Northern Friends of Haiti has been recognized as having an ideal model for assisting communities in developing countries. Their methodology is one of “empowerment”; they partner with local Haitian communities to clarify their needs and develop solutions. They then inject money directly into the local economies by hiring the residents to implement the work. Literally thousands of Haitians in the remote, rugged, mountainous area of Bayonnais, Haiti have benefited from this approach and the resulting projects and programs.
In the past three years Northern Friends of Haiti has invested nearly $500,000 US in this rural valley developing clean drinking water sources; constructing roads to improve access to, and within, the valley; installing erosion control measures and terracing hillsides to further reduce erosion and improve farm land bringing about greater food stability. Northern Friends of Haiti has also built a medical clinic, staffed by Haitian professionals, which is now providing access to medical care in an area where none previously existed.
On October 4th, 2016, a massive category 4 hurricane, “Matthew”, passed over the Bay of Haiti in a rare south to north direction at a painfully slow 7 mile per hour pace. The 12 to 15 inches of rain that fell in less than 24 hours onto the deforested mountains of South Bayonnais was more than the newly created conservation and erosion control measures could manage. Thousands of stone retaining walls were washed away. Water wells located adjacent to ravines were overrun and eroded by the excessive water barreling down from above. Roads were damaged beyond passable. In addition, “Matthew’s” sustained 35-50 mph winds destroyed the seasonal crops these subsidence farming communities need to survive and removed many tin roofs from homes.
“My experience is that Haitians do not want a handout. They are a proud, hardworking people who simply need assistance. Unfortunately, the natural disasters that keep hammering them have made it impossible for Haitians to improve their situation,” says Mark Gilbert, founder of Northern Friends of Haiti. “Tragically, in 24 short hours, Hurricane Matthew destroyed most of the efforts of the past three years as well as this years’ crops. Unfortunately, these poor Haitian communities do not have a “FEMA” to come help them rebuild. Our work is even more essential now!”
Northern Friends of Haiti is developing a proactive plan to repair and replace damaged water wells and sources; rebuild erosion control measures and repair roads. They actively fundraising to address these measures as well as assist communities and families who have lost their homes. Belongings and food sources. It should be noted, Northern Friends of Haiti is the ONLY international presence working with the 17 villages and 12,000 inhabitants of this area in a country that boasts 10,000 non-government organizations; one for every 1000 Haitians. Please help these measures.