Win a kayak and help Haiti

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Margaret Penicaud is raffling off her kayak prize to support fish farming in Hait. —Courtesy Margaret Penicaud

Updated 7/18:

An unlikely catch in the Derby last fall has turned into a fundraiser for Haiti. Margaret Penicaud won a motorized fishing kayak after reeling in a 40-inch, 23.8-pound bass. “I thought it would be a miracle to catch anything from a kayak. It towed me in circles,” she said recently. “It was the Vineyard sleigh ride.”

Instead of taking it out onto the high seas, Ms. Penicaud saved her prize kayak to raffle off. The proceeds of the raffle will go to the Daughters of Queen Mary Immaculate in Haiti, who will put the money toward supporting children’s education.

Ms. Penicaud also helped establish a fish farm in Haiti, whose profits support the school. She got the idea for it in 1998 on her first trip to the country. “I’d never experienced Third World poverty, so I was praying to God, ‘What can I do?’ and fish farming came to me out of the blue.” The fish farm now has five ponds, which help support a school that enrolled 427 students last year. There is also a sponsorship program that supports 60 of those students. 

There have been numerous setbacks since the farm’s establishment. Two years ago they had their solar panels stolen, which provided all of their power, and last year, Hurricane Matthew hit.

Ms. Penicaud had been having a good Derby before her big catch. She’d already gotten a Grand Slam, the distinction awarded when a contestant catches all four types of fish in the Derby, consisting of bluefish, bass, false albacore, and bonito. When she heard about the hurricane, however, she said, “I was thinking, ‘What can we do for Haiti?’’ Winning the kayak seemed like the perfect thing.

The raffle tickets are $25 per chance and can be purchased on the fish farm website, fishfarmhaiti.org, or by mailing the check to “Fish Farm Haiti” at P.O. Box 1803, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568. The drawing will be on July 29.

This article was updated to include the sponsorship program that sends 60 students to school.