As part of its initiative to help fund grassroots organizations helping their communities recover from January’s earthquake, Direct Relief International has awarded $150,000 in grants to six local groups working in Haiti.
Batey Relief Alliance
Founded in 1997, the Batey Relief Alliance (BRA) addresses the socioeconomic and health needs of children and families severely affected by poverty, disease, and hunger in economically at-risk areas, including the Haiti/Dominican Republic border. BRA provides access to basic healthcare to disadvantaged populations to foster economic self-sufficiency better health.
BRA is working in the southeast border region of Haiti in the communities of Belle Anse and Grand Gosier to build a medical center to provide health services to 25,000 people annually. Direct Relief has been supporting the BRA with medical supplies in the Dominican Republic for several years, and is providing this partner with a $30,000 grant to purchase new laboratory equipment for patient tests to detect, prevent, and cure diseases.
Gawou Ginou Foundation
The Gawou Ginou Foundation supports the Gawou Ginou Elementary School in Mirebalais, which opened in 2000 with nine pupils. That number has expanded to more than 200 students, an increase of greater than 30 percent in recent months. The school’s approach is to promote self-help through the philosophy of “humanocentrism,” or ethical behavior as the as the foundation for human action.
A $25,000 grant will provide six months of funding for a feeding center and meal program for impoverished students, many of whose parents are seasonal workers living in precarious conditions. The feeding center’s educational programs will include seedling and crop plantings to encourage sustainable development. The school will also offer cultural programming and courses in health and preventive care.
Angel Wings International
Led by a native of Jacmel, Angel Wings International, Inc., brings sorely needed medical services to the extremely impoverished children and families served by a local mission. Most–if not all–patients have never been exposed to modern medicine and rely on home remedies to treat illnesses. Angel Wings works to improve the health and well-being of underserved individuals in this community. The health facility is committed to maintaining the highest standards of care, rooted in utmost integrity and moral practice.
A $25,000 grant to Angel Wings will help build a new medical clinic out of shipping containers, hire and train local medical personnel to manage the clinic, and pay for the transport of overseas medical personnel who will work in the clinic for two weeks every month. By providing access to health care where there is none, the rate of disease will decrease, basic social needs will be met, and Jacmel’s residents will enjoy better health and well-being overall.
Friends of Petit-Goave
Friends of Petit-Goave (FPG) has been conducting medical fairs in Petit-Goave and the surrounding communities for almost 10 years. It provides medical care to men, women, and underprivileged children who wouldn’t otherwise receive care. In 2004, FPG founded Ecole Decilus Monice, a school to educate underprivileged children and orphans between the ages of 5 and 14. It holds classes five days a week, morning and afternoon, teaching math, Creole, French, reading, social studies, writing, science, and hygiene.
After the earthquake, FPG identified an even greater need for medical care in Petit-Goave. Its school building has collapsed and the students have not been able to attend school for over four months. A grant for $25,000 will enable FPG to provide free medical clinics every two- to three weeks serving 150 to 200 people per clinic. It will also rebuild the schoolhouse and host a large medical fair to provide medical screenings, treatment, and medications to the entire Petit-Goave community.
Haitian Education and Leadership Program
The Haitian Education and Leadership Program (HELP) began in 1997 when Executive Director Conor Bohan, an American teaching in Haiti, provided his own funds to send one of his top students to medical school. Bohan continued to match high-achieving students with sponsors, and in 2002, HELP was officially granted nonprofit status. A total of 108 students are now on scholarship at five internationally recognized institutions in Haiti. The need for an educated population in Haiti is essential, as 85 percent of Haiti’s university graduates have emigrated and the university enrollment rate is 1 percent. HELP supports students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds more likely to remain in Haiti and provide for their families. Students have a graduation rate of higher than 80 percent and a 100 percent employment rate, compared to the 60 percent national employment rate countrywide.
HELP has established a scholarship fund in the memory of Marc-Erline Dezulma and Evenson Jean, two students who died in the earthquake, and has placed more than 80 students in relief work as medical interns in hospitals around the country, as civil engineering interns, translators, and work-crew supervisors. Teams of HELP students have conducted focus groups and human-rights investigations for Former President Bill Clinton’s United Nations Office of the Special Envoy, The Lamp for Haiti Foundation, and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. HELP is also housing and feeding all of its students working in the recovery effort in Port-au-Prince and providing English- and Spanish-language classes so the students can assist more effectively in the effort.
Because the country’s universities are closed, HELP is incurring at least six months of unbudgeted and unfunded costs while their students are employing their education and training to help their communities. Direct Relief is providing $25,000 to cover these costs so that HELP can continue to send high-achieving students to school.
Fondation J’Aime Haiti
An estimated 800,000 people are living with special needs in Haiti, which represents about 10 percent of the population. After the earthquake, those numbers have risen significantly. In Haiti, people with disabilities are marginalized and lack adequate access to such basic services as health care, education, and work-placement programs. Fondation J’Aime Haïti works to sensitize the general population about the living condition of people with disabilities to help remove negative stereotypes and cultural barriers that prevent social inclusion.
Direct Relief is providing J’Aime Haïti with $30,000 to launch the radio program “Vwa Moun Andikape En Action,” or “The Voice of People with Disabilities in Action,” to spread positive messages about the capacity of people with disabilities and the need for solidarity and respect. The radio program will accompany disability-awareness campaigns in communities through schools, churches, and other institutions. The informational program will promote inclusive practices and give people with disabilities and their families the tools and motivation they need to face the challenges of everyday life.