Global Seva Challenge 2011: Haiti
The Global Seva Challenge 2011 was focused on supporting humanitarian efforts in Haiti.
Haiti Notes from Suzanne's Recent Trip to Haiti:
Haiti needs us now more than ever…
Earthquakes and tsunamis and hurricanes are racking the planet…causing chaos and devastation. There is much work to do everywhere and at times it can feel overwhelming to make choices about how best to serve. So why…many people have asked me, are we focusing Seva Challenge 2011 on raising money for Haiti? Someone told me recently that embedded in the Chinese symbol for crisis is the symbol for opportunity. Having just returned from a site visit to Haiti I can see how much this applies there.
Compared to even 6 months ago, the situation is much better for many…the airport is up and running, streets are being cleared of rubble and people are doing their best to go on living. Yet there are still millions living in tent cities, exposed to cholera and lacking in basic amenities and some of the larger NGO's are now leaving. In fact one of the biggest IDP (internally displaced people) camps that we visited in Port au Prince had just found out that the International Aid organization that had been helping them was pulling out of Haiti…leaving them to deal with the immense and dangerous problem of waste removal on their own.
In the city of Port au Prince, these immediate needs of rubble removal, water/waste treatment and education are crucial and we will be spending a few days of our Seva Challenge trip focused on doing just that. However, in speaking with many local Haitians it is also clear that offering long term and sustainable solutions is even more important to the future of this incredible country.
Therefore our original plan to support sustainable communities and create jobs through micro loans in cities outside of Port au Prince (thereby decentralizing the overpopulation in that city) is a sound one. However, though our original intention was to provide land and temporary housing, it became immediately clear that what we were being asked for over and over again, was jobs…helping people become financially able to care for themselves with dignity. Every Haitian I met was extremely proud of their country and their people and expressed the need for empowerment through employment…self sufficiency as opposed to another hand out or another temporary shelter. In other words, they were asking for our assistance in their long term vision and sustainability.
This is exactly what we stand for and work for in the OTM community and so we have revised the original plan in order to focus on creating more opportunities for micro- loans for the extremely poor, small business loans for community collectives, long term water capture and treatment systems, the planting of over 1000 trees, and supporting three separate programs for orphans and poor children. We are still in conversation about some of the details but here is a summary of the updated projects and partners.
I believe that in this work, we will be helping Haitians to rebuild not only their buildings and communities, but also rebuilding a solid foundation of self reliance, educational opportunity and the chance to see thriving and healthy communities all over this beautiful island.
Much love Suzanne
Project and Partner Overview:
1. Because of the great work Fonkoze and Zafen are doing, we are will be increasing the time and funding spent on these two organizations. We will spend time with both Fonkoze to be educated about micro-financing and meet loan recipients and time with Zafen to meet sponsored small businesses.
2. Association of the Peasants of Fondwa - we move forward with helping to build the community center and jump start the reconstruction of their community project. We include a tree planting initiative: 1,000 trees sponsored and planted.
3. We will work with Fountains of Hope in support of AFP in Fondwa to install water filtration systems at the orphanage and school.
4. Jacmel Children's Center - we will offer funding and building support for this much needed orphanage in Jacmel. We will also fund and work with the Faith & Love Orphanage supporting their dental clinic, and now a chicken coop that sustains the kids.
5. Art Creation Foundation for Children - we will be helping to fund their incredible work feeding and teaching kids art skills and funding a mural project by the kids in the city of Jacmel.
6. JPHRO - supporting and working on their successful rubble removal project