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Orphanages & Communities: Religious Relief

March 25, 2010

I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside some amazing individuals.  I can’t stress how grateful I am to be a apart of a rebuilding process that is inclusive, empowering, accessible. and dignified- all through supporting local Haitian communities and individuals.  At times, I facilitate a process.  At other times I coordinate, with Carrefour Feuilles I am learning how to mobilize, and within the log base and bigger agencies I am learning how to be effective and provide solutions from all of the voices I encounter and hear in the communities.  Never have I felt so proud to be Haitian than this moment.  We work hard.  We have solutions.  We care for our neighborhoods.  We not only survive, but given the opportunity to, we thrive in the face of adversity.  The smarts and entrepreneurship and skill that allow the people to be independent are worth supporting, and so I am simply grateful to be here.

I have been working to assist and support several youth programs, orphanages, and schools.  One of them is called OJFA, Organisation des Jeunes Filles en Action.   I met Nadine, the woman who owns the program through an American woman named Yvette.  Yvette does not speak any Kreyol but felt compelled to come down to Haiti after working to support Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  She found me through the network of the Haiti Response Coalition.  Since I went to the orphanage with Yvette that first day I have been actively supporting Nadine and getting her orphanage supplies through Masani Accime, who I worked and coordinated with shortly after the earthquake.  Nadine and her husband have been providing shelter for 106 young children and girls who are displaced since January 12th.  They were restaveks, orphans and abandoned since the earthquake and she has now become their primary caretaker.  Here are a few photos for the most empowered young women I have seen in Haiti thus far:

jeunes filles en action...

they got a big tent donated, which is where many of them sleep until the renovations on their temporary home is being finished. They are still trying to raise all of the funds for 6 months of rent, which must be paid upfront...

this little boy was being abused and a few doctors were going to take him to an orphanage but didnt know where...I asked Nadine to assess the situation and she went to speak with him and from there decided he could not go back to where he was staying. Ever since he has been smiling, talking and participating...I plan on visiting his residence with her and hopefully reunite him with any existing family...

Religious Relief

First let me say this: by no means am I criticizing religion.  What I am doing here is opening up a dialog about assistance and religious disaster relief.  There are some religious organizations here that are holding recruitment seminars while providing aid.  There are some religious organizations that are creating barriers between communities by only serving their parishioners- even if that means isolating them from their community.  No matter what relief efforts we are providing, I think (stressing the “i think”) that we have to be responsible and consider what may happen when the aid is gone, and what changes we may leave behind.  That should be the guiding thought behind our actions so that we can truly empower and assist communities.  While taking a walk in Carrefour Feuilles’- Terre Blanche we saw a really well built temporary shelter home.  We began to think that whomever built this house may be someone we should speak with and so we decided to ask who lives there and how were they able to build such a great structure in the midst of a rubble area?  It turns out that the woman who lives in the house had been a parishioner at a Mormon church and along with others who attended the church, had sought safety in the outdoor space there.  When the Mormon church came with their relief efforts they built temporary homes for their parishioners.  The problem with this, specifically this shelter, is that this woman is no longer a participant of her community.  She has been isolated since and hasn’t been seen much.  She has a great home, but at what cost?  What are the changes that are now left behind?

Just a thought…

this is the window and the rainproof shelter...

the view of the entire home, well mounted to avoid flooding...

another view...

and this is what the surrounding area looks like. many camps and people still sleeping on the floor here...

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Lili permalink
    March 25, 2010 9:36 am

    How do we send supplies to Haiti? I want to ship tents but I’m not sure where to send them to or if dhl/Fedex are shipping to PAP/surrounding area yet. Thank you.

    • March 27, 2010 12:31 pm

      I’m working on it…its not so easy to get supplies here and for folks to actually receive them. I will write back with more detail to share with readers on how to send stuff securely.

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