Exciting Updates For You!

Exciting Updates For You!

Roots of Development

Interested in what Roots of Development has been up to?
Here are some exciting updates…

1. The construction of 4 new homes for families who lost them in Hurricane Matthew is almost complete.

​2. I
n partnership with Parsons School of Design, our local community partners will be installing another set of solar street lamps on the island this May.

3. The award-winning Haitian band RAM is coming to Washington D.C. to perform at our annual event, Saturday, June 17th. The event will sell out! Get your t
ickets now at https://roots9thdcfundraiser.eventbrite.com

4. We have a new staff member, Field Director Lineda Paul, and will soon have our own office and meeting space, as well as sleeping accommodations on La Gonave, to support the growth of our activities on the island.

5. We are preparing to carry out a 3-5 year municipal development plan with the local mayor's office and La Gonave's civil society. If you are interested in learning more or potentially supporting this project, contact us at info@rootsofdevelopment.org.

More details about each below…

Many exciting projects...

We are helping our local partners build new homes

Hurricane Matthew completely destroyed the homes of 805 families on La Gonave. It was a tremendous amount of damage and a huge setback for one of the most challenged parts of Haiti. Immediately after the hurricane we began working hard to ensure the Haitian government and the international community responsible for the relief effort would not forget about La Gonave and include it in the national relief and reconstruction plan. It has been included by name, but even after having two of our projects for La Gonave approved and the international community raising over $25 million for relief efforts, very little has gone to La Gonave and we have received no funding for the community projects that were approved. In fact, we are being told the $25 million has already been spent, and that it is unlikely more will be raised…leaving La Gonave and those 805 families without support.

So we are pushing forward, as always, and using the funds you helped us raise after the hurricane to rebuild as many homes as that support allows. Our local partners are about to complete the construction of four new homes for four families who were identified as being in greatest need. We hope to help more families rebuild in the near future.

Four new homes soon to be completed.


Another installation of solar street lamps with Parsons School of Design

Professor Chad Groshart and a group of students from Parsons School of Design in NYC will be traveling to Haiti in May to help install another set of solar street lamps. This will be the second time Parsons is working with Roots of Development to help communities on La Gonave sustainably address their lighting needs. The lamps installed last year are being used by the community to come together after dark, help local merchants sell their products, and students study at night after the sun has gone down.

A new set of solar street lamps will soon be installed.


Join us at our exciting annual event in Washington D.C. on June 17th

JOIN US at our 9th annual event!

Every year, diverse and influential guests gather in Washington D.C. to celebrate Haiti and support Roots of Development’s unique approach to development.

Last year sold out, and we expect the same to happen this year. Tickets are already on sale, including a limited amount of "early bird" discount tickets (until May 1st), so get yours now.

Eventbrite - Roots of Development's 9th Annual Fundraiser in Washington DC

One of the real highlights of this year's event is going to be the live performance from the award-winning Haitian band RAM. RAM has been one of the prominent bands in the mizik rasin musical movement in Haiti and is well known for its Thursday night performances at the Hotel Oloffson in Port-au-Prince.


With a live performance by RAM


A new team member and field office in Haiti

To help us manage our expansion of activities on La Gonave, we have hired a new full-time staff in Haiti, Ms. Lineda Paul. Lineda comes to us after having worked many years for the international organization TECHO. She will serve as our Field Director and be responsible for expanding our programs on La Gonave, helping our local partners implement projects, and measure their impact and growth in capacity. 

Help us welcome the newest member of our staff Lineda Paul

We will also soon have office and meeting space on La Gonave, so that we can appropriately support the two large projects we have coming up later in the year. As we expand our efforts on the island, we begin working with more communities and more local leaders. Having our own office and meeting space, and accommodations, will be cost effective and allow us to better serve our partners. 

Two upcoming large local capacity-building development projects 

We have begun working with two Haitian partner organizations to bring two very exciting leadership development and community capacity-building programs to the island of La Gonave. We will be working with one of the organizations, CLE (Le Centre Haitien du Leadership et de L'Excellence), to carry out trainings and workshops with 70 local leaders from around the island (35 of which will be women). We will focus on strengthening skills related to leadership, economic development, and civic engagement. 

Two exciting upcoming community development projects

We are in the final stages of planning a second, longer project we hope to carry out with our partners CEFCAD (Centre de Formation Citoyenne et d Appui au Developpement). The project will be in partnership with the mayor's office of Anse-a-Galets. We will be working with the mayor and La Gonave's civil society to strengthen governance and increase local ownership of the development process. The 18-month project will result in a 3-5 year official development plan for the municipality. The development plan will be developed entirely by local residents and leaders, printed, and available to all parties interested in helping La Gonave explore its greatest opportunities and address its greatest needs, as identified by them. 





Roots of Development is a 501c3 organization that is audited annually by an independent CPA.

Initial Assessment of Damage on La Gonave after Hurricane Matthew

Here is the initial assessment of the damage on La Gonave after Hurricane Matthew, compiled by the island’s government representatives. One version is in Creole and one is in English. A final assessment has not yet been completed because some locations have been hard to reach, but it is clear from the initial report that the damage is already extensive. Over 1,000 homes destroyed and another 6,000 damaged. Our estimate is that over a third of the island’s infrastructure has been impacted.




Guidelines for Helping in the Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew

1. Wait for the Needs- Wait for formal assessments from the government and from local organizations with already established relationships on the ground.


2. Work Within the System- Work under the direction of local government officials and/or with organizations that understand the needs and already have systems in place on the ground.


3. Raise or Give Cash and Give Locally- Funds (instead of goods) can get to those in need faster and more cheaply, and can always respond to the greatest need of the moment. Collected goods can be costly to transport, not fulfill a specific need, prevent needed goods from getting where they need to go, and undermine the local economy.


4. Few Volunteer Opportunities- Like unsolicited collected goods, untrained volunteers can clog the system and undermine the work of established relief organizations. If you do fit (can fill) a need, make sure you are wanted, your arrival is known beforehand, and that the logistics surrounding your trip are worked out in advance (i.e. transportation, lodging, and access to food/water).


5. Don’t Work Alone- Try to combine forces with other groups wanting to help in order to avoid duplicating efforts or overwhelming those on the ground.



Raise funds and foster community awareness of established organizations!

[VIDEO] Our Approach to Hurricane Matthew Relief

A video from our Executive Director, Chad W. Bissonnette, regarding Roots of Development’s planned approach to supporting its local partners after #Hurricane #Matthew. While we recognize the need to provide our partners with support during this tough time, we want to make sure it fits within our commitment to long-term sustainable community-driven development. So communities are better prepared to manage their own development, and in this case, their own relief efforts.

New Solar Street Lamps Installed on La Gonave

Roots of Development is happy to announce the success of the recent community driven project in Gran Sous to bring public lighting to the village.


A group of students from Parson’s School of Design in New York City donated and worked alongside Roots’ local partners to install solar powered LED lighting at key areas of Gran Sous. Led by Parsons faculty member and alumnus Chad Groshart, six students in the Parsons’ Lighting for Developing Countries class traveled from New York City to Haiti.


The culmination of a semester-long study on light poverty in less developed countries, the project used the design skills and critical thinking of the students to craft a sustainable, durable solution to the committee’s request for public lighting.

“Through this project, our students have demonstrated that lighting design has the power to improve the quality of life for an entire community,” Groshart said. “Not only does light allow the community to socialize, study, and sell goods after dark, it is also seen as a marker of progress that will help it to attract more partners to advance development.”


Through each stage of the project, Groshart and his students focused on a homegrown approach to development: The team sourced needed gear from local vendors and worked closely with community residents on the design and installation of the lighting system.

“The idea of development shouldn’t come from us, but from the community with which we’re working,” Groshart said. “There’s a long history of outside organizations with good intentions bringing ill-begotten solutions to Haiti. Our approach, which mirrors the approach of Roots of Development, is to give the community the tools they need to drive their own progress.”


Responding to a request from The Professional Association for the Development and Advancement of Gran Sous (La Gonave), a local community group established by Roots of Development, Groshart and his students worked with local residents to develop an action plan to bring public lighting to their community. Together with residents of Gran Sous, students dug holes for the lights and set them in concrete.

“After we completed the task of installing several solar lighting fixtures around Grand Sous, the faces of the residents told an entire story in one glance,” Alexander Valencia, MA Architecture ‘17, said. “They were proud of their lights and everyone in La Gonave was excited about the development. But more important than their sense of pride was their sense of connection to the larger community of Haiti and the rest of the world.”

To view more photos from this exciting project click here.


The project was sponsored by the Atelier Ten Foundation, Bartco Lighting, Lumenwerx Lighting, and USAI Lighting. A huge thank you to them and Roots of Development’s many partners.