100% Percent for Haiti

Welcome to the 100% for Haiti blog. Here you will find the latest updates on our activities in Haiti and much more. This blog is intended as a discussion forum on the work of small NGOs in Haiti. So please feel free to join the discussion by posting comments or sending articles to the moderator that you would like to have published.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Replace Charcoal with Methane!

Haiti - Environment: Replace charcoal with methane ...
17/04/2011 12:40:02

In a country where the population almost exclusively cooks using charcoal, and where massive deforestation due to the use of traditional fuel in 98% of the territory is a challenge, the production and combustion of methane could replace this entirely.

The idea is not new and has already been proven in China and Central America but is just beginning to be developed in Haiti: to produce methane gas for cooking, by recycling human excrement. Called a "digester", this invention requires little infrastructure: toilets, dry or not, connected to a shaft made of bricks, itself connected to a pool. Without air, 85% of bacteria contained in human waste decompose naturally, producing methane gas, says Martin Wartchow, a hydrologist who works for the Brazilian NGO Viva Rio "The remaining 15% of organic waste is discharged with water in an area where there is vegetation [...] even this degraded water then becomes totally clean  [...] We just raise fish in it, " says the hydrologist.

"The UN has paid for many studies to find alternatives to charcoal, benefiting countries such as Nicaragua or China," commented Martin Wartchow, an ironic reminder that "70,000  biodigesters have been constructed in Central America ... and a thousand times more in China! "

In Haiti, only 70 biodigesters were built by Viva Rio and many projects are underway. But once built, all is not won, as illustrated by the camp Santos 17, a suburb of Port-au-Prince where biodigesters were installed in February alongside the new transitional shelters. A displaced woman points to a methane stove installed in her shelter, but admits to not fully understand the usefulness of the "thing" even as she said "I cook with charcoal ..."

For this project a success in Haiti will require much more than methane, it will simultaneously need to educate and to raise awareness to respect the environment, in abandoning the traditional charcoal in favor of a gas that is cheap and inexhaustible.

IP / HaïtiLibre

Friday, April 8, 2011

Discussion topic: Is the restavek system in Haiti slavery?

The question here is if this unregulated system leads to slavery. Clearly there are many children being cared for in Haiti in a compassionate manor by this system. Yet, there are children being abused and enslaved by the same system. Is the restavek system slavery? No. Can it lead to the enslavement of children? Yes.

We are left with how to honor a cultural tradition and protect the rights of children. At 100% for Haiti we believe that these answers lie in education and empowerment of communities. Please feel free to join us on our blog for a discussion of this issue.

Ideas and discussion on how to address this issue?

Please read article at


100% For Haiti, Our History and Future!

I'd made four previous trips to Haiti in various capacities working for Haitian relief organizations, when I went back seven months after the earthquake, in August last year. It was the worst time to be there, the hottest part of the summer, dusty, filthy, and malarial - and I'd never planned to visit the area of the quake epicenter since I was already involved in some projects up in the Central Plateau. Port au Prince was still full of rubble and political rumbling, the white 4x4 vehicles of foreign aid and the UN everywhere, but doing what?
I had collected some money with a group of friends and artists living in the tiny Virgin Islands, 500 miles to the west, but we'd already committed it to some good locally run projects in other parts of Haiti, helping refugees from the city. This group, 100% for Haiti, started as an artists' club donating paintings for sale to help Haiti after the quake. I had opinions and ideas, but no resources to start a new project no matter what the need.

A good friend took me to see a school he'd been telling me about for months - run by the daughter of the original builder, it had been totally destroyed in the quake, along with the family's house. Yollande and her family and the teachers, all from that village, had carried on running the school under a tarpaulin on poles, while living in tents on the site. The school had no church affiliation, no government funding, and no outside backing, but in a poor road-side community, hardly even a village, it had run for 9 years educating between 150 and 180 children from pre-K to 6th grade, at a cost of around $26 US per year per child, though the parents struggle to pay that much. Haiti lacks school facilities for 1/3 of all children, especially in rural areas. Over the years, the 12 staff of this school, called IMECT, at Morne Tapion near Petit Gouave, have often gone unpaid, subsisting on the sporadically government-provided rice and beans that make the children’s school lunch.
I decided there had to be something I could do - even though I couldn't make any promises, and had no more than $2500 in our non-profit's bank account.

So then and there, I met with the builder, my friend the civil engineer who has run similar projects, and the teachers and parents, to propose a temporary plywood and tin 6 room school – built mainly with community labor, and locally sourced building materials. It was erected in a week, between the rains, in October 2010 – for the astonishingly small sum of $7500, which I was lucky enough to find from a private donor. That's $45 per child – for a school better than many in the country, that will last several years, probably more – while we aim to fund the reconstruction of a permanent school class by class, without the loss of years of these children’s education. The school also provides adult and teen classes, acts as a community center, and is used by local organizations, for ceremonies, weddings, meetings - plus it will act as a shelter in event of another large-scale quake. Being a temporary structure without concrete except for the floor is actually an advantage in today's Haiti - where most people are too terrified to enter concrete buildings that may trap and kill them in another quake.
I just made my second visit (Feb/Mar 2011), much delayed by the elections in Haiti, and the slow economy in the rest of the Caribbean (meaning a shortage of my own travel funds), to see what had been achieved, plan the beginning of the first permanent classroom to be rebuilt, and help paint and decorate the school. So imagine how it felt, to see the children, 168 of them aged 3 to 18, under a sound new roof, in their smart gingham uniforms, avidly absorbing the lessons.

We’re now funding teacher and support staff salaries, school lunches, first aid, and building latrines, a water tank and hand washing facilities, and leveling the ruins to start building. We are beginning many other small initiatives, providing extra curricula activities, and equipment, to make sure these kids stay in school, at least through 6th grade. (And later we hope that all those capable of continuing education can go on to secondary school nearby with a new uniform, fees paid and a scholarship towards books and transport. Each $100 in extra scholarship support will make this possible for another 2 graduates from IMECT).

This means by supporting a local community leader, local employees and local construction workers, to do what they know how to do already, we can provide primary education in an area that would otherwise now have none, for $60 per child per year, and rebuild their permanent school for another $60 per child.

It's in the nature of primary schools, like orphanages, and homes for the handicapped, that they may well never become self-funding. But what they add to the society where they are built, in educating, equalizing, bringing peace and possibilities to the population, is immeasurable. We haven't had corporate or government money, this is still a micro-project, but readily replicable all over the place - so long as it is kept local, doesn't impose foreign staff, require foreign materials to build, needs not host outside staff or volunteers who require a First World standard of living - all of which would detract from paying as many local salaries as possible, keeping as many children in school at as low a cost as possible, and disrupting the community only minimally.

What it does need is the honesty of all involved, and transparency in operation to the greatest degree possible - and this is tricky, with at least 3 languages in use, three or four currencies, huge lags in communication caused by rare internet access, dollar-a-minute phone calls on terrible lines, criminal banking fees imposed on the Third World for transfers and transactions, virtually no postal service, not to mention Haiti's notorious "Customs Service" making deliveries of donated overseas equipment almost impossible. It depends enormously on finding the right people, and letting them have the freedom to run the project they were already running until the earthquake; with the benefit of some assurance that funds are available, even though in this case, it's no more than one year at a time, to rebuild - and pay salaries and expenses while they do that.

Nobody is going to profit unduly from this. Nobody will become famous. But each year a small community will gradually become more and more literate, more aware of the world they have to live in, more able to cope - and at a miniscule cost. At the same time, we're addressing some of the pressing issues - Haiti's problems of domestic violence, low status of women and children, out of control consumerism, manipulation by religious groups, cultural impoverishment, degradation of the environment, cruelty to animals… the list could go on and on! It's my hope that we are not by so doing, also exporting all the worst problems of our own societies - we in the West have made all the mistakes in the book, can we allow others to profit from our mistakes, by avoiding them?
Mandy Thody, 5 April 2011

Mandy Thody is the Founder and Committee Director of 100% for Haiti

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Skewed Aid in Haiti

You can view the original of this article at: http://mathaba.net/news/?x=625846

By Ray Shader

For awhile I have been upset with the way a lot of larger organizations work here in Haiti. While talking to a friend the other day he mentioned that it’s wrong how the people here feel that they are owed something and that they are under the misunderstanding that the money being pumped into the various organizations is theirs. The west does owe them and the money that is being donated is more theirs than it is the employees of the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO)’s, the non-needy benefactors and the west’s industrial complex. But a great portion of the funds go to these entities and precious little is making it to the people that need it.

I wrote above that the west does owe them. The west has been a serious detriment to Haiti’s ability to live from agriculture (Google: “Creole pig” and “failed subsidized rice for Haiti program”), has worked to bring down a leader that was a great hope for this country and it has helped increase the poverty and debt in Haiti through its demands and manipulative loan practices. It has actively supported dictators and military regimes here that have been responsible for the destruction of civil liberties, much suffering, tens of thousands of deaths and the wholesale siphoning of money out of the country. I am not a fool though, the chances that Haiti will be repaid for the suffering they have experienced under the west’s policies are the same as black Americans chances of receiving reparation for the years their ancestors lived in slavery, nil.

I do understand a part of what my friend was saying. The Haitians are seeing themselves as victims and my experience with people who settle into being victims is that they either wait for someone else to take care of things or they lose heart and stop trying to do what they can. This puts foreigner relief workers in a difficult place. How do you tell them it’s up to them to do this for themselves and not marginalize the fact that they have been victimized?

There are the resources here now for the sheet metal to brought to Haiti and then formed into the studs and track being used in the construction of shelters and semi-permanent structures. Haitians would have jobs, some industry would start here and it would cost less. After the need for the building materials eases Haiti would be in a place where they could start stamping washing machine bodies for Maytag or manufacturing steel cabinets for Home Depot. Instead the contracts go to American steel firms who bid it so low it would seem that it was a better price. When it gets here the work is often shoddy and there are constant delays in the arrival of materials. When you add up the cost of waste and delays the price has gone exceedingly high. The steel industry answers with, “You get what you pay for.”

In the meantime the rich have their contracts and the Haitians have received the big dump off once again. I say dump off because there Haiti is becoming a dump site. In America we hear about the containers of clothes that are coming here and the resources and materials but no one hears about the containers of old and soiled underwear and socks that are sent or the container of breast implants, probably deemed dangerous to use in the U.S. and difficult to dispose of, that sits in Port-au-Prince.

In the new western invasion the NGOs are the new overseers. They have lost sight of one very important thing; they are stewards of resources, not the owners. Many wonderful donors have seen a need here and stepped up to provide funds and resources to help the Haitians. NGOs read this carefully, “IT IS NOT YOUR MONEY. THOSE ARE NOT YOUR RESOURCES. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING THEM INTO SOMETHING THAT HELPS THIS COUNTRY IN NEED. YOU ARE HERE TO SERVE THE PEOPLE OF HAITI AND THE DONORS. YOU ARE ACCOUNTABLE ON BOTH SIDES. INSTEAD YOU HAVE THROWN OFF THE MANTLE OF SERVANT AND TAKEN ON THE ROLE OF MASTER. YOU MAKE EVERYONE RESPONSIBLE EXCEPT FOR YOURSELVES.”

Is everyone doing it wrong here? No, there are some remarkable small organizations here that are deeply integrated and making a difference. They are having an impact in housing, health, water, sanitation and the infrastructure. Why because they are with the people, they come into their homes and they know their needs. When resources and funds are given, those resources and funds make it to those in need quickly instead of feeding miles of bureaucracy. They work closely with both the donor and the recipient and recognize their actions are being watched by each. The biggest difference is that they are actually serving.

Many of the larger NGOs have a non-fraternization policy. They have drivers and SUVs, wonderful walled compounds, cooks and launderers. I know some employees of NGOs who have been here since before the earthquake that cannot order a soda from a road side vendor in Creole. They do drive by site inspections. They never experience food or fuel shortages. Many have their headquarters in Petionville surrounded by the rich elite. I know how furious many Americans were when it was found out that the members of the big automakers flew in private jets to ask congress for money. All people in the west, especially those who have given either from their plenty or from their poverty, should be equally furious now. How is it that I compare non-profit, charitable organization with for-profit capitalist giants? I can because with both it’s all about the money.

The small organizations that are diving into the communities are accomplishing much with very little funds. In the coming weeks It will be these organizations that I will be writing about and how you can contact them to be a help. My hope is that we will stop throwing good money after bad or at least bring some accountability to the larger NGOs. Like America, they have a lot of pork in their budgets and maybe it’s time for it to be trimmed.

In the end I really am sorry for the people that don’t invest themselves here. This country is rich in hope, laughter, love, and the people have amazing hearts. That won’t be learned in a compound or through seven layers of separation.

-- Ray Shader is a former relief worker living in Leogane, Haiti. He can be contacted at: #