- January 20, 2021
Christy Daugherty is all about action.
The Ocoee resident and University of North Florida senior is working with the United Nation/Merit 360 program to end world hunger, and she wants to build a hydroponic farm at a deaf school in Haiti.
She is majoring in political science with a concentration in international studies; her minor is American Sign Language.
Merit360 sponsors two-week conferences featuring youth-led forums and is a major call to action concerning the United Nations’ 17 sustainable-development goals.
“It’s a program where young change-makers come together and brainstorm with projects on how we can better the world,” Daugherty said. “We have people from all different countries, and it’s a really great experience to solidify some of those plans that I’ve been making.”
Daugherty’s first experience in Haiti was in May 2017, when she traveled with the UNF Deaf Education program to an area outside Port-au-Prince and Leveque to teach deaf children for two weeks.
“While I was over there, I loved interacting with the children, but it was really heartbreaking for me when I saw that they were still rebuilding from the earthquake in 2010 and none of the children I was teaching knew when they were getting their next meal,” she said.
“We were staying in an all-inclusive resort that was safe with food and stuff, and it really bothered me that I would get a buffet for a meal three times a day when the people I was there to help and volunteer for didn’t know when they next time they would get a meal or clean water. And that bothered me.”
She said she took snacks in her backpack to give to the residents.
The experience made an impact on her and gave her direction.
Daugherty got involved in the Merit360 program in April after hearing about a friend’s positive experience. By August, she was in the United Kingdom attending a two-week conference with young delegates from other countries and learning about marketing, developing and leadership for promoting change.
Her desire is to improve the lives of Haitians.
“I want to incorporate aquaponic systems into the schools of Haiti to help reduce hunger while also teaching the children some opportunities on how to potentially get future jobs and business skills,” she said. “Once up and running, I want to see the schools set up a store to sell excess products and teach them some business lessons.”
A basic aquaponic system is about $3,000, Daugherty said. To build one from scratch — a do-it-yourself system — would cost less.
“A very basic system in about 100 square feet can produce anywhere from 300 to 400 heads of lettuce and over 32 pounds of fish,” she said.
Her project currently is in the fundraising stage. She is in talks with a major aquaponic manufacturer in hopes it will sign on as a sponsor or partner to help get the system to Haiti.
To make a financial contribution toward the aquaponic system or to assist in another capacity, contact Daugherty at [email protected]