Update post-earthquake: A pledge to support long-term efforts

Update post-earthquake: A pledge to support long-term efforts

Dear Supporters,

At the moment, there are a lot of folks suffering in Haiti. People are being treated for injuries and grieving the loss of loved ones. Food and water are being distributed, and rubble is being cleared.

There is also a more coordinated, more Haitian-led response to this emergency, thanks to investments made in government agencies after the 2010 earthquake such as the Haitian Directorate for Civil Protection (CPD) and the creation of groups like the Haitian Diaspora Emergency Response Unit and the Haiti Response Coalition. Roots of Development is a member of both groups.

The Haiti Response Coalition, in partnership with a group of diaspora and Haiti-based organizations, recently launched a campaign calling on all those who operate in Haiti to pledge to a set of standards for a Haitian solution and a rights-based response to the disaster. Roots of Development has signed the pledge and urges others to read it and do the same. In its explanation of the campaign, the Coalition states the following:

“We hope the international community will respond swiftly to this latest tragedy as it has so generously in the past. But [also] move away from ‘fatal assistance,’ and support organizations that are a part of Haitian solutions respecting minimum standards in solidarity to a recovery that builds a more equitable Haiti for Haitians.”

As you know, this statement summarizes the principles that have guided Roots of Development’s work since our founding.

Roots of Development pledges to respect Haitian leadership and reinforce Haitian capacity.

Our approach to development – our very mission in fact – has been to work directly with local leaders, help them reinforce their capacity, and follow their lead. Roots of Development strongly believes this is the only way to do development respectfully and the only way to generate truly sustainable, long-term change.

Roots of Development pledges to align with and support long-term efforts.

While many countries around the world are exposed to the same threats (earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and droughts), the destruction and loss of life is incomparable to the level of devastation that Haiti regularly experiences. But Haiti and its people do not have to keep living through one disaster after another. By making long-term investments in the country’s infrastructure and leaders, we can help make it more resistant to these natural events.

We cannot view Haiti as an “emergency state” and only contribute profoundly when the country is facing a crisis. We need to support strategic, long-term commitments to strengthen the capacity of local leaders, who can build infrastructure, expand services, and improve quality of life. If we do not invest in sustainable development in Haiti, the country will be in no better shape the next time a disaster hits.

Please contribute to our strategic efforts in Haiti: www.rootsofdevelopment.org/donate

We rely on your ongoing financial support to sustain and expand our program and promote an alternative, more sustainable approach to development.


Chad W. Bissonnette

Executive Director

Release of our 2020 Annual Report

Meeting with the Executive Funder’s Circle

On Tuesday, March 16, 2021, members of Roots of Development’s Executive Funder’s Circle joined board members and staff for a live update on programs and operations.

To learn more about and/or join our Executive Funder’s Circle click here.

Leadership Profile – Faradhia Moise

Chief Operating Officer Faradhia Moise – Committed Citizen

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world, indeed it’s the only thing that ever has,” —- Margaret Mead

Faradhia Moise is lucky to be alive.

The devastating earthquake of 2010 buried her alive under the rubble of a local grocery store. She was trapped for two days before she was finally discovered and rescued. “The trauma of this experience was life-changing,” says Faradhia. “It inspired me to give back to my homeland.” 

Not long after the earthquake, she participated with a team to run the 2012 ING Marathon held in Miami, FL to raise funds for recovery in Haiti. “It was a very uplifting activity because the team that ran with me was from a mix of nations, but they were united for one cause,” says Faradhia. The funds raised were used towards community projects for the organization she worked for at the time.

Today, Raisin Devlopman is fortunate to have Faradhia as its Chief Operating Officer, helping to lead their efforts to improve quality of Iife for the people of La Gonave.

Faradhia, like the renowned cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, believes that “a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can [indeed] change the world.” And she is utilizing Mead’s philosophy in her daily efforts with Rasin Devlopman. “We tend to believe that success is linked to big accomplishments and the use of a significant sum of money. However, success starts with small things—-with the will to engage people to fulfill a dream and to pursue it,” explains Faradhia. “That is why, through my work with Rasin, I continue to encourage our stakeholders to be part of their change, and to accompany them in that sense.”

Faradhia has extensive experience in community development, project management and operations, and advocacy. With an MBA in Management Leadership from the University of Monterrey, Mexico, she was able to further develop her skills with organizations such as World Vision, Save the Children, Plan Haiti and Oxfam. 

“Rasin’s approach was very appealing to me. Working with all stakeholders within a community represents a different way of implementing projects, and, what is more important is that it guarantees sustainability,” explains Faradhia. 

At Rasin Devlopman, Faradhia is responsible for the oversight of the organization’s projects and the management of its finances and human resources, as well as the mobilization of resources (fundraising) and communications between Rasin Devlopman and Roots of Development. Rasin activities focus primarily on capacity-building, civic engagement, and economic development.

“During COVID, we diverged some of our regular programming funds to address the pandemic,” says Faradhia. “But we are now looking forward to raising more funds to maintain our regular programs and focus even more on women’s empowerment, for example.”

It was a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens that rescued Faradhia from the earthquake’s rubble in 2010. Now it is her turn to use her skills to support other groups as they work hard to improve quality of life on the island of La Gonave, Haiti.

Interview by Sharon Callahan

Leadership Profile – Louino Robillard

Program Director Louino “Robi” RobillardEmpowering Communities in Haiti

“I was looking for new opportunities to contribute to positive social change,” says Haitian activist Louino “Robi” Robillard.  A community development expert, Robillard has found those opportunities with Rasin Devlopman on the island of La Gonave.

At only 34-years old, Robi has already made huge inroads into transforming some of Haiti’s most impoverished communities. From replanting deforested areas in the village of Saint Raphael, where he was born, to mobilizing young people in nearby communities to help build Haiti’s largest library, Robi has empowered others to lead — generating positive development without future dependency.

Over the past decade, Robillard, who holds an MA in Applied Community Change and Peacebuilding, has deftly utilized his education, along with his passion, to push for change and  encourage the brightest of young people to take charge of their own futures.

As Program Director for Rasin Devlopman, Robi is overseeing the organization’s work on La Gonave. His position came about as Roots of Development scaled down its involvement in the work on the ground, in order to be more helpful by focusing on communications and fundraising. Rasin Developman now oversees all aspects of the projects on La Gonave and programming in Haiti.

“It is development without dependency at its best,” says Chad Bissonette, Executive Director of Roots of Development. “The entire team in Haiti that is working with our local partners to implement projects on La Gonave is Haitian. They are folks who have lived the challenges and know the culture. They are the most well-equipped to find the solutions and ensure success.”

According to Robi, “’Our young people can learn the skills necessary to advance the quality of life in their own communities, They must become our ‘agents of change,’ maintaining the momentum needed to sustain continued positive development.”

“Things get done when people and communities come together to work for a common cause. In Haiti, we call it ‘konbit’ —the traditional form of a Haitian labor cooperative,” explains Robi. A proponent and teacher of konbit, he has written extensively about this traditional practice and how it can be used to leverage for social cohesion.

Robillard put the tradition to work in 2011, when he co-founded Konbit Soley Leve, which is a social movement in the marginalized area of Cite Soleil that brought together different neighborhoods to create social change. Building on this movement is Konbit Bibliyotèk Site Soley (Cite Soleil Konbit Library), a social mobilization initiative with a goal of building a modern public library in Cite Soleil. In the past three years, over 6,000 individual donors, most of whom are from Cite Soleil, have contributed over 23 million gourdes (approximately $216,000 US) and 25,000 books. Construction of the library is well underway, but the initiative has already changed the dialogue about community-led development in Haiti.

With a Rasin Developman, Robi will utilize Konbit to inspire and train the people of La Gonave to take their development, their future into their own hands. He is identifying promising young leaders and helping them develop the tools to understand and build on their strengths, to build new infrastructure, protect their families from public health threats like COVID-19, and develop more economic activities in their communities. Robi believes that other people will not save Haiti for Haitians, just as other people will not save La Gonave for Gonavians.

“I see Rasin Devlopman as an organization committed to helping bridge local development with global solidarity, leaving behind old forms of aid that promote dependency,” says Robi. “By reaching back into their collective history, identifying their common resources and values, and committing themselves to the long haul, I believe that the people of La Gonave can transform their future.”

Interview by Sharon Callahan