In 2010 Time Magazine chose a resident of Haiti as one of the most “100 Influential People in the World”. It might seem an unusual choice for a native of the Ivory Coast but the next year, the same man was recognized as Digicel Entrepreneur of the year. Valentin Abe was a Fulbright Scholar and earned a PhD in Aquaculture from Auburn University in Alabama. He moved to Haiti after two years working at Auburn.
Haiti might seem an unusual choice as a destination. It is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. In 2005 this acclaimed agronomist began Caribbean Harvest. Caribbean Harvest was created so that a domestic fishing industry for Haiti could be developed. In its hatcheries and fish farms jobs were created for unemployed fishermen and the fish raised provide food for Haiti as well as exports which creates a self-sustaining industry.
“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”
Mahatma Gandhi’s words reflect the great need that existed in Haiti, a need that Dr. Valentin Abe sought to alleviate. Additionally, Caribbean Harvest also seeks to improve educational opportunities for all Haitians as well as improve health and living conditions.
As a special envoy from the United Nations, former U.S. President Bill Clinton went to Haiti and met Dr. Abe. “He powers his entire operation with solar energy, and he involves fish farmers, whose incomes he’s multiplied two or three times or more. I met one man with eight children who said that because of his partnership with Valentin, he had been able to send his children to school for the first time. There are people like this all over the world. They don’t get noticed very much, but they have a profound influence on the people whose lives they touch.”
Letting our actions manifest our beliefs does not always garner attention nor should it. It takes hard work and sometimes sacrificing relaxation time in order to help another. For under twenty-five hundred dollars, Caribbean Harvest can help a Haitian family begin their own aquaculture business which will provide them with food and other opportunities, basic essential needs for living.
In your own community there is something you can do. Someone is hungry for that which you can offer. Never think you are not needed. You are. Never think your life does not count or that you cannot make a difference. You do count and you can be the change someone needs. We all go through life seeking to be needed and to fill the hunger within to be connected.
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin once stated: “If we can conquer space, we can conquer childhood hunger.” I think we can conquer all hunger, if we work together as the individuals we are and just try. Life is not about getting the most toys. It is about bring to others the most joy, fulfilling the hunger in others which completes the need within ourselves.