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One year after quake, St. Louis organization eyes big goal for Haiti

Dr. Pat Wolff at a clinic.
Provided by Washington University
Dr. Patricia Wolff, Executive Director of Meds & Food for Kids with patients in Haiti last year

Dr. Patricia Wolff, founder and Executive Director of Meds & Foods for Kids (MFK) was one of our guests today on St. Louis on the Air.  MFK has been in Cap-Haïtien combating malnutrition with Medika Mamba (aka Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food)  since 2003.  Last year’s earthquake exacerbated an already extreme situation there, crippling existing infrastructure and multiplying demand for limited resources.

Dr. Wolff says the disaster has intensified her commitment to the troubled region, noting that the solutions to Haiti’s problems are in the hands of individuals willing to work hard for Haiti’s future:

"Waiting for the government is like waiting for Godot, you know? I don’t think that’s the answer. I think the answer is small people doing their thing and building Haiti from the bottom up.  Because it’s not going to happen from the top down any time soon."

Building from the bottom up is just what MFK hopes to do over the next five years, with the construction of an expanded, locally staffed and supplied Medika Mamba factory.  MFK currently manufactures 10,000 kilograms of the life-saving food every month, but needs to produce closer to 80,000 kilograms a month to meet demand. 

MFK says they’ll need to raise $3 million to build the new factory, a project that represents even more than a treatment for malnutrition.  Dr. Wolff hopes the new factory will be a place where unemployed Haitians can come for training and work, and where local peanut farmers can learn to improve their product.  Wolff imagines it as a self-sustaining place, “a world class center of excellence for food making in the developing world. ” 

Dr. Wolff admits there will be many obstacles in the months ahead, but she’s hopeful. “It can be done if you just stay there and be persistent.  You can’t let a few riots and airport closings disturb your equanimity. ”

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