Recently I received a grant from Shippensburg University to be a visiting speaker this month and exhibit my photography from Haiti. I spoke to several classes both graduate and undergraduate about my experiences there. While speaking to classes about some of the events and pressing issues the country faces I also spoke in depth about the NGO world in Haiti and government funded organizations like USAID that work there.
There are more NGOs per capita in Haiti then any other country in the world. NGOs and federally funded organizations like USAID have been present in Haiti for the last 30 years. A good question to ask is why Haiti remains one of the poorest countries in the world when they appear to be receiving so much assistance?
Many large NGOs I encountered have a very limited level of community involvement and waste a large amount of resources. Another unfortunate truth is that there are many powerful organizations supporting their own economic and ideological agendas and not always the interest of the Haitian people.
While living in Haiti I met many people who I am blessed to know. People who inspire me with their actions, people who have fully invested their lives to creating change and improving their country regardless of the seemly insurmountable obstacles they face.
People like my friend Fritz Desulme who has planted over 875,000 trees in his country to combat the problem of deforestation. And Natacha Marseille – Her parents were unable to take care of her when she was young so she grew up in an orphanage. She now runs her own orphanage and manages a school that consist of 200 kindergarten and primary children in a poor area of Port au Prince.
What I have learned in Haiti is that the solutions to the problems in Haiti can only come from within. What I have learned is that real change can only happen on the community level, when there is full community investment and involvement.
My recommendation to anyone interested in donating to help Haiti is to find a non-profit that deeply knows its community and works alongside the Haitian people.
Here is a list of organizations I would recommend donating to.
Partners in Health www.pih.org
Trees for Life www.treesforlife.org/haiti
The grant was supported by the Communication/Journalism Department, in collaboration with the Lehman Library, the Modern Language Department and the Women’s and Gender Studies Minor.
Here are a few of the photographs that are on display at the Lehman Gallery on the Shippensburg University campus. They will be hanging from April 2 – 27.