Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tarpon Springs couple tries to ease suffering in Haiti's Village 81

TARPON SPRINGS — Jared Brown served five years in the Air Force and his wife, Annie, is a former emergency room nurse.

The Tarpon Springs couple has seen suffering, but nothing like they've seen at a small village in Haiti called "81."

Named for its distance, 81 miles from Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, Village 81 is a community of poor families who typically get one meal a day: rice.

To ease aching bellies, children pack dirt into patties and eat them like cookies. The dirt contains intestinal parasites that enter the digestive tract and devour 35 percent of the child's nutritional intake, leading to brittle bones and eventually starvation. And all this happens 700 miles from South Beach.

"My wife, Annie, and I have traveled extensively, but never saw poverty like that in Haiti," said Jared Brown, 31. "We founded Project 81 to help people change their own lives."

The Browns and Annie's brother, Clay Nylund, 25, founded Project 81 in 2007 using as its guiding principle Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, a psychological theory that says the basic requirements of food and shelter must be met before people can reach a higher potential.

Meeting those basic needs is a major task in Haiti, a country with the third-highest rate of hunger in the world

Since 2007, Project 81 has tested water in a newly drilled well and purchased rice, bread and peanut butter with one $1,000 donation and the founders' own money.

It has also provided medicine to kill intestinal parasites. At a cost of $20 for 1,000 pills, Project 81 has delivered 150,000 pills to schools and clinics in seven areas throughout northwest Haiti. The founders personally dispense 1,000 every six months, along with peanut butter and bread to mothers with babies, and rice to adults.

Project 81 and Destiny Village, an orphanage 3 miles from Village 81, are fundraising to reach the projected $80,000 needed to build a tuition-free school. Land has already been donated. Once completed, the school will feed and educate 250 children.

"Haitian schools cost about $80 a month per child. An average family with three children makes $1.50 a day," Jared Brown said. "Naked, hungry children peer through those school windows wishing they could get in."

The Browns had their own child three months ago and plan to someday involve her in Project 81 and helping others.

"We want our daughter to be a part of what we're doing and to grow up proud of her parents," said Annie Brown, 30. "We didn't want to be people who said they wanted to change things, then stayed home and did nothing. Still, we know everyone cannot travel to Haiti."

For that reason, Project 81 isn't simply about helping Haitians. It is about helping those in need.

The Project 81 founders will partner with any charitable group. They currently are working with the APEX youth group of LifePoint Church, Wesley Chapel, to give food baskets to the homeless in the Tampa area.

Although 18- to 30-year-olds mostly volunteer for Project 81, having the founders speak to churches and community groups, like Rotary Clubs in Tampa, has garnered new supporters.

This October, two new volunteer groups will travel to Haiti, one from Tampa, and a group of doctors and nurses, plus a builder, from Missouri.

"We're passionate … but to accomplish goals at the level we want to, we'll need partnerships, others who believe and want to fund Project 81," Jared Brown said. "Our slogan is 'You are the Project.' We want it to change you as much as it changes the people of Haiti."

Fast facts

If you want to help

Visit to donate money for food, medicine or to help build the school. Inquire about partnering with Project 81 on any charitable program or to volunteer your time.

Tarpon Springs couple tries to ease suffering in Haiti's Village 81 07/08/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 8, 2009 8:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pasco considers new tax districts for parks, libraries, public safety

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Faced with growing costs amid an expected voter-endorsed tax cut, Pasco County is considering changing the way it pays for parks, libraries and public safety.

Pasco County is considering a new taxing district to finance an expansion and ongoing operations of the county's Department of Parks,Recreaton and Natural Resources. Shown is the Dick's Tournament of Champions at the the  Wesley Chapel District Park, the last district park developed by the county. It opened in 2007.
  2. Ruskin man sought in fatal stabbing of roommate


    RUSKIN — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has issued an arrest warrant for the suspect who fatally stabbed his roommate in a Ruskin home on Monday afternoon.

  3. Romano: Why flood insurance might not be enough to save your home

    Local Government

    Irma is gone, and Maria never came.

    And yet this is as good a time as any to worry.

  4. Tampa's streetcar system looks to expand north through downtown


    TAMPA — The TECO Line Streetcar system that runs from Ybor City to the Channel District could be extended north through downtown all the way to Tampa Heights, according to the latest update of a $1.7 million study aimed at expanding the streetcar system.

    Riders take in the last few stops of the streetcar route in Ybor City during the tenth anniversary celebration of the TECO line streetcar system in Tampa in 2012. Now officials are looking for ways to expand the service north through downtown to Tampa Heights. [EVE EDELHEIT  |  Times]
  5. Interview: Steve Martin, Martin Short bringing 'best version' of their show back to St. Petersburg


    Hot celebrity-spotting tip: Stop by the Salvador Dalí Museum on Jan. 19. You might catch a glimpse of Steve Martin.

    Steve Martin, left, and Martin Short will bring “An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life” to the Mahaffey Theater on Jan. 19.