The University of Miami’s Project Medishare and The CDC
In 2007, Kaiser launched one of his Grass-roots Campaigns in Haiti for The University of Miami’s Project Medishare and The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The campaign was designed to produce an indigenous food in Haiti called Akamil (pronounced Ah-kah-mil).
The CDC had originally considered several, more traditional interventions for Haiti (e.g., USI, FFI, Sprinkles, DEC Salt, etc.), but local partners inside the country were determined to produce an indigenous food rather than adopt the same old, international aid interventions that had already been tried and failed in Haiti.
Akamil is a mixture of corn and beans, rice and beans and/or wheat and beans that resembles instant oatmeal. Haitians like to mix Akamil with fruit and sugar for a sweet meal and/or mix it with vegetables and salt (and meat when available) for a more savory, substantial meal. Akamil has typically been served as a ready-to-eat meal on market days or at other large outdoor events, such as concerts and soccer matches.
Akamil has always been a popular, nutritious food for Haitians, but for most it was much too expensive to make at home due to the high cost of charcoal needed to cook the food a full 30-40 minutes to break down the enzymes in the beans. Instant Akamil, however, could be cooked in just 3 minutes rather than 30, requiring much less charcoal and helping the environment in the process.
CC’s grass-roots campaign to produce Akamil in Haiti involves local farmers in growing the necessary crops, local businesses in building the food processing plant, numerous donors contributing generators, plant equipment, medical instruments, a vitamin/mineral premix, even computer hardware and software allowing local health workers to undertake nutrition surveys to measure the impact this healthy food will have on the local community. All of this has been done locally with the help of Project Medishare and CC’s own coaching, which encourages self-determination and creates the all-important sustainability most international aid organizations only dream of.
More than $2,000,000 has been donated for this grass-roots campaign to date and none of that money has come from the international aid community or foreign governments. All the donations have been raised locally through personal appeals and through corporate gifts and donations from foundations, civic organizations and individuals who support this unique grass-roots approach to foreign aid and achieving self-sufficiency. It is hoped this local, market-driven approach to Food Security can become a model for other communities in Haiti so more Akamil plants can be built as not-for-profit Franchises that also can be managed For Haitians, By Haitians.