Thursday, March 10, 2011

"...One of the Richest Experiences a Volunteer Can Have"

When Robert Spencer reflects on his recent Farmer to Farmer trip to Haiti, he says it just may be his best yet. Spencer, a volunteer from Alabama who has just returned from his trip focusing on meat quality and safety, always appreciates the genuine interest and thirst for knowledge shown by those who attend his presentations in Haiti, not to mention the delicious food and coffee!

To learn more about his trip, visit this article published by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Also, below are some excerpts and photos from his trip report.

"The focus of this trip was to present advanced training of food safety and meat quality. Additional concepts addressed included: zoonotic and biologic issues, process improvement for rabbit processing, and consumer options for purchasing meats. Programmatic efforts to serve north and south regions of Haiti. All the aforementioned issues are a serious issue for producers and consumers in Haiti, while the problems do exist in a small-scale; the biggest problem is misconceptions by consumers, lack of knowledge on causes, management, and options. Using a fundamental outreach approach is essential to helping the people understand causal relationships, prevention, and options. Otherwise they assume bad food is just a part of living in Haiti. The heartwarming aspect about these seminars is the interaction, the comments, questions, and discussions that are generated; which helps a presenter to realize the people grasp and accept these ideas."
All get a laugh when Robert proves the food was safely prepared!
"Things are not as bleak as some might consider, there are plenty of food options, choosing bad meats is not an option once consumers know what causes problems with meats, how to manage against it, and they do have powers such as spending (or not) power, and power of their voice. The people of Haiti have lots of valid questions, some misconceptions, and a sincere desire to see things improve. This was probably my most successful visit with many rewarding seminars. The additional week and opportunity to participate in additional workshops really seemed to work efficiently. The faces seen at these seminars were new, they were very receptive to the idea of food safety and meat quality, now have an understanding how the whole concept works (from farm to table), and see potential for these programs in Haiti. If each of the seminar attendees will take this concept to home, family, and friends, the concept and practice of food safety and meat quality will spread. At each seminar the consensus was this whole concept has great potential. Knowing this I feel like my efforts were a success, my mission was accomplished!"

"[I] Am always humbled to serve the people of Haiti and sincerely want to see them and their children experience long-term success with food safety, meat quality, industrial development, and a booming tourism."

"To laugh with the Haitians is one of the richest experiences a volunteer can have."

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