Updates from Roots of Development

Updates from Roots of Development

Roots of Development

Exciting updates from our recent trip to Haiti, including a partnership to restore the beauty of La Gonâve…

We are excited to announce we are going to be helping Environmental Cleaning Solutions S.A. (ECSSA) set up four recycling (collection) centers on the island of La Gonâve to begin cleaning up the towns and the coastline, so La Gonâve can get back to its original beauty. Materials like bottles, styrofoam and plastics cover the coastline of La Gonâve. Most of these goods are not even produced by residents of La Gonâve, but are carried over by the sea from mainland Haiti. Currently, the island has no trash collection services and residents have almost no way of of recycling plastics.

Coastline of La Gonave littered with trash

The collection centers will pay residents (per lb.) for the recyclable goods they collect and bring to the center. The centers will be run by Haitian entrepreneurs and create economic opportunities for many living on the island. Once a large enough quantity has accumulated amongst the collection sites, ECSSA will then come with boats to collect the goods and bring them back to their main collection site in Port-au-Prince, where they will then be transformed and/or packed up to be sold to buyers overseas.

Recycling and transformation at ECSAA's central collection site

Our partnership with ECSSA developed out of our ongoing goal to promote La Gonâve and get more organizations and businesses involved and active on the island. It aligns with our mission to improve quality of life on the island and support development initiaties that can be managed and led by local residents.

Be sure you follow Roots of Development on Facebook to be kept up-to-date on this and other exciting opportunities now happening on La GonâveConnect with us here.

Introduction to La Gonâve, Haiti

Unique shots from around La Gonave, Haiti

For over ten years, Roots of Development has focused its efforts almost exclusively on the island of La Gonâve, Haiti.

La Gonâve is Haiti’s largest island. In fact, La Gonâve is the largest of Hispaniola’s satellite islands. It is located to the west-northwest of Port-au-Prince, in the Gulf of Gonâve, and is part of Haiti’s Ouest Department. It is home to approximately 100,000 residents, which is a larger population than the majority of the territories and nations that make up the Caribbean. The indigenous Taínos called the island Guanabo.


The unique beauty of La Gonave

The island faces huge challenges, a major lack of infrastructure, a weak private sector, and very little attention from the national government, but it also has huge potential. It is a beautiful island, located in a strategic location, with picturesque coasts and acres of farmland. It has a large population, which represents a large, untapped market for goods and services, and it faces very few security concerns. The island is home to a group of strong local elected officials and an active civil society.

To learn more about La Gonâve, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BX9nde2RZe

Video about La Gonave

Continued Capacity Building in Communities!

Community leaders sit to discuss measuring the capacity of their organizations

During our last trip to Haiti, we met with leaders around the island to get their input on how best to measure the organizational capacity of community groups, organizations, and associations. Every aspect of our work is done in partnership with the communities and community leaders we work with on La Gonâve. Even the selection of indicators we use to measure a community group’s capacity, to measure our impact, is done in in partnership with those communities. This participatory evaluation strategy ensures our projects are fully inline with the priorities of a community and leads to greater development without dependency.

We also signed an agreement (an “ako”) with the community association AAPLAG, to work together over the next three years to strengthen local capacity and improve quality of life on La Gonave. AAPLAG mobilizes communities to carry out projects and development activities to create a safe and productive society. The organization has been active for over 30 years and has completed projects independently as well as in partnership with large international organizations across the entire island. We are excited to see the bigger and stronger impact this partnership will bring.


Roots of Development signs a partnership agreement with AAPLAG

By working to increase the capacity of residents and officials on La Gonave to plan and design their own community driven development projects, the results are stronger and more sustainable. We continuously strive to be an example of how development can and should be done, setting the bar higher for NGOs and other charitable organizations like us.

To continue doing all the unique and impactful work that we do, everything you are reading about in this newsletter, we need your continuous support. Please remember to donate when you can. All donations, regardless of size, make a difference.  



Getting Involved in KONBIT

In an effort to strengthen the projects we support, our own capacity as an organization, and to bring greater opportunities to the island of La Gonave, we are getting involved in the USAID funded program KONBIT, which is run by the Haitian firm Papyrus.

KONBIT, an initiative of USAID led by Papyrus

We have met to discuss their mission and how the services they are providing can benefit Roots and our local partners on La Gonâve. The word KONBIT, in Creole, refers to ”teamwork.” The project aims to establish comprehensive capacity development services for Haitian civil society organizations, so that they are better equipped to implement their own solutions to the country’s greatest development challenges. Papyrus, the implementing agency for this project, hopes to increase the number of local development partners that are capable of effectively competing for and managing USAID resources.

Partnerships like these, when added to the support we receive from individuals like you, help Roots grow… and increase our impact on La Gonave. Stay tuned for more details on how we end up using this interesting opportunity.



Roots of Development is a 501c3 organization that is audited annually by an independent CPA.
Flowing Tree w/ birds
Straight Tree

Like what you see? At our 10th Annual Fundraiser in DC we sold handmade Haitian metal art made by local craftsmen in the town of Croix des Bouquets. Historic to Haiti, this unique form of artwork is made from flattened metal drums, once used to transport oil, then carved into beautiful pieces of art. The following pieces are still available. Reach out to info@rootsofdevelopment.org if interested in purchasing a piece of art for $100, all proceeds support ongoing projects on La Gonâve.

Introducing ‘Roots for Rasin’ — Development Without Dependency at Its Best

Inside the walls of a 2,000-square foot building on the Haitian island of La Gonave, Roots of Development’s mission has come to life. When Field Director Lineda Paul asks questions about what Haitians need, they hear development without dependency. And when Haitians place their hands on the tile floor of the building — a permanent part of their hometown — they feel development without dependency.
This is Rasin Devlopman.
Established last year in Roots’ newly procured permanent office space on the island of La Gonave, Rasin, an independent Haitian organization, could implement Roots-funded projects on the island. Before that can happen, however, the organizations need to solidify a sustainable partnership.
No easy task, and we can’t do it without your help.

Your investment in “Roots for Rasin” will solidify a permanent, Haitian-run presence for Roots of Development on La Gonave.

Your investment in our newly launched “Roots for Rasin” campaign will quickly make Rasin Developman the official programming partner for Roots of Development on La Gonave. With the funds, Roots will hire a consultant to establish policies and procedures that will keep the organizations’ missions aligned for the foreseeable future. This arrangement will establish Rasin as Roots’ partner on the island, and ensure sustained funding for development without dependency in Haiti.
Roots, meanwhile, will emerge from this process as a transformed entity that focuses exclusively on raising funds for projects selected and implemented by Rasin and other Haitian organizations. Because these organizations are independent entities, they will not be dependent on Roots for programmatic guidance — and that is development without dependency at its best.
To donate to this campaign, click here and select “Roots for Rasin” from the dropdown on the next page.
Thank you in advance for your support of this project. It will pave the way for a new future for Roots. But much more importantly, it will help Haiti take control of its own future.


Sincerely yours,
Roots of Development

This Is Why You Support Roots of Development!…


Our expansion on the island of La Gonave is underway, and it has introduced us to a new group of dynamic leaders who are leading some truly inspiring community-driven development activities.


4-days of workshops on leadership, community, and economic development


From March 26th to March 29th, we carried out a series of workshops centered on Leadership, Community and Economic Development. The workshops were funded by the Inter-American Development Bank and carries out in partnership with CLE Haiti (Haitian Center for Leadership and Excellence). After months of planning, over 75 community leaders and government officials from across the island came together to participate in these workshops. They met other like-minded community leaders and focused on strengthening their capacity in various areas that will help them improve quality of life on the island.

The first three days of the program consisted of skills-building activities and included a presentation on the tools involved in “ABC Development” (Asset-Based Community Development), which is development that is driven by local resources and local leadership. A special emphasis was also given to economic development, including a program on budgeting and value chains.  Other workshops included a discussion on civic engagement and more collaborative and effective leadership.

The last day of the workshops was specifically dedicated to women leaders, and their role in the development of their communities. The women came from all parts of the island and included merchants, beauticians, activists, students, mothers, health promoters, government officials and more. A day focused on, and with, only woman participants provided a different dynamic and a discussion that takes into account the unique realities women leaders face in their communities. It ensured a strong representation of women in the program and a unique networking opportunity for the female leaders of La Gonave.

After the completion of these four days of workshops, participants were encouraged to return to their communities and organize their own workshops to share the information learned. Our staff will continue to follow up with those leaders and communities, reiterating the concepts and answering any questions that come up. We saw the emphasis on community-driven development really resonated with participants, and we expect it to make its way deeper into the approach and strategies used by local leaders on the island.

Additionally, after the first set of workshops was completed, two outstanding leaders were invited to participate in a Master Training Program (MTP), managed by our partner CLE and held in the north of Haiti a week later. Venicia Dacius and Gabriel Vadner, two elected local government representatives (CASEC) from two different communal sections on La Gonave took part in the two-week Master Training Program. Participants of the program were trained in specific competencies to then become “facilitators” themselves. They are now capable of, and expected to lead short technical training modules (PLTTPs) for leaders and organizations working in their communes.

“Organizational capacity building is both an end in itself and a means for increasing the power of citizens and communities.” CLÉ Haiti 

One of the biggest challenges to development work that is based on capacity-building, is measuring and demonstrating its impact. Unlike building a new school or hospital, the results are not necessarily seen immediately. However, it is only a local population’s ability to manage and maintain those buildings that makes it sustainable.

Roots of Development has worked intensely over the last year to find ways to better measure the impact our workshops have on participants, as individuals and on the communities they represent. In partnership with CLE Haiti and Hilltop Consulting of Georgetown University, we developed tools to assess the effectiveness and usefulness of these recent workshops and to track their impact over the coming months and years.

At the end of the four days, participants were asked for their feedback on the workshops such as which subjects were most and least helpful to them and which subjects they hope will be covered in the future.



Their feedback will help us understand which subjects are of greatest use to them and evaluate how their understanding of certain concepts has changed. Many of the comments shared with us gave us great insight into how participants are understanding the role of civil society after the completion of the workshops…

“We have to take the responsibility to change our community.”


“I will organize meetings to share with others what I have learned.”


“I think that if we apply what we learned here, we can solve many problems that we have faced for a long time.”

This program is part of Roots of Development’s long-term strategy of identifying and supporting a wide network of community leaders on the island of La Gonave, and providing them with opportunities to strengthen their organizational capacity in order to more effectively and more sustainably improve quality of life on the island. Roots of Development has always believed that investing in the capacity of the local population is the most sustainable approach to development: “Development Without Dependency” or if you prefer “Devlopman grès kochon kwit kochon”!

Please continue to support Roots’ activities. These programs, the follow-up that must be done afterwards, and the constant strengthening of our programs depend greatly on your continued support.




A visit to La Gonave by the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF)

Our last trip to Haiti was also important in that we started a new relationship with an important partner that we hope will get more and more involved in La Gonave’s development. We hosted the Pan American Development Foundation’s Country Director for Haiti, Nadia Cherrouk, as well as one of their senior community development specialists for a two-day tour of La Gonave.

We invited them out to get a better understanding of the island’s needs and its potential, and to explore ways in which they can bring their experience and expertise to the island to reinforce the work of local leaders and their communities. While visiting the island, they met with the mayor of Anse-a-Galets (La Gonave’s larger commune) and other government representatives and community leaders from around the island, communities up in the mountains and along its coastline.

The visit was productive, and has already resulted in introductions to companies that work in clean water and recycling. Together we are exploring programs we can bring to the island to address some of its greatest needs, include trash collection and recycling, access to clean water, economic development and community capacity-building. The visit of the Pan American Development Foundation is the first of what we hope will be many more visits by like-minded organizations that are willing to support local development efforts on the island of La Gonave.


A Powerful Video to Bring Attention to La Gonave

We are almost all set to produce our video about La Gonave! We have raised the funds needed (from a group of generous Haitian companies) and selected the production company in Haiti that will film and produce the video for us. We are coordinating with local officials and community groups to identify the most important sites to capture in the video, interviews to carry out, and projects to highlight.

The goal is to produce an attractive and intriguing video about La Gonave that will bring greater attention to the island. We plan to highlight its greatest challenges and showcase its tremendous potential, in order to attract more partners to get involved in the sustainable development of the island.

A Haitian multimedia/video production company called Muska Group will be filming and putting the video together for us. And, as we mentioned earlier, funding for the video came entirely from a group of Haitian companies dedicated to our work on La Gonave. Those companies include Maison Henri DeschampsGalerie MonninR&R ConstructionFondation Sogebank, and others. On behalf of Roots of Development and all our stakeholders and community partners on La Gonave, thank you so much for your generosity. This exciting and important video would not have been possible without your support!

The video will be completed by the end of June and premiered at our annual event in D.C. on Saturday, June 23rd. Stay tuned!


Tickets to our Annual Event in Washington D.C. are Now Available!

Show your support! Roots of Development’s largest and most important fundraising event of the year, held in Washington D.C., will take place this year on Saturday, June 23rd 2018.

Eventbrite - Roots of Development's 10th Annual Fundraiser in Washington DC

Diverse and influential guests, business and political leaders, media and entertainment personalities gather in D.C. to celebrate Haiti and support Roots of Development’s unique approach to development.

Food and cocktails will be served and are included in your ticket, as are many other exciting activities such as live music, dancing, artwork, notable guests, a silent auction, etc. And we have a couple of truly unique surprises up our sleeve this year, in celebration of the event’s 10th anniversary!

Be sure to join us. You and your guests will be educated, inspired, and treated to the very best Haiti and Roots have to offer!

Get your tickets now: https://roots10thannual.eventbrite.com

Eventbrite - Roots of Development's 10th Annual Fundraiser in Washington DC


Another thank you to all those who supported our CT fundraiser in March

Roots of Development’s 6th annual CT dance fundraiser took place this year on Saturday, March 24th. It was successful and a lot of fun. Thank you to all who showed up, to the organizers Linda and Peter Jacques for their time, energy, and steadfast commitment to Roots, and to all our corporate sponsors. Without your support, this event would not be the success it is every year. Thank you.




Updates on our projects

We just returned from Haiti with a lot of exciting updates, including one very powerful success story about the unpredictable impact of a rainwater collection tank…


During our last visit to Haiti, we visited a rainwater collection system we helped construct in the community of Nan Riske in 2012. When we arrived, we learned some very exciting news. Not only is the facility still running well, thanks to the strong and consistent management of the local community group, but several other exciting activities have come out of the water facility’s success.

Using excess rainwater collected in the system’s tanks, the community has been able to plant several community gardens, which are growing such vegetables as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and beans. But, what was even more extraordinary was that we learned that the system has brought in enough money to start a savings and lending circle. The leaders of the community group that manage the water facility, GPDN (Groupe Paysan de Développement Nan Riske), were able to take a portion of the money collected from residents when they collect water for personal use and combine it with money from a group of residents that wanted to create a savings and lending opportunity in the community.


The lending circle now has 35 borrowers and a fund of almost $4,000 US dollars. Imagine turning 5 gourdes (the equivalent of 8 cents in US$), which is what is collected from residents for every two buckets of water they take from the system, and turning it into what is now a community fund of almost US$4,000!


Those are the unplanned, unpredictable successes (consequences) of strong community development, of a development project that is chosen, and truly owned and entirely managed by the local community. An honest and incredibly exciting example of sustainable development.


A new solar lighting project with Parsons School of Design

Building on the success of our solar street lamp installations in 2016 and 2017, we will be partnering with Parsons School of Design to implement a new solar lighting project. We will be working once again with professor and professional lighting designer Chad Groshart, a group of Parsons graduate students, several U.S. solar energy and lighting companies, and a group of local leaders on La Gonave to light up a key location on the island.


The new installation will take place in May, in the town of Anse-a-Galets, la Gonave’s most populated town and main port of entry. We are in the process of working with the local mayor to select the location where the installation will take place. Mayor Ernso Louissaint got a chance to visit Gran Sous and see the solar street lamps that were installed by APDAG. He was impressed with the project and proposed that similar installations be done across the commune, in all six communal sections of Anse-a-Galets. He followed up with Professor Groshart, and the two groups are now in discussions about this year’s installation site/s.


The first potential project involves Anse-a-Galet’s largest public square. It was recently renovated, but in order to make it available for residents at night, a working lighting system needs to be set up. When lit, the square will become a space where residents will be able to visit 24/7, students will be able to study after dark, and more merchants will be able to start small businesses and sell their goods. It will also be used for public gatherings and large town celebrations. With a solid lighting design and reliable solar energy, the square will be able to reach its full potential.

The second potential site involves a new walkway that is currently under construction at the wharf in Anse-a-Galets. The idea is to separate visitors and passengers arriving to the island by boat from the overwhelming loading and unloading of products and goods that have been shipped to the island. When lit, the walkway will bid visitors to the island a warm welcome, and allow passengers safer travel regardless of the time they are arriving to or departing from the island. La Gonave needs a sustainable source of energy and lighting, and we are trying to help the mayor bring such opportunities to the island.

“The realization of such a project will, to name just a few, promote the creation and growth of small businesses, allow more students the chance to study at night, and for more people to engage in recreational activities.”  - Mayor Ernso Louissaint


In the past two years, this project has been supported by generous donors such as Atelier Ten Foundation, USAI Lighting, Bartco Lighting, Lumenwerx, Mercury Lighting, and several others. If you are interested in getting involved in this year’s solar lighting initiative, please contact us at info@rootsofdevelopment.org.


Important leadership workshops to take place on La Gonave in March

In March, we will be implementing a series of workshops aimed at strengthening the capacity of local leaders and government authorities on the island of La Gonave, in partnership with CLE-Haiti, the Haitian Center for Leadership and Excellence. With the financial support of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), CLE has been carrying out what they call Leadership Development Certificate Programs in the north of Haitiand will now be bringing that same program to La Gonave.


The workshops will begin with a conversation on development, specfically the definitions of sustainable and community-driven development. Participants will be asked to reflect on and share their knowledge of the island’s development history. Community resources will be mapped out and development priorities will begin to be identified. They will focus on strategies for addressing their priorities, which include citizen participation, developing partnerships, the mobilization of resources, and ensuring equal participation within the community.

“Organizational capacity building is both an end in itself and a means for increasing the power of citizens and communities.” CLÉ Haiti 


Participants will carry out exercises that include comparing municipal budgets, analyzing existing projects, and mapping local organizations and institutions. The goal is for leaders to strengthen their capacity in networking and communications, strategic planning and team management, and financial management and governance. At the end of the series, one day will be dedicated specifically to women’s leadership, and will include only female leaders from the island.


These workshops reinforce the skills of individual participants who then go back to the institutions they represent and share those skills, in order to increase their ability to improve living conditions in their communities. We are working with the materials provided to us last year by Georgetown University to come up with a set of indicators we will use to measure both the short-term and long-term impacts of these workshops. Stay tuned for more!

The Planning Phase for the Communal Development Plan is complete!


During our last trip to Haiti, we were able to sit with the team and finalize once and for all the plan and budget for the Communal Development Plan (CDP) project. We then traveled to La Gonave to present everything to Mayor Ernso Louissaint and one of the deputy mayors. We went over every line item in the budget, how the money would be spent and who would be managing what. We discussed each actor’s role and responsibilities, and went over the proposed timeline for implementation. Everyone is now up to speed and onboard with all the details.


We then divided up next steps, based on each person’s role within the project. The Mayor will be formally announcing, to the population and the appropriate government authorities, his intention to create an official communal development plan for the commune. He will also start the process to request the funds available in the Haitian Ministry of Planning (Ministère de la Planification et de la Coopération Externe) for such a project. Roots’ Field Director, Lineda Paul, and CEFCAD’s Philippe Fils-Aime have begun working on the indicators that will be used to monitor progress and measure the impact of the project. They are organizing and developing indicators to capture baseline data and others that will help measure changes (the impacts of the project) in the short, medium, and long-term.


Roots’ Executive Director, Chad Bissonnette, will be leading the efforts to secure the rest of the funding needed to implement the project. If you are interested in learning more or supporting this project, let us know.

Project Summary: We are working with our partner CEFCAD (Centre de Formation Citoyenne et d’Appui au Développement) and the Mayor of Anse-a-Galets to bring together leaders of local government and civil society on La Gonave and elaborate an official Communal Development Plan for the commune of Anse-a-Galets.


The strategic development plan will help harmonize the needs and priorities of the population, with the ultimate goal of helping local government officials and the local population be better equipped to manage their own development efforts.


The project will focus on strengthening knowledge and skills related to data collection, project management, budgeting and governance skills. It will help gather and distribute more information about the island (La Gonave), and create an opportunity for numerous diverse representatives from the municipality to come together and work on a common goal.

In the end, the Plan will serve as a guide for the development of the municipality and as a tool to attract partners and investors who can help realize the municipality’s development goals.

Our 6th Annual CT Dance Party & Fundraiser 

For those of you in Connecticut and the surrounding area, our 6th Annual CT Dance Party (Fundraiser) will take place on Saturday, March 24th at 6pm at the Willimantic Elks Lodge.


Join us to celebrate the beginning of spring, while supporting the work of Roots of Development. Come out and enjoy live music with the Band Steppin’ Out, a cash bar, a big raffle and lots of fun, all with a special theme…BLING! So come dressed in your most flashy clothing and shiny (fake) jewelry. The more over-the-top the better!


Haitian art will be available for purchase. Plus, you can bring your own snacks (though no personal beverages allowed). Get your tickets in advance for only $25 by contacting Linda at (860) 428-2097 or bewell444@gmail.com. Tables can be reserved for groups of 8-10 people as well. Adults only event (21+).


Tickets will be available at the door for $30, but remember space is limited. The event has sold out the past two years!


All proceeds support Roots of Development.