The sweet faces behind Winter Park Honey (Facebook | Website) have joined forces with a non-profit based in Haiti to teach beekeeping skills to those in need.

Haiti Help Med Plus (Website), directed by Ralph Gousse, recruited WPH founder Jean Vasicek to go to Haiti and host a number of workshops with rural Haitians willing to learn her craft – the aim being that they could sell the honey and wax on the local market and supplement their diets.

Vasicek switched things up a bit this year and decided to host one of her more promising students, Amaral Selma, in Winter Park for a number of months, where he could practice his English and help her with business.

We had the chance to sit with Amaral while he was here, and he made quite the impression.

He was in school the day of the big quake in 2010, on the third floor of a building in the capital. When the lights started to flash, everyone around him thought it was a power brownout and didn’t take it seriously. Amaral went with his gut and jumped under a table nearby and immediately after, the building collapsed.

When he crawled out from under the table, the two stories under him had completely disappeared and he was inexplicably on ground level.

The 25 people in his class along with everyone else in the building had died.

Selma walked 60 + miles to his hometown of Pettit-Goave, 42 miles from Port-au-Prince. It took him 18 hours. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of other people walking along with him, children, mothers with infants, the elderly, and he tried to help a number of them along the way.

Selma became involved with Gousse’s organization, after the quake, and really latched on to the idea of learning how to keep bees himself as a way to supplement his income.

While working with Vasicek, Selma created a DIY blueprint to make hives using shipping crates, an abundant resource back in Haiti. Selma’s time in Winter Park comes to a close this month, and he will return to Haiti to finish his studies in telecommunications and to launch his own honey business.

Brendan O'Connor

Editor in Chief of

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