We speak to Charity Tea volunteer, Mano, who is on the ground in Haiti delivering food to the children who need it most. He shares his personal story from the frontlines in a country ravaged by natural disasters, political instability and gang violence, telling us what inspires him to be a source of support and hope to his community through important grassroots feeding programs.


Haiti’s poverty trap

Ever since he was a little boy, Mano has dreamed of helping others. Born and raised in Haiti, he has witnessed the devastation of hurricanes and earthquakes, and the spiralling effects they can have on communities already living on the edge of poverty.

Living hand to mouth, there are times when finding food for a day is the main goal, more important than going to school or getting the medicine that is needed. It is in this crisis mode that it becomes more difficult to get out of the vicious cycle of poverty.

Mano and his wife have four children and live in Les Cayes, a port city in the south of Haiti. His childhood dream of helping others is still very much alive today in everything he does.

“I work as a driver for an NGO,” he shares. “For many years, I have delivered medicine and food to bring help to the people.”


Delivering hope

Following the devastating consequences of Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Mano has also been delivering grassroots feeding programs in Haiti on behalf of Charity Tea.

A portion of each sale of organic tea from New Zealand’s most ethical tea company is used to purchase food for children in nearby villages.

The essential meals help to keep families together. They enable children to focus on their educations so they have opportunities to grow out of the poverty trap.

Mano is crucial to the whole grassroots operation and offers his support as a volunteer. He purchases the food, cooks it with his family in his own home and delivers it to the children who are in greatest need.

“Some people in my community think that I get paid for what I do with Charity Tea. But no, I do this to help, not for money.

He adds, “Together we can change the world.”


Volunteer Mano with children in Haiti

Mano is a Charity Tea volunteer in Haiti running grassroots feeding programs funded by sales of organic tea


What is the current situation in Haiti?

Mano’s Caribbean home has repeatedly hit the world headlines over the last decade and more, and all for the wrong reasons.

Haiti is described as one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to natural disasters.

Since 2010 the country has been ravaged by droughts, floods, cholera, two major earthquakes and a serious hurricane.

Latest estimates say that 90 percent of Haitians experience poverty and nearly half the population – almost 6 million people – are in need of humanitarian assistance.

While natural disasters have disrupted local food production, livelihoods and sources of income, the political instability and gang violence in the country has risen to dramatic levels.

In 2021 the Haitian president Jovenel Moise was assassinated. Ever since, Haiti has been without a president and functioning government. The national police force has been weakened and gangs have overrun the capital of Port-au-Prince. In March 2024, UN officials announced that gangs currently control about 80 percent of the capital.

“My mother and sister live in Port-au-Prince,” explains Mano. “For three years we have not seen them.

“The situation is very very bad in Port-au-Prince. It is misery. Many die there everyday under the bullets of gangs.”

Mano explains that although he is not able to visit his mother and sister, he is in contact with them every day.

“Every morning we call my mother. My daughter, she cries. She wants to help Grandma. But it is not safe for us to go.”


The importance of grassroots feeding programs

With gang violence and tensions escalating even further, a tremendous comfort came in mid March 2024 when the US and EU announced they were to allocate additional funds for humanitarian support in Haiti.

But despite these extremely welcome relief efforts, Mano explains why it is still crucially important for independent feeding programs – such as through the direct sales of Charity Tea – to continue so children can be given nourishing food directly.

“Many of these aid efforts help people in Port-au-Prince. But, where I am, many families don’t receive this help.”

After years of delivering humanitarian aid himself, Mano explains with an example. “If I come to New Zealand and bring help to the country, I may give it to your neighbour but don’t help you. I don’t know you need help, even though you are next door.”

He says the same often happens with aid allocations in Haiti.

As our volunteer on the ground, Mano is a crucial part of Charity Tea. He sees where food is needed in the local villages and distributes it directly to those children.


Charity Tea feeding program in Haiti

In many cases, foreign aid feeding programs fail to stretch to distributing food to Haiti’s smaller rural villages


Keeping families together

Charity Tea’s founder, Gill, shares, “Mano and his family are such a critical part of our feeding program. The time, energy and love they donate freely is allowing this next generation to be nourished enough to learn and grow within more safe and secure family units.

“In Haiti, it’s common for parents to give their children away to a big charity if they are unable to feed that child themselves,” she explains. “Speaking as a mother of three and a social worker, this has to stop.

“Our feeding programs are not just about filling hungry tummies. Ultimately, they are about keeping families together and communities working as one.”


"Together we can change the world" Mano in Haiti


Haitian children eating food

With full tummies, children can focus on their education and building a better future

Mano’s favourite tea

Finally, we asked Mano whether he likes drinking tea himself. It was a resounding yes!

“My favourite tea is ginger tea,” he shares.

If you’d like to support Mano and the local communities in Haiti, simply make Charity Tea your tea of choice.

Whether you prefer tea bags or loose leaf, choose from beautiful starter packs, handy refill packs and delightful gift boxes.

Never run out of your favourite tea with a monthly tea plan while also giving your regular support to children in need.

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Organic teas that really nourish

Charity Tea is New Zealand’s ethical tea company.

Our premium-grade organic teas are packed with health-boosting properties all ethically sourced from fair-wage growers, many of which are based in NZ. Each tea is wrapped in eco-friendly, toxic-free packaging and processed from our depot in Auckland by Kiwi workers who are normally disadvantaged.

When buying our organic tea, you are helping to feed children through grassroots feeding programs in Haiti and New Zealand. Naturally, you are using your spending power to nurture a world that puts people and the planet before profit.

Charity Tea is a Certified B Corporation, EKOS Climate Positive and Akina Certified.


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