Tuesday, May 19, 2015

5 years ago...a look back to a NON BonaResponds trip and why it is still relevant

Physical Location map Haiti with departements,...
Physical Location map Haiti with departements, Equirectangular projection, N/S stretching 105 %. Geographic limits of the map: N: 20.2° N S: 17.9° N W: 74.6° E O: 71.5° E (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This is from Jim's Facebook page, but many of you are not friends, so we will share here too:

5 years ago I made my first trip to Haiti and arrived on Flag Day. This year Wesley a good friend of mine from Leogane shared pictures of the day there.

5 years ago, parades, earthquake damaged roads, and traffic made it a 7 hour trip from Port au Prince to Leogane (usually about 90 min). The 7-hour drive (and I use that term loosely) showed me enough of Haiti that by the time we arrived at camp (after lights out) I knew for certain that the Haitian journey for both BonaResponds and me had just begun.

So much has changed since that trip both good and bad. People have come and gone, my mom (my largest supporter) died, @BonaResponds has grown in many ways while struggling to replace its great leaders who were lost to graduation, and so much more. But many of the friendships forged on that first trip are still rock solid.

English: Overflight of Leogane, Haiti followin...
English: Overflight of Leogane, Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We worked with All Hands Volunteers in Leogane. In my goodbye talk on that first trip I remember saying that the work in Haiti was far from over and that the long run work needed would last decades. From infrastructure and basic needs to schools and education, there remains much to do. Fortunately many Haitians are taking the lead this time and doing incredible work. I have been exceedingly fortunate to be able to meet (and work alongside) many of these modern day nation builders. I encourage you all to get involved and help raise the standard of living for all.

There are so many things that we could be doing to support the work of our Haitian friends if we had more involvement: a car wash fundraiser to fund more partial scholarships through HaitiScholarships, solar for schools and businesses through PositiveRipples, funding more gardens through Bona Responds, or making donations to any of the many groups we have worked with.

English: Satellite image showing deforestation...
English: Satellite image showing deforestation in Haiti. This image depicts the border between Haiti (left) and the Dominican Republic (right). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Their success is amazing. From garden projects, to wells, composting toilets Haitians are doing the necessary work. Groups we have worked with (and helped fund) planted well over 2000 trees in the last month alone to reduce deforestation. We have now shipped nearly 130 pallets of school supplies (and medical supplies) to groups and schools on the ground in Haiti (with the next shipment going out Saturday), and via our spinoff HaitiScholarships) have given partial scholarships for scores of students to attend school.

But (and there is always a but), the work is daunting. So many people do not have access to clean water, electricity, or a good education. We can make a dent in this.

A trick in behavioral finance/economics (a class I teach) is to publically make the statement which then becomes a binding constraint. It is paradoxical from a rational perspective as you are giving up flexibility, but it works (see Stickk.com), but it works. So let me publically state that my goal is to have at least 4 more scholarship winners in Les Cayes, 6 more in Leogane, as well as two solar electric systems installed by the time schools start in Fall. (and for the first time, some of these new scholarships will be set aside for female students to increase their opportunities).

To conclude, I want to wish all of Haiti a belated happy flag day and ask everyone to get involved and to help make the world (and in particular Haiti) a better place!

(long list of names of people and organizations deleted)

Finally, please let me address the ubiquitous "But there are poor people here" comment that is bound to come. "YES YES YES" there are many poor people everywhere and I encourage you to work at home as well. BonaResponds does local work almost every week of the year. Unfortunately, I have been on way too many BonaResponds local work days with no volunteers to believe that this type of comment is anything more than chafe to distract from the real issue: there are too many poor people in the world. Too many who are not given the same opportunities as others. We are all one human race. We live in on the same planet. We did not choose where (or when) to be born. As those of us who won the "birth lottery" we owe it to everyone to help raise their standard of living whether they live in the USA, Haiti, or anywhere else.
Don't forget Haiti! THANK YOU everyone on this list and the many others. Just thinking back to each of you has given me more hope and encouragement! We can do this. We can (and will) make things better! I hope many of you agree! We'd loev to have you involved!!