Last month, the Religious of Jesus and Mary (RJM) community in Gros Morne, Haiti, experienced a whole new cacophony of clucks. After many years of planning and preparation, they finally welcomed 1,000 hens to their new poulaye (hen house).
But the new sounds have been music to the ears of the local community: “’The hens are here! The hens are here!’ That has been the cry of delight across Gros Morne,” said the Facebook page of Mercy Focus on Haiti, which has been a partner in the project.
The hen house and the shipping of the 1,000 chickens is one of the first large new projects Maryknoll lay missioner Sami Scott has been working on since her arrival from Cambodia last October.
The new hen house is designed to help provide the town of Gros Morne with a more stable, economic and safe supply of eggs. Until now, women have had to travel five hours to the Dominican Republic, cross over the border, buy eggs and then pay to get them shipped back. Now there will be a significant local egg production that will also provide more jobs for the area.
“I’m so glad to finally have them here and laying eggs,” Sami said. “I am learning more about chickens and their care than I ever thought I needed to know. It is so important to be able to produce local eggs. It provides security and income for the local women, a market for local corn producers, and fresh eggs for the people.”
Sami works at the Jean Marie Vincent Agricultural Center in Gros Morne, a joint project of the Monfortain Priests along with the RJM Sisters. She helped with the budgeting, forecasting, viability planning and grant funding for the project, which is a collaboration with Hens for Haiti and Mercy Focus on Haiti. She now helps manage the project.
An RJM Quest volunteer started Hens for Haiti in 2011 and built a first hen house in Gros Morne. “It failed after about a year for several reasons,” Sami said, but RJM “Sister Pat [Dillon] has been working to restart it for a while. She got a grant for a grain mill and mixer to make our own food, a well for water, and solar systems to run the equipment and pumps.”
The hens have taken to their new environment and have been busy laying eggs. Said Mercy Focus on Haiti, “It is the whole community who will benefit. The local farmers raising the corn [for the feed] have a new market for their crops, the women no longer have to make the long and often treacherous trip to the Dominican Republic to purchase eggs and the staff will start up the mill to make feed.”
Photos by Vivian Niestrom
More photos from the Gros Morne hen house:
The following photos are by Abby Belt: