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Born in Port-au-Prince, almost six decades ago, I, Nancy Laroche, am the second children of a family of 4. From my father, Clermont Laroche, a devoted pediatrician, I learned strong ethics values as a professional and as a citizen, from my mother, Josette Décastro, a well cultured former primary school teacher turned accountant, I got a sense of beauty and attention to details and from both my parents, a passion for excellence.
Very early on during my childhood, I had to learn about responsibility as my mother became paralyzed and could no longer carry her full motherly duties without assistance.
Through my childhood and adolescence, my sense of responsibility further awakened and extended into social issues from Scouting activities and other charity and leadership associations.
I was also involved in adult literacy programs and was a volunteer kids tutor.
As a Catholic school student, I and all the pupils were ‘strongly encouraged’ to contribute in raising funds towards the various community projects the school was involved in through the daily sparing of our allowance money, through raffle selling, through active participation in cultural fundraising events (acting, dancing, or other talents, etc.).
As a result, I learned to feel empathy towards those in needs.
As a teenager, I already knew I wanted to work in Design, but because of the strict family principles, I opted for the least liberal option in the field: Architecture.
After my classical studies, in January 1982, I traveled to New York to pursue my studies in Architecture.
In the early 1990’s, I came back to Haiti after more than a decade abroad, to pursue a career as an Architect and to raise my 2 children.
Since then, I have developed a solid experience and reputation in the field, developing and building residential (mostly) and commercial projects and have raised my kids. With my husband, I enjoy discovering beautiful new places at home and abroad. Alone I enjoy reading while developing my painting skills, which I intend to use as my main retirement occupation.
Today, I am ready for more.
As I am witnessing the deterioration in the quality of life and education in Haiti, the loss of values, and my people’s despair, it’s time to put my life-long sense of responsibility to serve my people. As a privileged woman and a concern citizen, I want to get involved, to help and inspire Haitian kids, by contributing in giving them a strong sense of ethics, teaching them the value of responsibility, respect and honesty.
I want to contribute socially in a more active manner and give back.
Emily is a veteran educator and has taught multiple subjects in various K-12 settings around the US (Georgia, Indiana, New Mexico, California, and Washington) and internationally (Jamaica, Japan, and Canada). She is currently finishing her doctorate at Northeastern University with a research focus on post-crisis educational journeys in a global context; Japan, Haiti, Saint Martin, Syria, France, Taiwan and the USA. In the summer of 2019, Emily collaborated with the teaching staff of TeacHaiti to conduct a workshop on teaching and learning learning strategies. Inspired by the TeacHaiti teachers and leadership, she set out to continue involvement in education-related projects and initiatives in Haiti which led her to Helping Hands Noramise and deep interest in their school garden related projects for food security and sustainability. Emily is currently living inTaipei where she is collaborating with garden educators to build international youth leadership opportunities connected to HHN’s school garden projects in Haiti and elsewhere.
Despite the numerous challenges and setbacks brought on by COVID 19 and political unrest, we’re happy to say that both our school gardens at(with) TeacHaiti in Port-au-Prince and St Michel de L’Atalaye are “growing”.
The garden committee in P-a-P, (comprised of InterAct members) spent most of the months working to expand the garden and improve soil quality while the school was closed.
The students alongside Agronomist Norderne Charles, worked tirelessly to beautify the garden as well. The garden provide not only worthwhile work, but also a place of solace among the chaos of 2020. The addition of chicken and rabbits to the garden gave much needed manure for the new compost bins built by the committee. Students are served eggs twice a week and the additional eggs are sold to help defray the cost of feed for the chickens. The committee also tried it’s hands at producing homemade feed as well.
We had an opportunity to hold a garden usage training session with some of the teachers. It was gratifying to see the “light bulb” go off for some as they realized the learning possibilities which the garden classroom provides.
Meanwhile in St Michel, we were able to refence the entire garden area as well as create a closed-in forage garden for the goats. With the help of parents and some of the older students, Agronomist Gedelmy, garden keepers Wiendiuela and Arnaud planted plantain, papaya corn donated by Agronomist Gedelmy himself. They also planted okra, beans, beets and various other vegetables seeds, donated by the Orcas Island Jr Garden club.
Several students from P-a-P were fortunate to travel to St Michel to meet their counter parts and share what they had been doing at their location. They also spent a day working in the St Michel garden.
The 5th grade students from Orcas sent letters to the 5th grade students in P-a-P sharing their garden activities and personal interest. This exchange has come to a standstill for now due to the fact that students on Orcas are mostly attending classes from home. We hope to continue this collaboration in due time.
Progress was also made on the construction of the new classroom building in St Michel and our new garden classroom is now ready to be furnished and can be put to use before then end of the school year. The classroom will have a full kitchen, where the students will have an opportunity to use some of the produce they grow to learn some cooking skills and good nutrition.
A grant from the San Juan Island Rotary club will provide some funding for a water catchment system and tools for the St Michel school. The grant has also afforded us the opportunity to send two H.S graduates from St Michel to a Veterinary training school in Deschapelles. Upon completion of this program, these students will have the responsibility of caring for the school goats and provide Veterinary service to the community at large.
There’s a Haitian proverb” Piti pit zwazo fe nich” “Little by little bird builds it’s nest”. With these initiatives in place both in St Michel and P-a-P our students are building a better future for themselves and their communities.
Helping Hands Noramise wishes to thank all those who donated and continue to supporters of this work, without whose help this progress would not be possible.
We would also like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Naturopaths Without Borders, who had provided the fiduciary status so we may accept tax-deductible donations. Helping Hands Noramise is happy to announce we are now a stand alone registered 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. All donation to us are tax deductible.
FOOD, EDUCATION AND SUSTAINABILITY FOR TEENS
Helping Hands Noramise has been on the ground in Haiti since 2010. We’ve worked on nutrition education, public health and sanitation initiatives and school gardens.
As a grassroots organization it has been challenging for us to provide resources for these projects, despite the great need for them.
In the interest of making the best use of our resources and making greater impact, we’ve partnered with TeahHaiti to focus on Nutrition education and school gardens in two areas. On2e school is in the capital city Port-au-Prince, the other in the rural town of St Michel de L’atalaye.
We have also partnered with the Orcas Island Farm to Classroom program, on Orcas Island, WA
These two collaborations will provide a pathway for a cultural exchange between Haitian and American students.
The students will not only share garden practices, but also hold regular video calls to discuss the various challenges they face and work together towards their solutions.