Transforming Haiti

When people think of Haiti, they often think “extreme poverty and bad politics”.  These however are only the symptoms of deeper structural problems such as polarization, fragmentation and lack of collective leadership. 

Peacekeeping - MINUSTAH

What do I mean by polarization?  I mean, socio-economic and geographic polarization of resources (urban over rural, richer over poorer).  By fragmentation, I mean fragmentation of the society around issues of race, politics, religion, gender and so on.  I also mean fragmentation of local and international macro-economic and micro-economic interventions… Lack of collective and cohesive leadership. Lack of vision.

This perfect storm didn’t happen overnight, and it will take decades to undo the significant damages.

How do you make Haiti whole again?

It takes more than “one solution”, however it does take long-term investment, long-term vision and patient and comprehensive action.  People need to unlearn distrust, conflict, disempowerment and division and relearn coming together, believing in themselves and trusting each other.  We, Haitian people need to build our country on the foundations of love of country, acceptance of inter-connection, tolerance and realization that, no matter what “class” we come from, what political group we support, where we live, and what shade of the color of our skin is, we are all Haiti.

Please allow me to share with you a community-building process that we have used with success in the Grand’Anse our Pilot Region.  A process which has been creating a movement…

The Haiti Community Foundation Initiative: A Movement to Strengthen and Transform Our Communities and Our Nation


First phase: Identify and connect the leaders of various sectors within each community, through an inclusive planning and building process with the goal of creating and implementing a pro-active and comprehensive development plan that addresses short-term and long-term community-defined priorities.


Second phase: Within a regional context, connect communities to each other in the same way, and encourage their sharing of information as well as their collaboration.  Communities develop an understanding and an awareness of their common needs and goals which enhances their ability to formulate common solutions and work on them through collaboration.


Third Phase: Building on Phase 1 and 2, connect regions to one another through a common platform of local, community-driven, inclusive and sustainable development.  Create a culture of solidarity, support and collaboration, as well as a focus on the collective good, which ultimately benefits each and every one of us! Cultivate an interest in Haiti as “the nation that it can be” and a sense of national identify: Haitian citizens working together to build our communities and our country.  We are all Haiti.


Many thanks to Marie-Rose Romain Murphy, President and Executive Director of Economic Stimulus Projects for Work and Action- ESPWA for this piece!

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