Johnny Paen; More About the World Food Program

Johnny’s Story

Johnny Paen, from Jacmel, Haiti, is working to clear rubble, which will be transported to help build roads.  Johnny lost his wife, his two children, and his sister in the earthquake.  The World Food Program’s Food for Work project is working with Johnny to help him obtain food, buy clothing, and allow him to save some money to care for his aging, ailing mother.

I want to help Johnny.  I can’t imagine the tragedy that struck him, but I know that if we traded places, I would be unspeakably grateful for the empathy and the assistance of strangers.  And if we can gather enough cash, we can help a few more people like Johnny rebuild their lives.  Your donation will give Johnny the opportunity to help rebuild his town of Jacmel, as well as help him rebuild his life after his loss.

For more about the program, click “Read More”

The World Food Program

The World Food Program (WFP) is the UN’s primary agency in the fight against global hunger, and is the largest food aid organization in the world.  Technically, the organization I’m working with is the Friends of the WFP, which raises awareness and contributions for the WFP, which is important because the WFP itself is supported entirely by voluntary contributions from corporations, governments, and people like us.  It is estimated that 1 billion people go hungry every day, with 25,000 dying from starvation.  Every single day.  That’s more than 8 September 11’s, and what may be worse is the fact that hunger, unlike terrorism, is a solvable problem: there is enough food for everyone on the planet.  We just need to make sure they get it.

In Haiti, the WFP is now expanding its cash and food for work programs, paying people $5 for a 6 hour day of labor.  This is a fantastic program, because the labor helps to rebuild the country, and workers get to bring food back to their families, as well as cash for essentials like clothing, shelter, and for sending their kids to school.  Workers receive their wages as 40% food and 60% cash.

The work is critical to Haiti’s medium- and long-term recovery.  In rural areas, teams of workers are building stone walls and irrigation ditches to mitigate the erosion and landslide dangers of flooding, as we are already three weeks into the rainy season.  Erosion of topsoil threatens sustainable agriculture in a country that already struggled to feed itself before the earthquake even happened.

If we can gather $26,000 for this program, we’ll be able to support 104 workers for 24 days (a full month of work), which is equivalent to feeding 104 families of 5 for a month, as well as providing them some much-needed cash for other necessities.  In addition, we will be empowering Haitians to help rebuild their own country.  I hate to use clichés, but I would call this a win-win situation.  The WFP hopes to employ about 70,000 workers by the end of 2010, and $26,000 will go a long way in helping achieve that goal.

Here’s another fun way to look at it.  ReliefWeb, which is the UN coordinating body for relief efforts worldwide, lists contributions from government, non-profit, and corporate entities to relief efforts.  If we can raise $26,000, then we will have exceeded Dunkin’ Donuts ($25,000), US Airways ($5,000), Kraft Foods ($25,000), Ronald McDonald ($25,000), and even Mr. and Ms. Obama ($15,000).  And we’ve already done better than the Red Cross of Zambia, which mustered $220.


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