On October 4, 2016, Hurricane Matthew made landfall on Haiti, destroying homes, taking the lives of hundreds, and wiping out more than 85% of crops in southern Haiti. While NGOs have worked to address the immediate needs of those affected, including shelter, food, and health resources, resiliency remains a high-priority as the international community assists Haiti in moving from response to recovery.
On average, Haitian farmers survive on less than $50 per year, and depend on food crops to both eat and trade. In the months following the hurricane, Third Wave Volunteers and Studio Unite, headed by philanthropist Alison Thompson, identified a need to provide farmers with fast crop seeds to ensure they would have a food source through the year.
In late 2016, they began a project to buy high quality heirloom seeds and engaged over 2000 volunteers in Miami to help sort and pack individual family seed packets with 21 varieties of vegetables bound for Haiti. Thanks to the collaborative effort of Airlink and LIFT, Studio Unite loaded two pallets of seeds onto a scheduled AmeriJet plane from Miami to Port-au-Prince on April 19, while Spirit Airlines provided a flight for Alison to lead distribution of the seeds.
Together with Haitian NGO SowASeed and local agronomists, Studio Unite provided farming tools, seeds, and solar lights to 25,000 farmers in areas of Dame Marie, Jeremie, Beaumont, and Duchity that had not yet received long-term aid from USAID and other organizations.