By Tina Voltang
THOMONDE, Haiti—This morning, I felt a poke at my shoulder, and it was Mo telling me to hurry up so that we can squeeze in a walk around town before breakfast. We were going to tour the grounds of the Akamil facility.
As an undergraduate student at the University of Miami, my peers and I had spent close to two years partnering with the Rotary clubs of South Florida to raise funds for the equipment to produce Akamil. Prior to this walk, my visions of the facility were comprised merely of pictures of a grassy plot of land—barren—with two of the members of our campaign holding up a home-made Rotaract of UM banner. I could hardly believe my eyes as we approached the facilities. There were two huge buildings on the land. One would be the huge factory that would be the production factory for Akamil, and the other would be a new guest house for future visitors. Walking into the Akamil plant this early in the morning, I could almost hear the echo of my footsteps, yet buzzing through my head were visions of an organized pandemonium. I was imagining the day that we’d see the people of Thomonde manufacturing tons of Akamil a day, women packaging and selling Akamil in the market, farmers turning over cash crops, and maybe even malnutrition becoming a rarity in Thomonde.
Behind the facilities contained about a hundred planters filled with crops such as tomatoes, onions, and beats as well as an agricultural staff that was dedicated to figuring a way to educate the population about how to best use the soil and distribute seeds. One of their goals was to help the people of Thomonde to integrate subsistence farming into their lives to improve their nutrition. I felt a great sense of promise and excitement as I stood in the vastness of the Akamil facility, and at the same time a huge urgency for it to be filled with the people of Thomonde and their amazing dedication and desire to better their future and surroundings.