Year Joined MKLM: 1996
Town: Gros Morne
Ministries: Hen House Project, Jean-Marie Vincent Agricultural Center
Ministry Area: Sustainable Development
People Served: The residents of Gros Morne (40,000) and in particular, the 900 students of two local schools
Goals of Ministries:
The goal of the Hen House Project is to provide local eggs for the town of Gros Morne, eggs that are produced from local feed. The project not only ensures a more stable, economic and safe supply of eggs, but it also creates jobs, both directly – at the hen project – and indirectly – by providing a market for local farmers’ corn for the hens’ feed.
Social, Political, Economic Context:
Haiti currently imports about 1 million eggs per day from the Dominican Republic. Gros Morne’s women merchants had to travel five to six hours to get to the border to buy the eggs. The roads are in bad shape, and there is always the danger of thieves along the way or accidents that would destroy a whole cargo of eggs and thus all their capital. When there are political disruptions or gas shortages, the women can’t make it to the DR to buy the eggs, and when they finally do, the eggs are often bad already.
This project provides a safer and fresher source of eggs for the merchants and the community. The project partners with the local Jesus-Mary Parish School, which gives out eggs to its 500 students three times per week to supplement their regular meals. Another Catholic school, Kollej Jean XXIII, also buys eggs from the project to feed their 400 students.
The Hen House Project is part of the Karitas Gros Morne Agricultural Center, a parish-based organization that partners with an agricultural ministry of the Monfort Missionaries and the Religious of Jesus and Mary (RJM) Sisters. I have been applying my expertise in finance, management and administration to help the center expand into new areas of environmental stewardship and service to the community.
The 1,000 hens arrived in August 2019. We have had over a year experience with them and have been able to produce an average of 722 eggs per day during 2019 and 772 per day in 2020. In January, we began making our own feed, which is why the egg production has improved. We are about to add another 700 new hens.
I am on-site daily to help care for the hens and collect eggs. The hens need to be fed twice a day, and we collect eggs five times per day to avoid broken or eaten eggs. I collect daily production and sales data and input them into a computer to help us track sales and expenses as well as laying efficiency. I am also implementing a Quickbooks accounting system to better control finances and record sales, cost of goods sold, other expenses, and a balance sheet with assets and liabilities.
Through the project, we are able to produce fresh eggs for the local population sustainably. Egg sales should be sufficient to buy new hens as the older ones age out, and allow us to buy all the ingredients for the feed. Instead of buying expensive, premade chicken feed or use imported ingredients, we are producing our own feed from local corn and soy. At harvest time, we hope to be able to buy enough corn to last us through the coming year until the next harvest.
When I transferred to Haiti in October 2018, I became the first Maryknoll lay missioner in the Caribbean. I previously served with Maryknoll Lay Missioners in Venezuela (1996-2007) and Cambodia (2008-2018). In Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I was the finance manager first at the the Seedlings of Hope HIV/AIDS Program, and later at Boeung Tumpun Community Health and Education Project. I also did music ministry in my parish. In Pavia, Venezuela, I started a community food cooperative, worked with youth in a music ministry and did pastoral outreach in the rural areas.
I am originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, but came to Maryknoll Lay Missioners from Phoenix, Arizona. I have a bachelor of science in finance from Marquette University, and have worked in banking as an analyst and auditor. I served as a lector, communion minister, usher, hospitality minister and budget committee member at various parishes over the years. I have also volunteered at a reading service for the blind.