How We Made the Grass “Grow” in Haiti

Aug 4, 2023 | News + Updates

We can’t grow grass in Haiti. Heavy tropical rainfall quickly erodes planting, while frequent drought and a lack of irrigation makes it nearly impossible to maintain. So our choices are either a mud field or concrete. That’s how we lived for more than 13 years at the old property. When you’d ask the kids what they want for the new property, they would say grass.

Thanks to a miracle mission to install artificial grass led by SYNLawn Michigan, we’ve given the children a soccer field and yard to run and play on. And for Nadie and Bradley to take their tentative first steps on, to wobble-walk, and now to run with the same delight you remember as a child who knows the feel of summer grass beneath your bare feet.  

What do we mean by miracle mission? It started with a phone call to SYNLawn Michigan and a request for help, and it required more than a year of planning and coordination — with thanks to their partners SYNLawn, T°Cool, BestPLUS Plastic Lumber, New England Turf Store and Nordot

Eight workers from SYNLawn Michigan — thank you Justin Booth, Philip Devane, Juan Guzman, Antonio Montalvo, Jorge Rosales, John Conry, Matt Boudreau and their intrepid project leader Julia Firavich — arrived in Port-au-Prince earlier this year with pallets of materials supplied at cost with labor donated by the company. And they made it all happen in a Herculean effort that took just 5 days, with help from the kids who couldn’t wait for the installation to dry before rolling and somersaulting all over it. 

“It’s hard to put into words…it still feels like a fever dream… Everyone [at Have Faith Haiti] was so welcoming, and so nice. Our team felt so appreciated for the work we did.”

Julia Firavich

This is only the beginning of a special partnership. 

One of our college students was able to intern with SYNLawn Michigan for a few weeks this summer to learn more about the trade, and there’s more vocational opportunities to come. A much-needed but difficult to find case of a nutritional drink (Medika Mamba) also arrived with the crew SYNLawn courtesy of the United Soybean Board — just in time to help Bradley reach his goal weight after years of malnutrition. (The organic backing used in turf installation is made of soybeans.)

With left over materials, we hope to add turf to more areas that need it, as we did with a small area near the nursey so the little ones can enjoy the grass closer. And we’d like to make a basketball court safer by adding special turf tiling on top of the concrete — if you’d like to contribute to our mission to help the “grass” keep growing at Have Faith Haiti and support these efforts, see below. 

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About Have Faith Haiti

Have Faith Haiti is a nonprofit organization providing safety, nourishment, education, and opportunity for Haiti’s impoverished children and orphans, and stability for staff and their families in Port-au-Prince. You can learn more here.