Haiti trip Spring 2018 – faces and inspiration

Posted on Apr 3, 2018

APRIL 8th 2018

This is Madame Cleguy. She lives in Bas Pinal Haiti. To make her living as a broom maker, she walks twelve hours to where a plant called lantanier grows, collects as much as she can carry on her head, and then walks twelve hours back to make brooms with the plant leaves. (Lantanier is seen here drying on the ground behind her in this photo).

She can usually only carry six brooms worth of lantanier which when complete she will sell at market for a profit of 88 cents each (less than six dollars total). Almost every woman in Bas Pinal makes their living this way. And they have, for over eighty years.

Check out the work our friend Brenda Reed Cooper at Haitihelpers is doing to make the broom making process more efficient and profitable for these women.

www.haitihelpers.org

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APRIL 8th 2018

Madame Papo, Bas Pinal, Haiti

It is always important to remember the constant beauty experienced in Haiti along with the struggles.

This is Madame Papo. She lives in Bas Pinal, a small community a few kilometers from the center of Ranquitte. One Hundred For Haiti put a roof on her house last year.

I met her yesterday for the first time. I asked what she thought of her new roof. “Trè kontant”. Very happy.

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APRIL 7th 2018

Little boy and broken bike, Haiti 2018 www.onehundredforhaiti.org (photo by Greg Bennick, all rights reserved)

In Haiti I see things every hour which are difficult to process. Actually more like every few seconds. After awhile I start to get used to it. It’s a coping mechanism in order to stay focused.

And then I see something that just stops me cold and the whole world freezes in time.

Like this little boy I met a few minutes ago, out in the street, just playing with his bike. 💔

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APRIL 6th 2018

This is Mr. Timamoun. He lives near Ranquitte Haiti. One Hundred For Haiti put a new roof on his home last year. Today I met with him here and he told me through a translator, “Now when it rains I don’t need to sleep standing up in the corner.”

He and his family were drying some cassava in the sun. He asked to give me some to eat along with some tomatoes. I tried to say no but he insisted as a thank you for the roof.

I had them for dinner tonight. Every bite was gratitude all around, for and from everyone involved ❤️ www.onehundredforhaiti.org

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APRIL 6th 2018

On the left is Faustin and on the right is his friend Frantz. They are eighteen and live here in Ranquitte Haiti.

Faustin told me, “When I am hungry I call my friend and we talk and tell stories. And then I am not hungry anymore.”

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APRIL 6th 2018

Kids today at the feeding program in Ranquitte which Fresnel Desauguste started with money from his own pocket. We now support that feeding program, calling it Healthy Kids, Healthy Future. Forty kids per day come to eat what might be their only meal of the day. Today after the kids ate, we worked on funny faces.

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APRIL 6th 2018

Leon Joseph in Bas Pinal Haiti

Leon Joseph in Bas Pinal Haiti

This is Mr. Leon Joseph. He lives in a very rural area called Bas Pinal, Haiti in a thatched roof house constructed with mud walls about the size of a kitchen table. I met him today and he is one of the most photogenic humans in history. With your help we will build him a real roof this year. The problem with thatched roofs is two fold (amongst other things). During the rain, leaks make sleeping basically impossible. No one should ever have to endure sleeplessness. In addition, the roof can easily be infested with bugs, some of which carry disease. A new roof will change all of that.

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APRIL 5th 2018

Little girl in Ranquitte Haiti pumping water

Little girl in Ranquitte Haiti pumping water

A little girl pumps water for her family in Ranquitte Haiti. There are two more pumps like this one in the center of town which we hope to repair this year in conjunction with the local Mayor, Edelin Phillipe. We’ve often focused on rural people over the last few years but the Mayor raised the very good point that because the condition of water pumps in town is bad, residents of the town often have to walk to rural sites for water which taxes the already sparse supply there and makes life even more difficult for rural people. We hope to shift that balance and ease stresses.

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APRIL 4th 2018

http://www.onehundredforhaiti.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/IMG_6025.png

Water flows thanks to donations to One Hundred For Haiti

This is why we do what we do. Clean water flows from a new tank at Benefice, near Ranquitte Haiti. The mayor of this area and I met today. We have big ideas for access to safe cholera-free water in this region. All of this paid for by donations to One Hundred For Haiti ❤️ He has some water sites he would like to focus upon for 2018 and we have a list of the forty sites we’ve been managing and maintaining (and building) for the last few years. Only possible with your help. Consider becoming a monthly recurring donor. It goes so far over time.

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APRIL 3rd 2018

Port au Prince, Haiti (4/2/2018)

This week has been a lesson in adaptability. I’m in Haiti (its Greg writing you tonight) where very little ever goes as planned.

I’m here at the promise of an international group who shall remain unnamed who evidently connect pairs of global cities together in partnerships to develop both cities culturally and economically. I’d received a personal invite two weeks ago to be a part of a diplomatic team who were going to travel the north for five days. This was billed as a trip which would allow heads of NGO’s and select government officials to meet and travel and spend close time together while discussing matters of job creation, micro loans, and development throughout Haiti.

The list supposedly attending was amazing. Members of President Juvenal Moïse’s cabinet, people from the southern command (who can facilitate movement of huge construction machinery from the USA to Haiti), members of immense NGO’s, and many others. I had to say yes. Because bureaucracy can be as much of a facilitator to progress as it can be an inhibitor, and because even the best meetings wouldn’t result in immediate direct change, I doubled the length of the trip to include time later this week in the rural area of Ranquitte where we do a large amount of work so that I could be amongst the people. I am glad I did.

The meetings were a bust. One took place. Evidently the organizers either didn’t coordinate the event, never were involved, or just didn’t know how to make an event of this magnitude happen. On the first night, members of the President’s cabinet showed up and we (the cabinet, about five NGO’s, some private investors and others) sat around a table. There was no structure and the event started an hour late. We each introduced ourselves for a moment then the group heard a for-profit pitch by a private business for over an hour. Then the Haitians present argued in Kreyol and French for an hour about an internal Haitian issue involving a shipping container of some kind. All in all it was largely a waste of time.

The next morning, having realized that the event was a bust and to salvage the experience, I met with some of the people from the night before and made some good connections which can result in real change for some specific communities I know here, then left in order to forge my own proverbial way. Brenda Cooper from Haiti Helpers (another small NGO who work in the same area in the north as One Hundred For Haiti) and I went with Fresnel Desauguste (in-country director for both of our organizations) to stay for three days in Port au Prince at a friends’ private residence. This friend and his family introduced us to more people in the first two hours than the supposed government meetings did in 24 hours. Its actually turned out to have been an amazing few days and will potentially have wide ranging success for One Hundred For Haiti moving forward.

Tomorrow, Brenda flies home and Fresnel and I head to Ranquitte to do hands-on work for five and a half more days. Can’t wait. The people who live in Ranquitte are who we work for, and listen to and be with them will be more important than any meeting could have possibly been. Adapting to change and helping others to do the same.

Photo above: Port au Prince haiti tonight, taken from a Mavic Pro drone.
Photo below: L to R, Fresnel Desauguste, Jacques Denis (who’s medical endeavors immediately after the earthquake were the reason One Hundred For Haiti formed the way it did), yours truly, Joelle Denis (Pediatric doctor and long time advisor and friend!)

Updates to follow!

What Matters

Posted on Feb 2, 2018

Late at night, sitting up in Canada, thinking about what matters, what doesn’t, where to put energy, and where not to.

I just got this photo sent to me from one of the villages we support in Haiti.

This is a roof you paid for this year so that a family can sleep safely. In the Ranquitte region, a thatched roof means not only rain falling in and soaking families in the night (families will often crowd into corners or sleep sitting up to avoid getting soaked by leaks).

It also means the threat of bugs falling from the thatch onto the faces of sleeping people and biting them around their mouths. Known as “kissing bugs” the Chagas disease that they transmit can be deadly.

Putting a metal roof on a house changes everything for a family in Haiti. Here’s to one more family who will sleep at night in a house safer from disease and the rain.

That matters.

(from Greg Bennick, Executive Director)

2018 Seattle Activism Team meetings

Posted on Jan 29, 2018

One Hundred for Haiti kicked off its 2018 Seattle Activism Team in Seattle. If you ever wanted to contribute to a non-profit before and want to be involved in change for others, please join us for our upcoming meetings and see the many ways anyone can contribute.

At the first meeting a group of new people started with hearing a 2017 recap and then brainstormed ideas for 2018. It was hosted at Sea-Town Real Estate offices in West Seattle, and will continue to be in regular meeting times on the last Wednesday of each month. There will always be snacks!

Look for a Facebook group / event page about these meetings for next time.

This meeting was…
January 31st 2018 from 7:00PM – 8:30PM

The next is
February 28th 2018 from 7:00PM – 8:30PM

Sea-Town Real Estate
2701 California Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116

On the anniversary of the earthquake: moving forward

Posted on Jan 12, 2018

Last year, Nathan Bean and Greg Bennick spent over a week in Haiti meeting people, talking to them, connecting, and hearing about their lives. We saw just how beautiful the country is and how vibrant. It was an incredible reminder once again about why we work there and support the people. And why we love it so much.

Once on a outreach trip, a hike for almost half a day led to meeting some wonderful Haitians in a remote village. Their water supply had been affected by the cholera outbreak in previous years and One Hundred For Haiti helped them build this clean water tank. Around this new communal space, we gathered and became friends beyond language barriers and cultural gaps. We connected because we all understood each other the other beyond words and borders.

Haitian faces often tell a story of survival and resilience. They are also faces of happiness, connection, and hope. These are people who want their children to thrive, their homes secure, and their lives to be full and rich. These are people who are us, and we are them. To think of them as anything less is to be less human ourselves.

Many of the people attached to these faces are cash poor. Generations of foreign oppression carry heavy consequences. From slavery to trade embargos to political meddling to best intentioned NGOs, Haitians have struggled to determine their own destiny. Through it all, their humanity has remained rich and very real. We believe that people are defined by far more than borders and validated by more than their material wealth.

One Hundred For Haiti stands with Haitians today in the midst of Donald Trump’s call for racial purity masked as a statement of superiority, dominance, and exclusion. Haiti has weathered worse storms than Donald Trump and her citizens are more than capable of enduring racist insults. It is incumbent upon us non-Haitians to stand up against these vile words and against reprehensible policy that targets Haitians and others around the world.

Let’s be clear, Haiti wins in the end and we will help make that happen.

For the Haitians we have walked alongside, for the faces that tell stories, for the beauty around every corner, for the brutal past, durable present, and the audacious future of a small Caribbean Republic, today from Seattle, we stand with Haiti.

#StandWithHaiti

2017 End of Year Accomplishments

Posted on Dec 31, 2017

As the last hours of 2017 tick away, we wanted to celebrate the accomplishments that your support made possible throughout the year. We had our most successful and active year by far and have so many things to share about the last twelve months, and some on the next twelve to come.

We started the year strong, having come off a solid relief effort for Hurricane Irma and the damage it caused. Our friends in the band HIMSA gave us a solid boost with a donation from their reunion show and let us put roofs back on houses which we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. The involvement of bands from the hardcore/punk/metal scene didn’t stop there however, as HOLLOW EARTH put up a One Hundred For Haiti banner and put out information and stickers and a donation canister on every night of their US/CANADA tour and raised enough money to fund TWO water cisterns in rural Haiti to help local people access safe drinking water through our Rural Water Project. Having bands support us is incredibly helpful. It helps get the word out, and it does so in a way which is fun and directly impactful.

If you have a band and would like an easy to use kit which contains a banner (which can be customized with your bands logo), stickers, printed info, and pins along with a donation canister, just write us anytime through our contact page and we will set you up to collect donations at your shows and when you send it to us and we put it to use, we will have photographic evidence for you of what was done with your money, much like this photo of one of the tanks Hollow Earth provided to the people of rural Haiti.
Just last week, WAKE OF HUMANITY donated $400 from the sale of customized shirts they’ve been selling in partnership with us. The shirts have their logo and ours and slogans about earth and human liberation.

Also helpful this year was the effort of TERRENCE LEBEAU who worked in conjunction with our friends and OVERCAST DESIGN AND PRINT in Long Beach CA to create a limited run series of shirts for sale from long-gone designs in the hardcore/punk scene. Bands who participated in 2017 were THE SWARM, GRIMLOCK, xCLEARx, BROTHERS KEEPER, STRONGARM, STRAIN, AFTERSHOCK, FALL SILENT, RACETRAITOR, and EARTH CRISIS. We are so thankful to each and every one of those bands and to Terrence for stepping up and making a difference.

In a completely different but incredible fundraising effort, retired Seattle municipal worker GWEN WHIPPLE finished a multi-year project as a seamstress and tailor to make and sell ONE HUNDRED purses for Haiti under the name PURSES FOR HAITI. She raised $4000 in what was basically the largest single donation from an individual in the history of One Hundred For Haiti. Check out her work at the PURSES FOR HAITI website.

In terms of our main projects, GTPE and THE RURAL WATER PROJECT, 2017 was incredible. Thanks to having just partnered with LUSH who took us on under their program where funds from the sales of LUSH products are distributed to non profit organizations doing work on environmental, human rights, and animal related issues, we were able to vastly expand GTPE and RURAL WATER PROJECT support. We also added support for a local feeding program to provide daily meals to schoolchildren in the Ranquitte region.

GTPE:
We want to help change the social structure of Haiti in terms of rape, abuse, and violence against women and children. We were hoping to be able to fund our GTPE partners (social service organizations, outreach workers, and our friends LITTLE FOOTPRINTS, BIG STEPS) for nine community education trainings this year to teach community members about proper conduct, supporting victims, and how to make change at home and locally in terms of how men treat women. But thanks to saving money in unexpected places we were able to provide funding for anti-sexual assault trainings in SEVENTEEN communities. In the first ten trainings alone our partners reached, directly interacted with, and trained 7,398 students and 1,002 community leaders and adults in better conduct, sexual assault dynamics, how to support victims, and ways to prevent violence.

To spread the word about these trainings and the ideas in them (ideas which are new to many people in Haiti, especially the men) we reached thousands of people by playing campaign messages on a sound truck in Ducis Market. This is one of the largest local markets in the region. Community members from many rural communities come to the market place to share ideas and buy and sell provisions. Morgan Weinberg of Little Footprints, Big Steps reported, “Many people in the market place came to stand near the sound truck & asked for flyers regarding sexual assault. They were incredibly engaged, asking questions & presenting cases / commentary to the GTPE agents!”

A partial script which was shouted over the sound truck repeatedly throughout the market time reads as follows (translated from the Haitian Creole):

“There’s been too much violence against both children and women,”
“How do you feel, you as young men…you have your girlfriend, or you have your wife, and then you see that you’re raising your hand on this person.”
“How do you feel? Where did you come from, you as a young man? Wasn’t it from the stomach of a woman?”
“Wasn’t it a woman who raised you? Wasn’t it a woman who breastfed you so that you could become what you are today?”
“And now… you’re beating women? What’s even worse is that after you’ve beaten her in the morning, in the evening you’ll lie down right beside her.”
“It’s time for us to stop violence against women.”
“When you are violent against women, it’s bad for the children in your home. When you are violent, the children will copy you. Children will do the exact same thing.”
“Rape doesn’t have a role in society! We need to make declarations against rapists! We need to denounce them! It’s time for this to end!”

In addition, in every community where trainings took place, follow up protection committees were initiated and created by local people after our trainers left, so that the people themselves ON THEIR OWN INITIATIVE would continue the work of teaching respect, victim support and reporting, and violence-free social dynamics. This work will continue actively in 2018.

HEALTHY KIDS, HEALTHY FUTURE:
This was a project which was entirely Haitian-initiated. While in Haiti last year, we learned firsthand that our in-country coordinator in Haiti was personally funding a feeding program out of his pocket for 15 children in his rural community, feeding them twice a week so they wouldn’t have to go to school hungry. Thanks to your donations throughout they year, ESPECIALLY the recurring monthly donations, we were able to support our friend to help him expand his feeding program. This feeding program now provides meals to fifty children five times a week. Haitian kids who are not going hungry means kids who will be able to focus in school, and in turn kids who will bring their education into the future.  Without donor support, these kids wouldn’t have had the chance to eat on a daily basis or to drink safe water. These children are indeed the future of Haiti.

RURAL WATER PROJECT:
In 2017 we paid for the building and maintenance of clean water facilities in SIXTEEN communities. These are locations which are often impossible to get to by car, and which cannot rely on any sort of municipal water system. There continue to be ZERO cholera deaths in the region since the start of the Rural Water Project. We also paid for water access in FIFTEEN additional communities. This aspect of our work is just underway and we will have photos for next year’s end of year report. We plan to build at least nine more water cisterns in 2018 and likely many more. Photos of the 2017 tanks follow at the end of this report.

OVERALL:
This was our strongest and most successful year by far. It was made possible through the generosity and consistent support of people like you, and that includes the people of LUSH who were incredible to work with.

By signing up for a recurring monthly donation, you add your support to an ongoing list of people who help us do what we do. It is incredibly helpful no matter what the level of donation you choose.

Our goal is to stay committed, even when other global disasters take focus and attention away from Haiti. It would always be easy to change quickly to the next disaster which comes along, somewhere else in the world. We’ll let others help in those areas. We are focused on the friends and people we serve in Haiti and we will continue to be, long after Haiti is out of the headlines. We promised people that we would be there for the long term, until sustainability from within causes us to not have a need to exist there anymore. That is the ultimate goal: to help create the conditions under which we are no longer needed.

Thank you for supporting us. We have more work to do with the RURAL WATER PROJECT, with GTPE, with the HEALTHY KIDS, HEALTHY FUTURE initiative, and ultimately working with Haitians to make all of these projects sustainable from within the country. We are in this for the empowerment and development of the people we serve in Haiti, not for our own glory.

This entire update is for you, in honor of them.

Greg Bennick
Executive Director, One Hundred For Haiti
Seattle WA
12/31/2017

SEVEN more anti-violence trainings funded

Posted on Nov 22, 2017

Because of your generosity, One Hundred For Haiti just wired enough money to Haiti to fund anti-sexual assault trainings in SEVEN rural communities. These trainings are geared towards people who have no previous understanding or training whatsoever about alternatives to sexual violence and child abuse. In the trainings, attendees discover approaches to better behavior, learn to define violence and assault, and brainstorm ways that individuals and communities can work together to create a new reality with less oppression, with a large focus on the treatment of women and children.

There has never been a consolidated anti-rape or anti-sexual assault initiative in the south of Haiti before. Our partners in GTPE, Little Footprints, Big Steps, and a dozen other social service agencies came together with a goal to change that. One Hundred For Haiti funds the entire initiative, paying for an ongoing series of trainings across the south of the country. This is made possible because of your recurring monthly donations.

Photos below show a training last week in the rural community of Tiburon. In each community, inspired local citizens have come forward to form action groups to do ongoing work with their neighbors so that action and discussion about how to change dynamics of violence/abuse/respect in the community can continue long beyond the training date.

In a world where every headline is about assault and abuse over the last few weeks, these trainings are not only necessary and essential. They are a clear step towards a better world.

The USA vs Haitians: Politics Over People

Posted on Nov 21, 2017

The priorities of the age we live in, especially in terms of race and immigration, are becoming more and more apparent in the USA. The seeds of anti-immigrant sentiment planted during the campaign in 2016 have grown into fully developed rage.

The Department of Homeland Security has announced an end to a humanitarian program which gave a protected temporary resident status to 59,000 Haitians living in the USA since the 2010 earthquake. The Haitians are a portion of 320,000 people currently benefiting from the Temporary Protected Status program (U.S. Code § 1254a) (referred to for the remainder of this editorial as “TPS”), a program which was put into place in 1990 under President Bush as a means of offering protected status to foreign nationals who could not return to their countries due to ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or “other extraordinary and temporary conditions”.

The rescinding of TPS is entirely legal, but that doesn’t mean its ethical.

The program’s exact wording is lengthy but the most pertinent section is as follows. At One Hundred For Haiti we are paying close attention to the end of Section (A), the basic idea behind Section (B), and the end of Section (C). After the following citation we will add comments and some clarity. The law says that the Attorney General may designate any foreign state to be under the guidelines of TPS if:

“(A) the Attorney General finds that there is an ongoing armed conflict within the state and, due to such conflict, requiring the return of aliens who are nationals of that state to that state (or to the part of the state) would pose a serious threat to their personal safety;

(B) the Attorney General finds that—
(i) there has been an earthquake, flood, drought, epidemic, or other environmental disaster in the state resulting in a substantial, but temporary, disruption of living conditions in the area affected,
(ii) the foreign state is unable, temporarily, to handle adequately the return to the state of aliens who are nationals of the state, and
(iii) the foreign state officially has requested designation under this subparagraph; or

(C) the Attorney General finds that there exist extraordinary and temporary conditions in the foreign state that prevent aliens who are nationals of the state from returning to the state in safety, unless the Attorney General finds that permitting the aliens to remain temporarily in the United States is contrary to the national interest of the United States.”

The TPS goes on to say that the status can last for up to eighteen months. As we stated earlier, rescinding it is legal. However we are most concerned with the idea that Haiti as a neighbor and country is still struggling to get on its feet not just after the seven years since the quake, but after over two hundred years of racist and anti-Haitian policy. It is not easily forgotten that in 1820, Senator Robert Hayne from South Carolina said, “Our policy with regard to Haiti is plain. We never can acknowledge her independence.” The threat of free slaves was simply too impossible to imagine for a country which profited wildly from racism and injustice against people of color, both financially and in terms of rallying public support behind American ideals. Racism has defined US foreign policy for two hundred years.

Today, Haitians in Haiti rely heavily on the money sent home from their family members in the USA. To be exact, the number is just under 30% (29.4%) of Haiti’s entire gross domestic product according to the World Bank figures for 2016. One Hundred For Haiti actively worked on behalf of, and directly with, such relatives early on in our organization and have seen the effects of this intra-family aid firsthand. To push these people out of the country not only does nothing for the USA, but it works actively against the people of Haiti.

We have a government desperate for any sort of legislative victory. They have targeted Haitians for eventual deportation as a means of coming across as tough on immigration. This choice fits right in line with proposed policies ranging from the wall against Mexico, the administrations position on DACA, and the Muslim immigration ban.

In terms of Section (A) above, One Hundred For Haiti board member Nathan Bean put it clearly when he said recently, “The idea that Haiti could absorb 50k people returning is complete bullshit. Ripping families apart and implementing half baked policy is an area of expertise for this morally corrupt administration.” The safety of all are affected when social conditions cannot support the population at hand. This is the case certainly in many parts of Port-au-Prince where these tens of thousands of deported Haitians would likely land upon their return.

In terms of Section (B), the cholera epidemic from 2010 to 2013, the crushing devastation of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and the effects of Hurricane Irma in 2017, have been punishing blows to a country which is still struggling with corruption and socio-economic issues that prevent rapid development. To say that living conditions have been disrupted is an understatement.

In terms of Section (C), it is clear that making a political statement about an assumed threat from within our borders by deporting people is in “the national interest of the United States”. Of all the victories the administration could try and claim on behalf of the USA, this seems to be the most low hanging of all possible fruit.

While we don’t want to paint a portrait of Haitians as helpless, or unable to manage their own destiny, we do want to be clear that Haiti is still a country in development and deserving of support. To actively work against the development of Haiti is against the mission statement of One Hundred For Haiti and as a result we stand against the United States’ decision to reverse the Temporary Protected Status program.

These are most definitely troubled times.

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For additional reading on anti-immigration policy in the USA, see: THIS ARTICLE in the Washington Post.

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