Exploring the idea of a community foundation for Haiti

“How can we get long term reconstruction and development that is Haitian-led and owned?” This was the topic of a two-day meeting held on Haiti’s Arcahaie Coast in late July 2011 which brought together a diverse cross-section of Haitians from civil society organizations, business institutions, members of the Haitian Diaspora and representatives of international foundations. The meeting, which was convened by the GFCF, Espwa, the Puerto Rico Community Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, was a first step in a conversation around the idea of establishing a community foundation-type institution in Haiti.

The “makers” group discuss next steps for the Haiti Community Foundation initiative

The earthquake which hit Haiti on January 12, 2010, killing over 200,000 people and leaving more than 1.3 million more homeless, crippled the country’s already very weak systems and infrastructure. It also prompted a huge outpouring of donations and development aid as well as a massive influx of international NGOs into the country. Increasingly, concerns have been voiced about the ways in which some international development efforts have marginalized local communities and de-emphasized indigenous leadership.

In addition to reflecting on some of the structural flaws in the ways that development funding was being delivered, the group discussed the potential role that a Haitian-owned, Haitian-led philanthropic institution might play in supporting the country’s long-term reconstruction and development, particularly in the areas of strengthening the capacities and voices of home-grown groups and community associations and of developing philanthropic assets which can be both transparently and effectively applied.

This process is still at an early stage and there is much to be done in terms of determining its feasibility, consulting widely with a broad range of Haitians from all walks of life and ensuring that what emerges is deeply rooted in Haiti’s context and culture. An informal working group has been organized which will take responsibility for the next steps in the process.

For more information, contact Espwa (romainmurphy[at]gmail.com)

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