The nation of Haiti has a long history of development challenges dating back to the days it was a slave colony of France. Since its revolution and independence in 1804 from colonial oppression, Haiti has struggled to move forward (environmentally, educationally, economically, socially, and politically). Despite the many challenges faced by the Haitian people there is a remarkable beauty and resiliency.
Reclaimit’s strategic development partner, Empower Global Inc., became involved in Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010. The Strategic Plan was to “empower” Haitians to lift themselves out of poverty. That is, providing a helping “hand-up”, and not just another “hand-out”. To this end, Empower purchased and developed an abandoned property as a base of operations to provide both Healthcare & Skills Training. The goal – Training & Mentoring for the purpose of small business formation and economic self sustainability.
Become Part of the Solution
In 2015 a Reclaimit environmental consultant became involved with Empower’s Healthcare training program. This was and is a training initiative to equip volunteer Community Health Workers to provide basic healthcare training in their own communities. The overall goal is “Self Care” in health-related matters as over 80% of the population have no access to professional health services. Healthcare training materials are sourced from the Hesperian Group (Hesperian.org), a large global organisation that produces and distributes (in the local language) a wide range of health training materials including: Emergency First Aid; Where there is no Doctor; Where there is no Dentist; Where there is Doctor for Women, etc.
In March 2017, Reclaimit was invited to provide the leadership necessary to begin food production on the Empower property by creating a vegetable garden, the project included the production and use of compost as fertilizer. Local Haitians were taught and mentored in gardening methods in March 2017 and the Reclaimit consultant returned in October that year to monitor the results.
Learning from Mixed Results
Reclaimit consultants advise customers that sustainable success requires all partners to be equally committed, from the conception of an idea to final product delivery. The following are some project highlights.
- Local workers were hard working and dedicated during set up.
- The garden produced some crop that was harvested and consumed.
- A project debrief was held with the gardening crew, allowing for an open dialogue about successes and failures so that everyone could learn from the experience.
- The consultant gained an expansion of knowledge about working in a cross-cultural context that is widely applicable.
- Free goods and services are tough to compete with. Another agency came to the region at the time of the garden’s development and was providing free garden seed and food to people in the area. The expense-free alternatives challenged ongoing participation in the project.
- More frequent monitoring of project progress by an onsite leader throughout sowing, tending and harvesting would increase yield, reduce waste and improve communication and ownership by participants.
- As is normal for development initiatives, nothing happens overnight, and participants need to be committed for the long-term to gain sustainable successes.
Reclaimit Ltd. remains strategically partnered with Empower Global Inc. and its international development initiatives.
Empower’s strategic objectives remain unchanged – providing a hand-up, not a hand-out. This is combined with a passion to maximize project outcomes with minimal overhead costs. Empower is also committed to building long term strategic relationships with key in-country partners. This “participatory approach” helps to ensure the long-term success of Empower’s community development projects.
Empower Global’s work in Haiti continues to grow, with 1000’s of people being impacted each year in significant ways. Reclaimit Ltd. is pleased to continue its support of Empower’s initiatives in Haiti.