The last several days have been a whirl-wind as we left Les Cayes for Port-au-Prince. While we initially had planned a return to Wharf Jeremie to deliver 300 solar lights, problems at customs have delayed their delivery. As a result, we had to return to Wharf Jeremie with the news that our trainers would deliver the lights as soon as they arrived. Generally speaking, people seemed to understand that importing
items to Haiti is oftentimes a problem. I think we were more upset about the situation than the program participants. The children who were in session when we arrived were very excited to see us.
We had the pleasure of meeting with Rosalind Benjamin, a friend of Andre’s and prestigious psychotherapist in Haiti working with victims of trauma. Rosalind is doing incredible work with parents who are working on discipline with their children without resorting to corporal punishment, which is a culturally acceptable practice in Haiti. Obviously, this cycle must end if there is a desire to reduce violence in the future. Rosalind is doing an incredible job at working to shift behaviors and thinking around parenting.
We also were able to meet with Sister Armelle and Brother Franklin. Both are members of the Sisters and Brothers of the Incarnation respectively, and also work with the people in Pandiassou. Sister Armelle has noted that, in is 34 years of service in Pandiossou, Brother Franklin has “made the desert bloom.”
Sister Armuelle has helped to establish a center for boys who previously lived on the streets of Port-au-Prince. These boys are now being educated in very hands on skills of their choosing to prepare them for life after high school. Boys study everything from plumbing and architecture to engineering and work on real projects on the property. They are establishing a very large tilapia fish farm and are running a bakery on site that produces bread to be sold at
market. It is a very impressive program that is doing incredible work for the kids in Port-au-Prince that really would have nowhere else to turn. It is clear that the boys have a lot of respect for the Sisters and Brothers of the Incarnation who are running the facility.
Their work can not be summarized easily. From micro-loans to families who are in need and qualify for the assistance and free health care for farmers to reforestation and massive irrigation projects, the Sisters and Brothers have had a great impact on the people in the Central Plateau and in Pandiassou in particular.
Last night, we met with Arielle Salomon who works with the Entrepreneurial Finance Lab (EFL) as their in country operations manager in Haiti. EFL is working to open up access to credit for people who might not otherwise qualify. EFL works with banks to establish parameters for lending based on a simple test given to those interested in micro-financing. This is allowing small business owners to get the financial support needed to expand their work in countries where access to credit is very difficult. This work is very important in Haiti and we look forward to seeing the impact that EFL is able to have.
As we prepare to head back to Los Angeles, we are both encouraged and exhausted. While many of the macro-problems in Haiti are well beyond our control, we feel very optimistic about the work we are doing with our program participants in Wharf Jeremie and Les Cayes. Our trainers are strong and we have faith that, though there are always improvements that can be made, we have the pieces in place to both strengthen and expand our work. Clearly, we need continued financial support to make this happen and we look forward to sharing the results of our work with you in order to bolster your confidence in the work you are allowing to take place. We are humbled by our privilege after visiting communities of people with so little. We are also emboldened to continue what we are doing in Haiti and are excited about the work that is to come.