We embarked on our journey to Haiti on March 22nd, 2014, with the goal to document the voices of unheard grass-root organizations there. Through our meetings with community leaders, we were able to better understand their work in context with the myriad challenges the people of Haiti face. On previous excursions to the country, we studied the history of foreign and internal political corruption, overwhelming poverty rates, and insufficient educational opportunities in Haiti. Our recent trip in March helped us connect the dots, to understand the relationship between these issues.

Each group with whom we met expressed concern over the prevalent resistance to change from their government and the overbearing grasp politics held over the people working to achieve self-sufficiency for Haiti’s poor. The perpetual corruption has been deeply ingrained in Haiti, dating back to the days it became the first independent black state in 1804. For this reason, the cycle of exploitation, social injustice, and political farce in Haiti continues and is perhaps best highlighted by the foreign-backed coups against Aristide, the first democratically elected president with an overwhelming 67% majority in 1991 and later 92%, in 2004. Another example of the corruption that plagues the country is the recent exclusion of the Famni Lavalas Party in the latest elections, composed of over 90% of the Haitian population, particularly those who are living in poverty.

For these political reasons, coupled with the immense issues the people of Haiti face as a result of oppressive poverty, Globals For Solidaritè ‘s charter is to stand in solidarity with grass-root organizations that strive to build Haiti from the ground up. The voices of Haiti reveal the strength and infinite hope that embodies the spirit of this impoverished nation.

A fundamental issue in Haiti is the lack of access to sanitary water. Through the generous donations supplied by RainCatcher, we were able to distribute five water filters to areas. By providing a source of clean water to 2 different communities, we were able to make a dramatic impact to people’s livelihood there.

The inhumane conditions we witnessed at the tent city, Camp Acra, in Petionville, perhaps most graphically, highlighted the need for clean water — a basic human necessity. 6,000 Haitians have been forced to live in this tent city since the earthquake in 2010 and despite years of imploring those in power to improve the conditions in the area, nothing has been done to alievate the suffering there. Acra decided to take matters into their own hands and created a board within their community to address the issues they encounter on a daily basis.

We had the opportunity to meet with the board, led by activist Elie – and it was clear the health and wellbeing of thousands were dependent on clean water. Although there is a water pump that provides water to the camp, the sanitation is questionable and the cost is unreasonable for people in this area. For this reason, we decided to give Elie three RainCatcher water filters to disperse amongst members of the community.

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This is an image that depicts the housing within Acra’s tent city, just outside the room we met the board in.

One of the three filters was directly given to a woman, Butau Marie Math to aid her six children under the age of ten. Supporting a family in the constraints of a tent city is unbearably difficult and by providing Butau Marie with a source of clean water, we have given her the ability to worry about one less obstacle facing her children. When we placed the filter in her possession, she expressed a sense of overwhelming gratitude and relief for the support that has been denied so persistently. These filters not only provided clean water for her family, but were deemed a gift representing solidarity and hope. There was no greater sense of the donations impact then being greeted by the smiling faces of Batau Marie Math’s children.

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Above is an image of Butau Marie Math after receiving her water filter and her children, who’s smiles reassured the value of our distributions.

The remaining two filters were placed in the hands of Sakala, an oasis amongst Cite Soleil ruins. This organization works to encourage the youth in the slum to follow a positive path despite the circumstances into which they were born. This safe haven is complete with a soccer team, community garden, library and computer lab. The beautiful garden built on what once was a junkyard, is a symbol of Sakala’s mission: to promote a positive outlet for the youth to make life out of destruction. This oasis gives children the ability to escape the horrors hovering their community by providing a support system and place of hope for them to grow.

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Above is a photograph taken on the outskirts of Sakala. The image reveals the conditions that the community surrounding the organization lives in.

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Sakala’s soccer field, library, and auditorium provided for the community.

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This is a section of the community garden built upon a junk yard that supplies food for the youth and families associated with the organization.

When discussing the water situation with the leaders of Sakala, we were told about the lack of focus on clean water, and therefore the lack of availability for it. Since this organization has been working so diligently on providing sources of nutrition for the youth through the garden, a subsequent neglect toward the need for water has been apparent. For this reason, the two water filters provided by RainCatcher.Org were given to Sakala to supply the children with a source of clean water. They will be keeping the filters in the common room to share with those who enter the oasis.

Through the distribution of these filters, and the questions we addressed when meeting with the organizations, the immanent need for clean water in many communities was revealed. Our main focus in assisting these grass root organizations doesn’t directly address these issues, but through the distribution of these filters, our eyes were opened to the dire need for access to clean water.

Thanks to RainCatcher, we were able to directly aid women and children in neglected communities. Globals for Solidaritè takes pride in standing in solidarity with Haitian grass root organizations through the support of education, empowering women and youth, and increasing the standard of living. Through the assistance of RainCatcher’s, we were able to expand our reach with direct, tangible impact. The ability to provide these hard working individuals with access to clean water, has hydrated the Haitian spirit, revitalizing hope in the hearts of the suffering, and most important of all, has helped the people of Haiti build their country from the ground up.

-Audrey Cashen and Emily Laurance