Monday, October 24, 2016

Updates from Les Cayes Haiti

Updates on the work ongoing in Les Cayes

1. First our hearts go out to the region. It was devastated by Hurricane Matthew and then when hit with a second round of flooding and heavy rains again this past Thursday-Saturday. Life is not fair sometimes.

2. The work is still going. The area has been our main focus since Matthew. We are working with Tout Moun Se Moun (All people are people) a group we have worked with on microloans and HaitiScholarships before. It is a group many of you are familiar with as Pierre Alex Dorziere was on campus as part of the BonasandBeyond program.

3. Work has been on such things as reroofing, street clean ups, cleaning out storm gutters, and of course house clean ups.

4. This (from Jean Emmanuel Verdier) - The best thing is that Tout Moun Se Moun/ BonaResponds is working in the most difficult area . It is an area where the government and most NGOs will never go; a forgotten area. We know the field very well and that is why a lot of young people want to join us.

We are still working to implement a Tout Moun Se Moun/BonaResponds team in each borough of Les Cayes. I will come with another plan too and will explain it to you so that you can explain it to the BR committee. For now so far we are doing great. We are the only youth group working [That we know of that has been working] since after the second day of the hurricane until now. Congratulations to the BonaResponds staff. Your work is paying off.

5. There are several large jobs this week. The week starts with cleaning the soccer fields (I will include pictures later). Then the biggest job: cleaning the flooded hospital area. Then back to the storm channel. Work will be going on other jobs as well.

This week's work schedule:
Monday (10-24-16)
Cleaning the soccer field.( Park Mr Henry Isaac)
Tuesday (10-25-16)
Cleaning the Hospital.
Wednesday (10-25-16)
Cleaning and create path in a dangerous canal.
Thursday (10-26-16)
Possible food and water distribution for the HaitiScholarships Parents.
Meeting with some community leader to listen to their needs and complaints.

6. Rochelin reports a great need for seeds and trees. He and his group are looking to open a nursery to get the area's farmers back on their feet. (The NY Times said recently that Matthew will put the agricultural community around Les Cayes back a decade). He reports shortages of seeds and tens of thousands of trees destroyed. We hope to partially fund this.

7. Access to clean water is a growing problem with several reports of increased case of cholera. Purification tablets are costing about $25 for 600 gallons (expensive). A longer-term solution is of a community well costs roughly $3500-$4000 USD.

8. Reginald Rosembert reports that things are awful in the Lacorriere area (10 minutes by moto) from Les Cayes. He and another friend distributed food kits last week. They are looking to do more.

9. The Tout Moun Se Moun/BR tee shirts are in hot demand. 60 more ordered. I THINK that takes the number to above 200 now.

10. With obvious exceptions, things in Leogane are getting back to normal. Indeed, Wesly reports the hiring of an English teacher and we have gone back to planning tutoring and class connections there.

11. The class connection with Robinson DixyBand PollyannaChris Michelot and Carrie Howland Grace (St. Francis School in Cleveland) is this week I THINK. The conversation with a class from Olean was postponed until things settle down some there.

12. So many people to thank. Alex (Dorziere), Manno, the volunteers, the BR leaders, and of course the donors to PositiveRipples who are making this response possible. It is a bad situation, but without your help, it would be much worse.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Bonas and the bigger world

St. Bonaventure University Logo
St. Bonaventure University Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bonas is no longer just a small campus in Western New York (indeed, I question whether it ever really was "just" that but I digress).

We are everywhere. You know that. You have worn a Bona shirt and been stopped all around the world by alumni, by parents of current students, by friends, and even by former co-workers who wanted to say hi to a fellow Bonnie. Indeed we pride ourselves on being a big family.

It is one of the things I like about #Bonas. We are at once welcoming, trusting, and "one".

As the world changes and the grows more interconnected, the so-called BonaBubble (a term I have never liked) becomes more permeable. Online classes, service programs around the world, and study abroad programs have put Bonas in the center of everything. Put another way, the family aspect of Bonas has remained, but the isolation that comes from being on a small campus 90 minutes from a major airport has largely disappeared.

With online classes, University sponsored programs in the UK, Italy, and Brazil, and Bona people working in Haiti, the Bahamas, Liberia, Costa Rica, Uganda, and in so many other places in the world, the Bona Bubble and the Bona Family has grown to encompass much of the world. Something that happens anywhere really affects us all. There is no longer an us and a them, but just us.
While it is sunny and dry in Western New York, #HurricaneMatthew is already hitting Bonas.

Three stories. Each with Bonaventure ties.

1. Let me start with last night. I had an online class (MBA 517 for those of you keeping score), and a student had to miss class because he was in process of evacuating his family. He lives on the SE coast of Florida. (oh and he is a SBU alum too...class of '99). At times like that an MBA class sort of loses its importance. (BTW Thanks to Mike Hoffman it was recorded so he will not actually miss the class assuming power is not lost for long.)

2. Next story: The Bahamas. For what will be 14 years this coming January,Todd Palmer and his St. Bonaventure University Enactus crew have done great work there. This past January, I was fortunate enough to be a very small part of their program (basically I was a driver and a person who made all the others appear to be on time by my tardiness).
I have heard from a few people from that trip: Tony ( St. Bonaventure Alumni) and from some we helped and from those that have worked with the Bonaventure students for over a decade. They are hunkered down hoping their homes do not flood. Praying for #Matthew to leave. They are family.

3. My last story for now. As most of you know, for the past few weeks we have had Haitian friends on campus as part of BonasandBeyond. I am biased, but they were a great group. A wonderful group. People who are leaders in Haiti. People who are out helping others.
In the world view of some, bad things only happen to bad people. I completely and totally disagree. Bad things happen to all people at some time. If you ever doubt that, here is exhibit A. The people of Haiti. They are some of the best people I have ever met. Some of the most giving people I have seen. And yet they were hit hard by disaster after disaster. Not due to any fault of their own but that they were born in a country whose past violence and corruption have created an impoverished nation that is unable to withstand repeated natural disasters.
As I promised a story and not an economics lesson, let me tell you of Pierre Alex Dorziere He is pictured below while on campus. Indeed, he may have sold you a shirt if you were at Bonagany or he may have worked at your home (when the Haitians were here they worked at 4 homes in the local area as part of BonaResponds). He is a great guy. He heads our efforts in Microloans in Haiti and is the Les Cayes head ofHaitiScholarships. He left me his size nine boots as they were too heavy to carry on the plane when he left. He told me to give them to someone who needed them.
He almost didn't come to SBU because his wife is 8 months pregnant. Below are pictures of both Pierre and his wife. Look closely, you might notice the roof of their home is missing. He is family. The shirt he is wearing? Says that all people are people. Tout Moun Se Moun.
We can not help everyone that is affected by the hurricane. We can not help all who are affected by poverty. But we can help some. With your help we can help more people.
Let me end this post with a quote from Stephany Desgranges. She should have been on campus, but was unable to get a visa. Next year I hope she is on campus. She is a very smart woman from Petit Goave Haiti. This morning she sent some pictures and this quote that is says it better than I can:
"We're coming back from this thing. Hurricanes come and go.But the Haitian fighting spirit can never be defeated, No rains hard enough, no winds strong enough, no thunder loud enough. We rise again and again every time... with a wink and a smile. I am so proud of my people."
(note: we are also collecting school supplies, Tools, gardening tools, and soccer equipment for Haiti so if you do not want to donate money (first choice since easy to send and it helps the Haitian economy), please get involved in some way).
Don't want to give short term needs? Donate to HaitiScholarships and get more people in school so they can prevent future disasters.
It is too early to know if we can do a larger group trip to #Haiti. I expect to be going personally. Also remember the storm is not over yet. We still have the US coast line to worry about. Right now it is all too much uncertainty to know what the future holds.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Come hear Fr. Joseph on campus Sunday September 25th

Fr. Joseph Philippe will be speaking in the Murphy Aud at 6:30PM on September 25th.) 

The Huffington Post described him as: 
"Father Joseph Philippe has the kind of vision and indomitable spirit that might earn someone a Nobel Peace Prize or an Academy Award. But his name probably isn’t one many have heard before."

some background: 

He started Fonkoze (a microloan program in Haiti)

here is the first part of a video they made about him. 

and a recent Huffington post story on him: 

You will definitely want to attend!!! 

This Weekend's work

Jobs are really backing up.   

We have everything from trailer cleanouts, wheelchair ramp requests, trail work, and much more. 

This Saturday at 12:30 in Swan 101 there will be a WarmSnugglyBlanket making day.  

Sunday 11:15 we will make our first wheelchair ramp of the new semester.  Meet by the BR trailer in the lower parking lot by the baseball field. 

Come Volunteer and change the world!!!

open to all!

Thursday, September 01, 2016

BonaResponds Sign up form 2016

We are ALWAYS looking for leaders and volunteers!  
Volunteer and change the world!

Monday, August 29, 2016

BonaResponds Kickoff meeting!

THURSDAY September 1 5:30PM-6:30PM (this Thursday). BonaResponds general interest meeting. MURPHY AUD
We will lay out upcoming work days, trips, BonasandBeyond (when we will be hosting Haitians on campus for classes and more)

We will also be discussing:

  1. Upcoming local work days! (MUCH work ahead!!) Trail work, ramps, clean-ups, tutoring, and more!
  2. A Possible/probable Louisiana fall break trip for flood clean up
  3.  WarmSnugglyBlanket--blankets of people with cancer (and other challenges) 
  4.  HaitiScholarships -which has 41 students studying this year in Haiti 
  5. BonasandBeyond -which just started this spring and now has over 7700 people following us on Facebook! Mainly from Africa and SE Asia and Haiti. 
  6. PositiveRipples--the umbrella over much of our international work. , tutoring in Haiti, how we can help bring more unity to the world and more!

The meeting will be as short as possible (and come even if you have a 6pm class!
5:30 Murphy Aud. Hope to see many of you there! 
Come join us to make the world better and more united!

Love ALL!  Serve ALL!  Volunteer and change the world! 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Building bridges--Literally!

Our small donation to our group in Haiti is definitely changing the world!

                   In the wake of a recent flood in the Bino Lapoint area of Leogane Haiti, we initiated a project to help
Haitians help other Haitians.  Lamarre and Wesley have been doing great work leading a team of people in cleaning up after the flood and working to reduce additional flooding.

To date 25 volunteers working with members of the community have:

  • Distributed 75 cleaning kits 
  • helped cleaned in and around several homes
  • dug a channel (think drainage ditch) to hopefully prevent future flooding
  • begun cleaning out the second channel to allow the water to flow and not back up causing more flooding. 
What still needs to be done:
  • finish digging the new drainage ditch
  • clean out existing channel
  • build three small bridges over the new channel
  • Install cement floors into homes that currently have dirt floors

Update from Lamarre: 

The work would make an impact on more than 100 houses,but that doesn't mean we will repair or restore 100 houses.We could just restore some of them--the most vulnerable. 
The work for the canal is also taking longer than we thought. There are two types of canals that need to be made. The one that we are digging along the road and another that has water but which is full of trash. It will need to be cleaned as well to create space and make it free for water to pass when it is raining.  
We will also need to make some small bridges on the canals side close to the houses entrance.

These improvements SHOULD reduce future flooding and make the homes safer.  There are 100 people (approximately 300 people) living in this area. 

Digging channels by hand and pouring cement in a hot climate is exhaustive and often thankless work, so additionally we do feel a need to feed the volunteers and provide water.  In a perfect world ,we would also provide BonaResponds shirts and footwear (many are working in flip flops). 

We began with a small investment.  But we will need to invest upwards of $2000 more to complete this (Roughly the cost of a ramp and a half in the US).

Approximate cost for cement is $30USD per house (we will assume $40 since costs are almost always greater than initial estimates).  Cement for the small bridges will run $70 each and some lumber and steel will be needed as well Estimated cost $250 per bridge.  

6 Homes * 40 for cement floors     $ 240
Food for two weeks of volunteers  $500

3 bridges                                         $750
Transportation                                  $60 

Tools                                                  $200 * 

Rudimentary footwear                      $100
BR Tshirts (30*5)                              $150
Estimated Total cost                         $2000 USD

*tools would be saved to used for future projects as well

 Is it worth it?  We think so!  But we want your opinion:  Do we continue?  Do we invest in the lives of these 300 people?  At a cost of less than $7 a person?  We vote yes.  But please let us know your opinion.  Vote now!   

If you do want to donate: 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Want to change the world? Improve Education!

Education wins!  Better education will lead to better govenment, better technology, better food, and longer life expectancies.  WINS all around!

Want more good news?  Money donated for scholarships goes to pay teachers in the country and not donations of goods that can ruin markets in those countries.   More WINS!

More good news?  Better education is sustainable and expanding.  Better educated parents teach their children more.  Even more WINS!

Here is an example from a recent applicant to the HaitiScholarships program (we partner with HaitiScholarships on many many projects).

In Liberia, for about $40 a year a young child can go to school (remember these are the orphans whose parents have died from Ebola).  In Haiti, the costs are a bit higher, but for less than a dollar a day ($200 for primary, $350 for High School, $800 for College)

Don't think if it as a donation (although it is a taxable donation), think of it as an investment in a better world!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bonas and Beyond

In addition to the online economics class that we are running, we have started a Facebook page for Bonas and Beyond!   We will be sharing educational material that can make a difference in people's lives around the globe.  We'd love you to "like" the page and to share it with your friends!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Mid-March podcast

Listen up to what is going on with BonaResponds!

Monday, March 07, 2016

BonaResponds Post Spring Break Update

* We are back from our spring break trip to Dallas Texas.  If you missed out, you missed lots of hard work, but also fun (North Texas Irish Festival, a tour and trip to Fort Worth), good food, and most importantly meeting some great new friends while helping people recover from a disaster.  A huge thank you to everyone who helped and went on the trip! Hundreds of pictures available here and here.

* A Thank you to Jim Cochran in Buffalo!  Not only did he distribute 30+ @WarmSnugglyblankets, but he also arranged to have them given to those getting chemo at CCS oncology.  In one move, Jim solved many of our distribution problems for WSB!  (remember, if you know of someone with cancer, let us know and we can send a blanket in your name!)  (look for thank-yous for those who have been making blankets in the coming week!)

* As mentioned before the Dallas trip, we aim to help plant 3000 trees in Haiti.  Have been in contact with @TreeAngelsforHaiti and Onel in the past week.  We will be back in touch on this shortly. Stay tuned.

* Let there be sun!  Thanks to Rob Granger, Pierce Steel, and Mike Ellman we now have solar electric (to charge cordless drills etc) and lights in our trailer!  This will allow us to see!  Improves safety, efficiency, and MAYBE even neatness!  

* Our first online
#BonasandBeyond program starts this week. It is a 6-week course in economic foundations. It is free. If you have not signed up, please do so! we have about 20 people signed up so far. It is set to go live on Tues March 8. So sign up today!

* We are getting the first of the updates from the money we sent to the winners in the #BonasandBeyond program’s presentations for capital to help Haiti.  Heard from Djemson that the harvest has started of beans that will be sold to help fund orphanage and school for the 17 children under his care.  Also, the Little Garden program is going well!  We look forward to hearing from the others soon.  

* In response to the movie Poverty.Inc, I was asked about our solar program in Haiti.  Yes, we buy the solar units from Haitian suppliers.  So we are helping in a way that does not hurt their economy.  If we can raise $1500 by International Service Day (April 9-10) we will be able to install solar electric in another school!  

* Wesley is starting a BonaResponds program at his school in Leogane Haiti.  I am THRILLED by this. It will work like this (I think):  once a month school children will work (on a Saturday) on a project that makes Haiti better.  We will be partially funding it and providing lunch for the volunteers.  It is a great win:win:win program.  The students learn the importance of giving back and they learn new skills.  Those that are helped are made better off.  And the local Haitian economy is helped by the purchase of food etc for the program.  

* Onel is looking to buy/make BonaResponds t-shirts in Haiti for a large tree planting day there. Stay tuned. Not sure how much we can economically justify but we will be doing something for the volunteers there.

* Soccer in Les Cayes is starting up again this month after a break.  Look for pictures soon from Rochelin.  We are still looking to buy a lawnmower in Haiti for them.  Proving to be 1000 times more difficult than I expected.  

* On March 19 we are working with CYC on a local wheelchair ramp.  It should go VERY fast with the two groups working together.  On March 13 we will be prepping for it.  Plan on coming out to help on both days! (Saturday we are off this weekend due to Open house on campus and interviewing Business Dean Candidates).

* Remember, April 9-10 is International Service Weekend.  PLAN AN EVENT in your country, city, neighborhood.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

PovertyInc -Post viewing update and "get involved" request

Both showings went well yesterday! 143 people saw #PovertyInc. and we had a good discussion after both sessions.

If you didn't get to attend, I HIGHLY recommend getting a copy (you can pre-order it now) and more importantly joining the conversation.

My notes/takeaways (I take many notes, sorry for the length but if it were easy, there would be no poverty and no reason to watch the movie.)

1. It should never, ever, be "us" and "them". We are all the same just have different circumstances and experiences.
2. Empowerment leads to betterment.
3. Property rights, security, and legal protections are more important than 98% of the people (esp non-economists​) realize.
4. "No one wants to be a beggar for life"
5. Charity is only a part (and a short-term part at that) of any successful movement to reduce suffering and poverty.
6. Business, economics, and improved government are the dominant forces in any successful poverty alleviation plan.
7. Listen to the needs of the people. Do not force your plan on them.
8. "Bigger is not always better" applies to NGOs as much as anything else.
9. Debt is good and bad. It can jump start an economy/business or it can lead to a new kind of servitude/slavery. Use it with caution and in small amounts.
10. Facilitation​ is better than domination.
11. Poor people often work even harder than rich people. They are not poor because of lack of effort but for a myriad of reasons many beyond their control.
12. Sustainability wins in the long run.
13. Free trade is good, BUT labor is sticky. Be VERY careful in creating winners and losers from trade.
14. Government subsidies often come with unintended consequences.
15. (With apologies to fish species) Teaching how to fish is better than giving out fish.
16. People are not poor for a lack of things.
17. Get the system right. A bad system will hold back the best people.
18. Handouts are like band-aids​. They may help but don't always address​ the underlying problem.
19. "Heart" and "mind" are needed.
20. Almost always a "hand-up" trumps a "hand out."
21. We need to get this right. Too many are living in too bad of conditions.
22. There is no easy answer; No silver bullet. Alleviating poverty demands a multi-pronged​ approach that includes business, government, NGOs, and you and me.

Join us (BonaResponds and the entire SBU community) as we seek to address these issues. Email and we will share links (audio, video, and reading (it is still a thing)) and include you in the discussions (in person and online--so PLEASE get involved whether at SBU or wherever​ you are.) #Haiti #Liberia #Philippines, #Ghana #Olean

(from our FB page)

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

More on PovertyiINC

I am getting very excited about this video being shown at SBU!!!

I love love love the line "Poor people are not poor because they lack stuff".  NAILS IT!!

Here are a few interviews/podcasts to warm you up:

Speaks about the Pope and more:

From EconTalk:


BonaResponds is sponsoring an International Service Weekend this year which will take place Saturday April 9th and Sunday April 10th. A whole weekend of good deeds and volunteering! International Service Weekend is when we ask people locally and around the world to go make the world a better place AND to share what they did.

Help those who need the help (we are all in need of help in some way), to show that problems are not insurmountable (together we can solve them), to remind everyone that we all have some skills that can be used to help others, and most importantly, to have fun.

Here are some examples of easy ways you can participate in International Service Weekend:

  1. Clean up a local park
  2. Read to students in a local school/community center
  3. Pick up trash along a trail
  4. Volunteer at or Donate to a food pantry
  5. Help clean up an elderly neighbor’s yard
  6. Visit someone in a nursing home
  7. Help someone you know who needs a helping hand
  8. Invite a lonely neighbor over for dinner
  9. Etc., etc.

It is really that simple. Do a good deed and share it!

You can participate alone or with any sized group. We are open to anyone and willing to work with everyone. So go get involved; volunteer and change the world!   

Feel free to sign up or read more information about this event on our webpage: Watch for updates via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and our website: Please tag us using #BonaReponds on your social media updates, reflections, photos, etc. or email us at Thank You!!!