MFK’s Holistic Development Approach is Featured on KSDK

On February 18, 2010 KSDK’s Casey Nolen highlighted MFK’s holistic development efforts. Nolen spent about two weeks in the aftermath of the quake chronicling events in northern Haiti.

To read the full story at KSDK click here.

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St. Louisans Working to Feed and Teach in Haiti

By Casey Nolen

KSDK — Even before an influx of earthquake victims were airlifted in for medical treatment at Hospital Sacre Coeur, many in rural Milot, Haiti were already living crisis. With no industry to speak of most grow or raise what they eat and most don’t have enough.

Doctors at Sacre Coeur estimate that children in Milot have about a one in four chance of dying before the age of two from hunger. And the story is much the same across all of Haiti. Before the earthquake, an estimated 250,000 children were living with malnutrition — a number now expected to rise.

But about an hour’s drive from Milot, in the city of Cap Haitian, an organization founded by a St. Louisan is working to reverse the rate of hunger and help those it can harm the most.

“Children under two who are malnourished are forever brain damaged and they have to be rescued as soon as possible and somebody’s got to do it,” says Washington University pediatrician Dr. Patricia Wolff, who leads an effort called Meds & Food For Kids.

In a house turned factory, MFK churns out highly enriched peanut butter known as Medika Mamba at a rate of more than 13 tons a month. With a long shelf life and no need for cooking, it can save a starving child’s life in a matter of weeks.

“We’ve been making it really fast to give to people like Milot who could use it for the post-op patients even if they don’t have any malnourished children,” says Dr. Wolff.

But this effort began long before the earthquake. Dr. Wolff has worked in Haiti for more than six years, with a long term commitment to long lasting change.

“The future is not in rescue,” she says. “The future is in development.”

Most of the ingredients for Medika Mamba come from Haiti which allows Dr. Wolff’s operation to hire and educate local workers and train local farmers.

“Before they started working for us six years ago they hadn’t seen running water or electricity,” says Dr. Wolff.

“Nobody’s invested in agriculture in this country since the end of the colonial period,” says Jamie Rhoads, who works with MKF training farmers. “So their production methods are stone aged. They’ve got a machete and a hoe and bad seed and they do the best they can.”

Meeting the immediate needs for food, and investing in a people that Wolff’s says would rather learn than be rescued repeatedly.

“Oh yeah, for sure, we’re making a lot of difference. But we’re not anywhere near the end. We really have to pour a lot more effort in to it,” says Wolff. “And we invite everyone everywhere to come and help us do it because it’s a big, big, big job.”