All posts tagged La Gonave
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.
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
Program Director Louino “Robi” Robillard – Empowering 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
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
We just completed Phase 1 of our COVID-19 response plan.
We carried out awareness campaigns in 6 of the 11 communal sections that make up La Gonave and installed more than 80 hand washing stations throughout those six sections. We are in constant contact with our network of community leaders on the island, who continue to evaluate and report back on the situation and maintain the hand washing stations that were installed in their communities. We are in contact with staff at La Gonave’s only hospital and are a member of the COVID-19 emergency response committee that the mayors of Anse-a-Galets and Pointe-a-Raquette formed to respond to this emergency more effectively. The committee includes other elected officials, a representative from the Ministry of Public Health and the hospital in Anse-a-Galets, and various NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that work on the island.
Phase 2 of our plan includes training leaders in the five remaining communal sections of the island and quickly spreading awareness about the virus and distributing prevention materials there. If we are able to raise the funding needed, Phase 2 will also involve supporting the production and distribution of locally sewn masks, and a micro-grant initiative that will put funds directly in the hands of communities leading their own COVID-19 prevention efforts.
By investing in local leadership on the island for the past decade, we have been helping La Gonave prepare for moments just like these. With our community-driven approach to development and our strong network, we are able to support effective emergency response efforts and the following longer-term, recovery efforts in a way that does not compromise future development or resiliency, but instead strengthens local capacity. Increasing evidence and policy guidance have been pointing towards the importance of local leadership in development, crisis response, and post-crisis recovery and resilience. Roots of Development is uniquely situated to accompany the people of La Gonave in their fight against COVID-19.
COVID-19 and La Gonave
La Gonave is in a unique situation in terms of the potential spread and impact of COVID-19 across Haiti. As an island accessible only by boat, the virus may take more time in reaching the island than the rest of the densely populated and interconnected mainland. However, while that isolation may be an advantage in terms of delaying the arrival of COVID-19, it quickly becomes a disadvantage in terms of facing the threat of the virus once it arrives. La Gonave only has one full-service hospital, The Wesleyan Hospital in Anse-a-Galets. The hospital is currently equipped with 40 beds. As of mid-April, based on information obtained by Roots of Development from hospital management, the hospital was in possession of sufficient masks and gloves for staff but did not have sufficient eye protection. The hospital has minimal oxygen capacity (only enough for about 3 or 4 patients) and no ventilators. According to reports, there are only around 60 ventilators in the entire country (Haiti). Testing is not available on the island.
The geographical isolation of La Gonave makes it unlikely for medical reinforcement to arrive in the event of a surge of COVID-19 cases. Supply chain management for basic medical supplies on the island is a challenge in non-emergency times. With reduced movement, closed markets, and other limitations caused by the pandemic, La Gonave’s health systems will struggle to maintain supplies. La Gonave’s isolation as an island also makes it difficult for those with COVID-19 to seek treatment elsewhere.
La Gonave has long been socio-politically marginalized from the mainland. It was largely forgotten in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, and it is likely the same will occur during this emergency. On May 18th, there were 533 reported cases of COVID-19 in Haiti, including 21 deaths. The number of new cases is starting to quickly rise.
“Haiti, spared a major coronavirus outbreak so far, now a ‘tinderbox’ set to ‘explode’.” – The Washington Post, 5/15/2020
It is essential that we, in partnership with our local partners (island leaders), use this time to educate as many citizens as possible, distribute necessary equipment, and prepare La Gonave for the impact of COVID-19.
Please continue to support our emergency efforts by making a donation today!