Greetings from BEAUTIFUL Haiti!
I have had the privilege of living here for the past 3+ months. Residing in Haiti full time certainly has changed my perspective on Haitian development and aid. The perspective I had previously from short trips a week at a time is very different from the reality of living here. But one thing remains, Hope is alive and well in Haiti! This country is Beautiful, not just because of sunsets and sunrises blanketed with high mountains and palm trees or a calendar worthy deserted beach with gently lapping waves… but because the people make it so. Haitians are, by nature, giving, kind, congenial and hard working.
After the earthquake, amidst the chaos, the temporary fix was mass handouts. This was necessary and important for short-term survival, but that time has long since passed. Haitians want and need jobs. With unemployment as high as 80% in some parts of the country, Haitians are looking for training. They want to earn the right to provide for their families, to have a sense of dignity. The focus now for most organizations is long-term sustainability. How does this happen? Providing training and jobs. Haitians are eager to learn and excited to put to practice what they’ve learned.
I spent an afternoon with International Disaster Volunteers and their students at the English in Mind English school. They are a fun bunch if I’ve ever seen one. They are serious about learning English and they have a great time doing it. They incorporate songs, stories and a lot of laughing. This was a refreshing site visit for me because the students wanted to have a Q&A session with me. It was so much fun letting them pick my brain (as they proudly referred to it in English idiom) and allow me to ask questions. They ended the session by asking what advice I would give Haiti regarding “the changes that need to be made”. My reply was simple. We have an America, we have Germany, France, England, et al… We don’t need another one. But we do need a strong Haiti. Make the changes that need to be made regarding infrastructure of the country, but don’t let it change who you are as a culture.
REBUILDGlobally is another such organization making super cool flip-flops out of trash tires. They are providing jobs for locals in and around Port au Prince. Many of the men and women working there have been able to take their kids back from poverty orphan care, buy land and move their families from tent cities to a new home. More over, 2 of the employees have been promoted from shoemakers to manager of operations and manager of the local sales store. The men and women were provided training and are now teaching others what they’ve learned.
Hats off to the men and women of Haiti and the visiting NGO’s working hard to preserve a culture while advancing an economy!! Keep up the good work!
Sometimes it seems as though the natural disasters in Haiti will not stop. From the horrendous earthquake that struck more than 3 years ago to the massive flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy and most recently, regional droughts that have hindered planting and harvesting efforts. Yet there is hope. With your support, organizations such as the Lambi Fund and Partners in Health have been able to continue their work in capacity building.
Farming is difficult in Haiti as a result of the unpredictable weather leaving much of the land either flooded or barren. The Lambi Fund works with local organizations so that farmers are no longer at the mercy of the land. Resources such as irrigation canals and water pumps help the people cope with current weather situations while relief grants provide the people with seed and fertilizer. Not only does this help them get back on their feet, but they can also store food and grain for when future storms or droughts hit.
A member of the local organization AFDL explained that, “Before relief funding from Lambi Fund came, people weren’t sure when they could plant and harvest again. This was a major concern for everyone. The Lambi Fund of Haiti helped us till the land again…we have gardens again. The emergency relief was an opportunity for us. Hurricane Sandy came during planting season and we weren’t sure how we were going to repair the land. With Lambi Fund’s support, we re-tilled the land and planted again. Now we have corn, nuts, and black beans and harvesting has begun.”
Partners in Health is also helping to provide critically needed resources, one of the most important being electricity. Having recently finished the construction of a national teaching hospital, Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais (HUM), they’re now working on sustainable solutions to keep it up and running. Across the roof of the 200,000 square foot hospital are 1,800 solar panels meticulously arranged in order to produce more energy than HUM will consume. To put this into perspective, before the hospital was even open to the public, these solar panels produced 139 megawatt hours of electricity. This is enough energy to charge 22 MILLION smartphones, and offset 72 tons of coal and more than 140,000 pounds of carbon emissions. Using solar energy is expected to cut $379,000 from HUM’s projected annual operating costs. The environmental and financial benefits that these solar panels provide for Haiti are countless!
While you may only see heart wrenching stories about the people in Haiti on the news, there are so many more stories of hope and joy. This is why we provide you with these reports so that you can read about the inspiring things our partner organizations are doing on the ground. It is because of the support from donors like you that these organizations can continue their groundbreaking and catalyzing work.
One such story of hope comes from a Haitian doctor working with International Medical Corps. Raised in Port-au-Prince and the second child of four, Virginia was a witness to Haiti’s extreme poverty. The lack of health care and large inequalities struck a chord in her which solidified her decision to earn her medical degree. The earthquake hit when Virginia was still in her residency in the southern part of Haiti. She rushed back to Port-au-Prince to find her family who thankfully were unharmed. Yet being a doctor could not have prepared her for what she saw. Patients “without hands and legs; with broken eyes” and the crumbled streets “smelled dead.”
Life circled around survival. There was a constant flow of patients coming to her, begging and pleading for help. Her mind was “without energy.” She returned south to treat victims, yet everyone was always on high alert. Explains Virginia, “you just keep wondering when something will happen.” This psychological impact ran deep in the Haitian people’s minds. The survivors constantly wondered why they were alive when their family and country was in ruins. But Virginia refused to give up. “You have to fight – with everything you have. Otherwise, you will lose your mind.”
After finishing her residency, she applied for many jobs in Port-au-Prince, but found nothing. She expanded her search to areas outside the capitol and was flooded with responses from several NGOs including International Medical Corps. The match between IMC and Virginia was perfect. After one month, she became the supervisor of one IMC site, and then another, until finally her work took her back to Port-au-Prince. She constantly moved up in the organization where today, she is a capacity building manager. She says she sometimes does miss patient contact, but she knows that she is “helping lay the groundwork for more.”
Virginia describes her work: “If you work in a clinic, you may deliver a beautiful baby girl. But I get to fight for something else: to have more health facilities where women can give birth safely and hygienically, more trained OB/GYNs; places where a mother can take her child if it has disabilities.”
Today, Virginia believes that the earthquake literally shook Haiti to move forward, to rebuild in a more equal and sustainable way. “I think the earthquake brought something to us. We started to realize that the way we used to live was not correct, and that we have to integrate into the world. If every Haitian can think like this, I think that everything that happened to us will serve to progress us; to bring something different for the next generation. There is a lesson. We have to push to enter into life; to not be separate.”
Without your help, these inspiring stories from our partner organizations would be far and few. Every donation makes a difference and helps tell a story. From us at GlobalGiving to Haitian nationals like Virginia, we thank you for your support from the bottom of our hearts.
Our most sincere gratitude goes out to all of you GlobalGivers who have continued to help in our efforts to bring relief and rebuild Haiti. It has been more than 3 years since a massive earthquake devastated the world’s poorest country, yet with your generous contributions we have been able to support organizations that have been on the ground since the initial emergency response.
One of these organizations, Partners in Health (PIH) and its Haitian sister organization, Zanmi Lasante (Partners in Health in Creole) is the largest healthcare provider in Haiti. Not only are they dedicated to treating the here and now, but PIH and ZL are building sustainable solutions that will raise standards of healthcare for the poor in rural Haiti. They are introducing new treatments and diagnostics to Haitian doctors, nurses and specialists that will address common and complex illnesses.
These illnesses which have common prevention methods tend to run rampant in poverty stricken areas like Haiti. Cholera has had devastating effects ever since the epidemic began 10 months after the earthquake. According to special correspondent for PBS Newshour Fred de Sam Lazaro, “Fatalities have dropped from 10% of cases early on to about 1%.” While these short term efforts have proven successful, cholera is likely to remain for some time. Problems such as the cholera epidemic have shown how vital it is that rebuilding efforts remain strong and relentless both in the literal sense and physical sense. PIH and ZL raised $22 million to build a state of art teaching hospital with 300 beds. In 10 years’ time, they will turn it over to the government to have control of.
Like PIH, International Medical Corps has been on the ground since the beginning of the disaster and are focused on rebuilding Haiti’s infrastructure from the bottom up. By providing vigorous training programs and technical assistance to local health officials, they are slowly making it possible for Haiti to be self-reliant. As a result of the cholera outbreak, International Medical Corps added two additional mobile medical units to provide cholera screenings, hygiene promotion and other health care services. This is in addition to the network of health care clinics that have already been established that administer a range of programs such as disaster risk reduction, nutrition, early childhood development, mental health, etc.
Both organizations have done amazing jobs at not only providing relief to Haiti, but also by working side by side with its citizens so that they may learn from them and become self-sufficient. This is fundamental to the survival of Haiti. In order to stand on its own, it must have a strong infrastructure with educated citizens. So much has been accomplished in the past three years, and this has only been made possible by you. Three years and counting of unwavering support have resulted in quality healthcare delivered to poverty stricken people. You have helped to save the lives of Haitians of all ages. So thank you for your commitment and belief in rebuilding Haiti one day at a time, and one life at a time.
Thank you again for your generous donation to the GlobalGiving Relief Fund for Haiti Earthquake. As always, we’re committed to keeping you updated on how your donations have been used to help in the recovery effort for people in Haiti. In this report we will be highlighting two of the organizations that are working on the ground with your support.
Architecture for Humanity and their project is Earthquakes Don’t Kill; Buildings Do: REBUILD HAITI. Architecture for Humanity has responded to the crisis in Haiti with Earthquakes Don’t Kill; Buildings Do: REBUILD HAITI – a long term rebuilding plan that has designed, developed, and implemented community centers, schools and sustainable housing.
Recently, Architecture for Humanity begun its Education through the Arts program focused on civic arts. They believe that the rebuilding of Haiti is essential, but so is remembering its history. The cultural past and present of Haiti cannot be forgotten as the country builds for future generations. As a result, the REBUILD Haiti project has instituted the civic arts program. The civic arts program will engage schools to teach students about the impact civic art has on a community.
Volunteers for Interamerican Development Assistance (VIDA) has also been working on the ground to bring Medical Supplies for Hospitals in Haiti. Immediately following the devastating earthquake, VIDA took action to ensure that medical supplies were delivered to Haiti.
Recognizing the great need that has persisted the past two years, VIDA has not only sought to bring medical aid to Cayes Jacmel, but they have now expanded their reach. Gymboree made a generous donation of $100,000 in children’s clothing to the city. Also, VIDA has sent over $50,000 in respiratory supplies. For every $1 collected, VIDA is able to send $150 in aid.
Architecture for Humanity and VIDA are continuing to assist Haiti with their rebuilding efforts through the people of Haiti. Connecting with people on the ground is essential because each community is unique and must be looked at individually. Both of these organizations have accomplished grassroots-level work.
Thank you for your generous donation to the GlobalGiving Relief Fund for Haiti Earthquake, which supports the people of Haiti and the work of GlobalGiving partner organizations like Architecture for Humanity and VIDA.
For this month’s project report for the GlobalGiving Relief Fund for Haiti Earthquake, we would like to feature one of the organizations that the fund supports: Lambi Fund of Haiti. Established in 1994, the Lambi Fund has offices in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and in Washington, DC, USA, and supports “peasant-led community organizations” working in the fields of sustainable development, non-violence, and gender equality. Many of the Lambi Fund’s projects provide capital for community associations to plant seedlings, establish coffee, sugarcane, or livestock farms, invest in more efficient farming technology, and purchase or restore grain mills to produce high quality ground corn and millet.
One of the Lambi Fund of Haiti’s new projects will be supporting the Youth Association of Sel (AJS) as it builds a grain storage facility and starts a microcredit fund. These twin efforts are designed to respond to two needs within the community of Sel, Haiti. The first need is for affordable high-quality grain and seeds for farmers. The second need is for access to credit at a low interest rate so that local farmers can purchase the seeds and equipment necessary for self-sustaining farms. The Lambi Fund will provide training for the community members in project management and grain storage so that participants can manage their resources themselves. As farmers gain access to better farming supplies, their businesses will become stronger. Loan repayments will be reinvested in the community, providing wider access to credit for the residents of Sel. Ultimately, improved access to credit and resources should revitalize agriculture and generate employment in the area, so that the residents of Sel can kickstart their own businesses and build a stronger Haiti.
The Lambi Fund of Haiti has many projects, of which this partnership is only one. Thank you again for your generous donation to the GlobalGiving Relief Fund for Haiti Earthquake, which supports the people of Haiti and the work of GlobalGiving partner organizations such as The Lambi Fund of Haiti.
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