Pick a pepper…and send all your children to school

Dieuseul Petit shows one of his chili peppers

Farmer Dieuseul Petit shows off one of his chili peppers.

A struggling Haitian farmer looks out over his field, withered by yet another year of drought. There will just barely be enough beans for the family to eat – and nothing left to sell. The father sighs, his heart heavy, because of the decision he has to make:  He can’t send all of his children to school this year. Who will go, and who will stay home?

This drama plays out worldwide, especially in Haiti. Wherever there aren’t free, government-run schools – children are out of school. In cash-strapped rural areas, families must pay fees for tuition, books, uniforms and school supplies. The average family is lucky to earn $50 per year.

Peppers pay for school

In Haiti’s central mountain region, one farmer is rejoicing. He doesn’t have to choose which of his kids goes to school this year. All of them are going. And it’s all because of peppers. In February, Dieuseul Petit received chili pepper seeds from Food for the Hungry (FH) to plant  on his small farm plot.

Because FH provided seeds for an improved variety, the plants grew quickly and produced a crop in only three months. And Dieuseul had no problem selling the peppers, which are highly prized for cooking spicy local dishes.

It’s possible some of his peppers ended up in kitchens, commercial super markets or restaurants in Port-au-Prince. Even though it’s an expensive to navigate the poor roads from the mountains down to the coast, people will pay high prices for peppers like Dieusel’s.

Four times the average income

For his work, Dieuseul earned $200 – four times the average income. And it was the very first time Dieuseul grew enough of anything to sell as a cash crop.

He’s still waiting to harvest his tomatoes, which he also grew from seeds that FH provided. The tomatoes should be ready soon, and Dieuseul estimates he can earn another $200 from selling those in the marketplace.

When farmers like Dieuseul make a profit, it opens up a whole new world.  They can use some of their profit to buy more seeds, fertilizers, tools and even start investing in raising animals, like chickens or goats.

The joy of educating children

“It’s just a blessing,” Dieuseul said about being able to keep his family fed – and finally send all of his children to school.

By working with FH, Dieuseul was able to change his circumstances, not just for a season, but for the seasons to come.

FH is dedicated to improving education for the children we work with by building schools, improving school water systems or training teachers. But what is also extremely important is removing barriers that prevent families from sending children to school.

When you sponsor a child with Food for the Hungry, you help communities like Dieuseul’s find sustainable, long-term solutions at the household level.

About Beth Allen

I'm a self-professed sustainable development geek who would have a very hard time picking a favorite country. That means, I love every tribe and nation and take great joy in seeing how God is working in the world. I've been with FH for nearly two decades, and started out by serving with them in the Bolivian Andes. I can't live without Jesus and coffee, but the coffee is mostly decaf so the power is from Jesus.

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