Nova Scotian business comes through for Haitian school in need of a stove

A Nova Scotia woman who raises $1,800 monthly to feed children and staff at a school in Haiti was "ecstatic" last week to learn the facility's need for a stove had been met by an Amherst business.

'Having the stove now, for all of us, it is making a huge difference,' says Haitian school administrator

Cooks at the Repairer of the Breaches School in Cazale, Haiti, had to cope with preparing food using messy, smoky wood fires. Now they have a new propane stove, thanks to an Amherst, N.S., business. (Submitted by Joanne Cottrill)

A Nova Scotia woman who raises $1,800 monthly to feed children and staff at a school in Haiti was "ecstatic" last week to learn the facility's need for a stove had been met by an Amherst business.

Last week, Joanne Cottrill of Pugwash told CBC's Maritime Noon that cooks at Repairer of the Breaches school, located in a village about 70 kilometres north of the capital, Port-au-Prince, struggled to provide meals for 180 students and 20 staff over wood fires.

The fires are a time-consuming, and unhealthy, task for the cooks and they needed a stove, she said.

"They have to come very early in the morning to get their fires going good enough that they can get a huge pot of water boiling and it's very smoky at times."

She estimated the cost of the stove and propane tanks would be approximately $900. 

Repairer of Breaches school in Haiti has a new three-burner stove to use to prepare meals for its 180 students and 20 staff. (Facebook)

Following the interview, Cottrill got a call from Hunter Interiors, an interior decorating business in Amherst, who said they wanted to buy a stove for the school.

"I was ecstatic," she said.

The stove was delivered to the school on Thursday, she told Maritime Noon, and she thanks God, along with Jane and John Roblee of Hunter Interiors, for the "amazing" gift.

School administrator Derismont Mesius Roobens calls the new stove "a huge blessing."

"I was overjoyed. The cooks are so happy. It makes a huge difference, because in the past … we have to buy the wood from people in the village and that is what the cooks were using to cook," he said from the village of Cazale, Haiti, on Friday.

"The kitchen is so close to the school so while they are cooking there is a lot of smoke. Smoke everywhere — at the office, the class — so having the stove now, for all of us, it is making a huge difference. It's a huge blessing."

Joanne Cottrill, centre, is shown with the two cooks from the lunch program at Repairer of the Breaches School in Cazale, Haiti. (Submitted by Joanne Cottrill)

Hunger is pervasive in Haiti, which still suffers from the effects of a devastating hurricane that hit the poverty-stricken island in 2010.

"Where we are, the parents aren't even to feed them at home. So to have Joanne who is helping, collecting money, and to have a meal for them every day — it's big," Roobens said.

"It is a huge relief to the parents, who know their children will have a meal during the day."

Cottrill, a cook at Pugwash District High School, collects bottles to redeem at the local recycling facility for cash as well as other fundraising activities with the help of neighbours and community members.