Challenging Injustice, Advancing Human Rights

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.

Stories of Hope 2014: Nancy Vilce and Marie Obethe Moise

This story of Nancy Vilce and Marie Obethe Moise, from the Association for the Promotion of Integral Family Healthcare, is presented as part of UUSC’s Guest at Your Table program.

A year after the earthquake in Haiti, UUSC highlighted the innovative art therapy program offered by the Association for the Promotion of Integral Family Healthcare (APROSIFA) in Port-au-Prince. We shared the story of Patrick Lafontant, a youth who had grown into a leader through his experience with the arts program. Today, under the leadership of Nancy Vilce and Marie Obethe Moise, APROSIFA continues cultivating health and community with renewed energy and direction!

Nancy and Marie have been with APROFISA throughout most of its more than 20-year history. Marie began working there APROSIFA on May 10, 1993, when the clinic first opened. “We love what we do,” she says. “We spend most of our time here. APROSIFA not only helps me but also helps my family and friends.” The clinic serves the neighborhood of Carrefour Feuilles and offers a range of services, from family planning to treatment for malnutrition.

A new APROSIFA initiative is the Art Oasis Café, a community restaurant that serves nutritious and affordable meals to economically disadvantaged city residents during the weekdays and also caters a brunch for the local community of nongovernmental organization workers on weekends. Proceeds from the restaurant support the art therapy and other programs of APROFISA. Marie is especially excited about the restaurant because, in her words, “(1) our employees can order great food without leaving the building, (2) the ambiance at the restaurant feels welcoming, and (3) we are the best restaurant in Carrefour Feuilles!”  

APROSIFA knows that having the ability to access safe food — even grow it yourself — nourishes the spirit as well as the body. As part of restaurant operations, Nancy and Marie have committed to buying produce from local families taking part in an urban garden project that UUSC has been piloting with the Bright Educators of Delmas, a youth-driven grassroots organization working to increase access to healthy food in Port-au-Prince. This collaboration will help families earn income from their extra produce. Under Nancy and Marie’s direction, APROSIFA is using land behind their clinic to grow organic food for the restaurant, too.

APROSIFA also collaborates with Chefs for Kids, a U.S.-based international coalition of chefs who donate their time to educate about malnutrition and hunger. These chefs visit the Art Oasis Café twice a month and bring with them media attention that builds awareness of this unique program in Port-au-Prince. They even help the Art Oasis Café chefs develop and share recipes. When asked about her favorite meal at the restaurant, Marie said, “Poisson gwo sel [traditional Haitian fish dish], shish-ka-bob, fries and fried plantains, pancakes, tortillas — I guess everything!”

People are coming together each day at the colorful tables of the Art Oasis Café — and the work of human rights is being carried forward as they share food. Please join us as you gather around your own table and symbolically include Nancy and Marie as your guests by sharing their story while you share your own stories.

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