Elevating education, growing food sovereignty, building equitable community, and fostering global understanding and sharing.
The Challenge in Rural Haiti
The decline of rural communities across the globe is a major contributor to political instability and violence. In Haiti, rural people are far more likely than their urban counterparts to be chronically malnourished, experience extreme poverty, live in inadequate and unhealthy housing with no access to sanitation, and quite possibly die young. Their severely degraded land makes rural Haitians especially susceptible to the negative impacts of climate change.
Rural to urban migration rates in Haiti are staggering. In the 1980s, only 25% of the population lived in urban centers, while 53% do today. This trend has produced a devastating drain of talent and ingenuity from the country side as more and more young people move to urban centers in search of jobs and a better life.
Most people in rural Haiti have little access to the kinds of education, opportunities and resources that would enable them to reverse this trend and remain on the land. The Haitian government offers little or no support in the way of services or infrastructure that could aid rural people in improving their quality of life. What development assistance is provided is typically shortsighted and fails to involve communities in the planning. The result is a familiar story: rural development schemes that largely serve foreign or wealthy domestic interests while worsening and perpetuating the problems in rural communities.
Our work is focused on the following priorities.
Our Unique Approach
We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”
We work shoulder-to-shoulder, as the Haitians say, in collaboration with community organizations and groups—creating and learning together. We emphasize inclusive, community-driven, participatory processes for prioritizing community problems and developing solutions to address them.
This process starts by acknowledging and building on traditional, indigenous knowledge and the values of the communities with whom we work. Through community “talking circles” and more structured activities such as cognitive mapping, problems are defined and prioritized.
Knowledge sharing informs potential development solutions. Exchange takes place first among a cross section of local community members, elders and leaders. As appropriate, sharing then happens through cross-cultural exchange with external partners and community members.
Partners in Progress, its partner organizations and community members then work together to visualize and map out a phased plan for development.
Development plans are cooperatively implemented and evaluated with partner and community representatives. This works to promote co-learning and a culture of continuous innovation following a simple but transformative model: “Learn – Do – Improve,” or “Apren – Aplike – Amelyore.” The following diagram illustrates this participatory development process.