This post is the first in a series looking at a trip to Haiti by our CEO David Barth and Program Coordinator Farrah Ali-Khan.
Devastated by earthquakes in 2010, Haiti continues to struggle to rebuild. Its people were already struggling. The natural disaster enhanced the challenges they faced to improve their lives. Sexual abuse and violence against women, for example, are greater problems than previously.
World Accord’s David Barth and Farrah Ali-Khan made their first visit to the country in December to see firsthand how your support of Haiti is helping. They went on a group tour coordinated by our partner Foundation for International Development Assistance / Productive Cooperatives Haiti (FIDA/pcH) that included other funders.
Since the earthquakes, an overwhelming number of foreign aid workers have arrived to help Haiti. Though well intended, their solutions are often not sustainable by the Haitians. Not the best fit for a country that has historically experienced massive foreign interference and blatant racism.
FIDA and World Accord believe it is better to empower Haitians to help themselves. We do so by funding agricultural cooperatives.
The earthquake strengthened Haitians’ resolve. They’ve interpreted it as a call for action. Their determination to make a difference in their lives enhances the chances for sustainable change.
David and Farrah went to the mountainous area of Duchity, which is the western part of the country, and Fon Batis, just north of Port au Prince. The landscape in these communities was quite different.
Duchity is quite green and lush. That is likely to change as a highway being built there soon will give charcoal vendors an easier way to the city and access to the national market. Since charcoal, a popular fuel for cooking is made by burning trees deforestation will follow.
Fon Batis is already severely deforested. We were told there will never be a good yield of crops and always some drought due to the deforestation.
Overall, the trip gave David and Farrah a glimpse into the strength and fortitude of the Haitians. But they also witnessed the sad reality of a people who have been told how to change rather than given the opportunity to create their own change.
Our work with FIDA is explicitly designed to counteract the tumultuous relationship Haitians have with aid. We are trying to empower Haitians to be the change they want to see.
A great example is how when a woman learns how to read and write, she can take her case against her abuser to court. Or she knows how to provide better care for her children or may have a better future working for the government. Becoming literate is like taking off a blindfold, it showers light upon opportunities for a better life