Progress Three Years After The Earthquake in Haiti

Progress Three Years After The Earthquake in Haiti

The standard narrative around Haiti since the January 12, 2010 earthquake involves cholera, dysfunction, and violence. The reality, however, in some rural communities like Gran Sous, is that of transformational change.  Our partnership with APDAG, the community association based in Gran Sous, has led to tangible successes.


According to IOM Haiti, 360,000 homeless Haitians still reside in tent camps. Although small in size APDAG has attacked this problem, building 16 permanent homes at a cost of $3,500 per house. At least one international non-profit spent the same on constructing transitional shelters as APDAG did on building permanent homes.  The $3,500 budget for APDAG’s homes pales in comparison to the now abandoned housing expo in Zoranje where model homes’ prices ranged up to $69,000.


An article in the New York Times less than a month after the earthquake, stated that “aid groups, United Nations officials, experts and Haitian government leaders reveal[ed] that communication was not a top priority early on. Inexperience and a go-it-alone approach contributed to the dysfunction. Contrast that depiction with what we saw on La Gonave where a community was able to control their own relief efforts.


Less than a week after the earthquake, APDAG had visited several surrounding communities, formally assessed the damage, and created spreadsheets that clearly identified the families that were hit hardest.  A week later, APDAG went into Port-au-Prince where they purchased 10 tons of food from a warehouse, rented a truck, and then hired a boat to transport the food to the island.  Within 48 hours APDAG managed to purchase, transport, and distribute food to over 330 families.


All too often, international groups have invested in large projects that don’t account for local input.  By April 2011, only 23 of 1490 U.S. government contracts had been awarded to Haitian businesses.  Some large American contractors, such as Chemonics International have come under fire for their poor performance.   A government audit of just 22 of 141 Chemonics projects in Haiti found several serious problems.  While Chemonics employs many Haitian workers, a report on the government audit noted that two “projects failed altogether because Chemonics did not involve local residents in the process.”


Meanwhile, GFDAG, a local all-volunteer women’s group, launched a wholesale food business in late 2012 and is already seeing significant profits. These women have a mission to create a social enterprise that reinvests in their community. Now, GFDAG will be paying for local orphans’ educational costs with their profits. This is all a part of our vision: local ownership and sustainable development.


If Haitian groups are truly allowed to manage their own development, we expect to see great results.  From access to basic needs to educational workshops, Roots of Development has provided APDAG the means to shape the future of their communities in a remote and neglected part of Haiti.  When Executive Director Chad Bissonnette started working in Haiti, another NGO worker told him “You’ll need to have someone on the ground there to manage things.”  APDAG continues to prove otherwise.


Support From DoJiggy For Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts

Roots of Development is pleased to accept a $500 grant from DoJiggy, an online fundraising platform that has helped make our Ride and Walk in Connecticut a success for several years.  We would like to thank our supporters who helped show their support on DoJiggy’s Facebook page last month.


The funds will help APDAG with permanent repairs to their water system damaged during Hurricane Sandy.  We are still seeking approximately $10,000 to help APDAG build large protective structures to ensure that heavy rains and large storms cannot take away their access to water again.

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A Holiday Thank You From Roots

I went down to Haiti for the first time in 2005 at the age of twenty-three. I had no idea that that trip would eventually lead me to the founding of an organization that has already helped thousands of impoverished community members access clean water and public toilet facilities, and open community businesses that create jobs and bring in revenue. I had no idea it would prompt the creation of an alternative approach to development that is based on empowerment and independence, instead of handouts and dependency.


I’ve got stories from living and working in Haiti that will make you laugh, scream, and cry, but the stories that have stuck with me the most are those of the individuals and communities that have willingly tackled overwhelming obstacles in order to ensure the lives of their family members and future generations of community members would be improved.


I am extremely grateful to you for believing in me, believing in Roots, and for the sacrifices you have made to support the efforts of the communities we work with!


Your confidence and continued support is the best present we could receive. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope you have a very special holiday.








Chad W. Bissonnette

Executive Director


P.S. Visit us on Facebook if you are interested in making a donation this holiday season in honor of a friend, colleague, or family member.

DC Event: The Heart of Haiti

Join Roots of Development on Monday, November 12th, from 6:30pm until 9pm at Washington DC’s Studio Theatre for The Heart of Haiti, a community-inspired fashion event and gala to benefit our work in Haiti.


Guests will enjoy complimentary beer and wine as they browse our design competition finalists, silent auction items, and Roots store.  Our fashion show will highlight designs from our recent Designs for Development competition with outfits styled by local boutiques.  Guests will choose the winners of the first place $1,000 prize and runner-up $500 prize in the “Pep La” category (Haitian Creole for “The People”) by voting for their favorite designs.  Awards will be announced toward the end of the night.


General Admission tickets are available for $40.  Tickets for Young Professionals are just $30.


NBC Washington’s Wendy Rieger will serve as MC for the night with media coverage by DC Modern Luxury and DC Hot Spots.  If you already have your tickets, head over to Facebook and share our event with your friends and family!

Designs for Development Deadline Extension


We would like to announce a deadline extension for our 2nd annual Designs for Development competition. The new deadline to submit up to two t-shirt designs, is 11:59pm on Sunday, September 30th. The full competition details, including mechanical requirements, can be found over on the competition page.


Winners in both categories will be announced at our event in Washington, D.C. on Monday, November 12th (winners do not have to be present). Please help us get the word out by sharing competition images or links from our Facebook page!