A Vision for Haiti
The earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010 changed my life. I used to be a Program Manager for a 21st Century Grant Funded after school enrichment program, a freelance writer, and a translator/producer/outreach manager for Strange Things, a documentary film about Cap Haitien’s street children and now I am community-based facilitator for several communities and vulnerable populations in Haiti including women and children. I entered the country on January 14th and found myself claiming the Carrefour Feuilles area because of its UN “red zone” status, which is still an issue to this day, and an unfortunate stigma that discourages community-based organizations from assisting the people of an area that has been severely destroyed and delays aid services.
It is now March 31, 2010. Just a few weeks shy of Haiti’s 3-month earthquake anniversary and I am here, committed to the community, orphanages, children, and the healing process. I have set up fiscal sponsorship through GlobalHood, a grassroots 501c3 organization for the Bagay Dwol Haiti Relief Fund- an initiative to empower hard to reach local Haitian communities throughout the rebuilding process of Haiti with the necessary tools and resources for survival and rehabilitation. I bridge the gap between the communities and major relief organizations to support the distribution of aid, work effectively with local orphanages, support the livelihood, protection, safety, and human rights of Haitian children, organize mobile medical clinics in underserved areas, and enlist local Haitian community organizers and residents in relief efforts. I also serve as interim Country Director for Nouvelle Vie Haiti, a capacity building program that provides stress/trauma relief “for Haitians by Haitians,” addresses food security by installing community gardens and empowers and trains Haitian youth leaders. I work with local communities and International Relief Organizations here in Haiti to bridge the gap by liaising with the Child Protection division of UNICEF, ACTED, the lead agency of the Carrefour Feuilles area and the Haiti Response Coalition, a network of local Haitian community-based organizations. Not only do I work with principles of empowerment, access, dignity, healing and respect, I mainly work with women, considering they are the life source of the family structure and many local organizations that serve communities in Haiti.
An example of some of the strides I have accomplished is the Request for Partnership: Proposal to start child protection community based services for orphanage registration. Since the earthquake, the state of Haitian orphanages has become increasingly turbulent while the need for them has risen acutely. In my work with child protection in the communities of Port-au-Prince, I've noticed that lack of official registration is a problem that comes up again and again, seriously hindering the ability of orphanages to operate according to quality standards and to demand accountability from the government. Many orphanages are not officially registered with the government agency that oversees them, IBERS (L'Institute de Bien-Etre et Recherche Social). This presents many problems for the orphanages and the children they serve. After the earthquake, for example, registered orphanages were the first to receive UNICEF and government help. Unregistered orphanages still remain far from the radar screen of international agencies because they are hard to track, and thus do not receive the services they need. What I'm hoping to do is set up a small community-based service that helps orphanages go through this process by guiding them through the paperwork, performing some of the administrative tasks for them, and paying the fee. This will expedite registration and ensure that children have their needs met as soon as possible. Unicef has responded to this request for partnership and I will soon begin to get this community-based registration program up and running. I have also been able to source emergency food kits, have water filtration systems installed for camps and orphanages through meeting with organizations with resources, and have successfully secured long term mobilization training for under served communities, mainly consisting of women. I am committed to Haiti and to the women who are the pillars of survival. Through providing resources that empower, heal, are respect and dignity-based, and are sustainable, the vision of an independent, proud and poverty-less Haiti can begin.