Issuu on Google+


2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. Haïti Report

2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. HAÏTI REPORT

Summary Through NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. (Contributing through Advocacy, Resources, Education, and Service) Program, the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) provided an opportunity for ten law students from across the country to travel and serve Haïti. This year, the ten Haïti delegates worked in partnership with the Vincentian Family Worldwide's Zafèn Project 2


2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. Haïti Report

and assisted with projects supporting and promoting the United Nations Millennium Development Goals for Haïti. The delegates were chosen through an application and interview process. Under the guidance of our partner in Haïti, the students were able to visit and assess various start-ups and ongoing projects. This report prepared by the delegates is comprised of: a) background information about NBLSA C.A.R.E.S.; b) a synopsis of the Vincentian Family; c) short biographies of the participants and contributors; d) the students’ perceptions before and after visiting Haïti; e) a summary of many impressive projects the students visited; and f) action items for NBLSA and the international community to help Haïti move forward.

3


2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. Haïti Report

About NBLSA and NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. The National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) is the nation's largest studentrun organization representing over 6,000 minority law students from over 200 chapters and affiliates throughout the United States and six other countries. In addition to articulating and promoting educational, professional, political and social agenda of Black law students, NBLSA has undertaken many initiatives, like NBLSA C.A.R.E.S., that touch lives beyond the borders of the United States. NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. (Contributing through Advocacy, Resources, Education, and Service) is a program designed “to expose law students to international issues, while nurturing their interest in international law. Students are given the opportunity to serve on an international level, which allows NBLSA to touch more lives," said National Director of International Relations, Crystal Ikanih. For the last four years, NBLSA has raised over $7,000 and volunteered more than 1000 hours on behalf of issues affecting Haïti. NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. has sent several students from various law schools across the country to volunteer in Haïti. As Jerry Boies, a native of Haïti and 2012 delegate said, “Haïti greatly needs NBLSA’s help. NBLSA members are not only future leaders in the legal profession, but are in many respects current leaders in their own communities very capable of helping Haïti.” This year, from January 2-7, 2012, ten NBLSA student-members traveled to Haïti to work in partnership with the Vincentian Family Worldwide's Zafèn Project, an initiative dedicated to effectively serving marginalized people around the world. More specifically, the participants evaluated projects that promote the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by assessing their sustainability and effectiveness on human/economic development within a human-rights model. In conjunction with the service trip, NBLSA donated $1,000 to the Zafèn Project to support the development of small businesses in Haïti.

About the Vincentian Family The Vincentian Family is a worldwide network of non-profit charitable organizations with a well-established organizational structure in more than 135 countries. The Vincentian Family has its roots in the life and works of Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac, who together identified the needs of and cared for the poor through food distribution, hospitals, orphanages, spiritual ministries and other services in 17th century France.

4


2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. Haïti Report

Today, the Vincentian Family consists of more than 1 million members, including the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the International Association of Charities, Jeunesse Mariale Vincentienne, the Daughters of Charity, the Sisters of Charity Federation of North America, and the Congregation of the Mission. To learn more about the Vincentian Family, you may visit www.famvin.org. In commeration of the 350th anniversary of the passing of St. Vincent Depaul, the Vincentian Family has created a partnership with several organizations: the Haitian microfinance institution, Fonkoze; a diaspora association, Haitian Hometown Association Resource Group; and Depaul University. The ultimate aim of the partnership is to nurture, develop, and generate financial support for Haitian projects that respond to one or more of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. This partnership produced Zafèn (meaning “it’s our business” in Haitian Creole), a funding source for growing Haitian businesses and social projects that do not qualify for traditional bank loans and otherwise would not have access to capital. Zafèn’s website (www.zafen.org) allows the general public to invest in businesses by providing interest free microloans. Zafèn also hosts “social” projects which seek donations rather than loans. Social projects are poverty-focused amelioration programs that do not garner profits, e.g. scholarships.

About the Participants  Dominique de Vastey is a second-year law student at Washington University interested in a career in litigation, immigration, and international transactional work. In college, she helped form the Haïti Awareness Project and wrote her Master’s thesis on Haïti an-American literature. Prior to law school, she taught English in France and volunteered at SOS Racisme, a French antidiscrimination non-profit organization. In South Africa last summer, she assisted criminal defense attorneys at the Legal Aid Board and worked at Lawyers for Human Rights where she counselled asylum-seekers and refugees on immigration issues and volunteered at the Legal Aid Board assisting criminal defense attorneys. Currently serving on the board of the Immigration Law Society, the International Law Society, and the Faculty Appointments Committee, Dominique is also is a member of the Niagara International Moot Court team and student editor of the International Law Student Association Quarterly.  Gregory Marcelin is a third-year law student at Penn State Dickinson School of Law. Before coming to Penn State, Gregory served as the Director for the New Jersey Haitian Student Association; one of the largest student-run non-profit organizations in New Jersey. During his term, Gregory oversaw two services trips to Gonaives, coordinated the annual Haitian Flag Day Parade in New Jersey and developed many cultural programs in New Jersey's Haitian community. After law school, Gregory would like to focus on immigration, real estate and international business law. 5


2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. Haïti Report

 Jerry Boies is a third-year law student at North Carolina Central University School of Law. As a native of Haïti, Jerry is fluent in both French and Haitian Creole. While in law school, Jerry has worked on many projects that directly impact Haitians and other minority groups, such as an immigration law project on Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians living in the United States. He has also worked on proposals for legislation in the office of Congresswoman Laura Richardson in the United States House of Representatives. After law school, Jerry aspires to establish a business and real estate law practice in New York, where he handled many real estate transactions as a realtor before attending law school.  Julie Wenah is originally from Houston, Texas. She attended Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas where she received a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in Chemistry. Ms. Wenah is currently a JD/MPA candidate with an emphasis in International Developmental Administration at Texas Southern University, Thurgood Marshall School of Law and the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs. In addition, Ms. Wenah participated in a Summer Study Abroad Program at the University of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania. Ms. Wenah is a legal fellow at the National Aeronautics Space Administration where she works on intellectual property and educating K-12 students in the STEM Fields. Ms. Wenah currently serves impoverished and low-income housing communities in the realm of education and plans to integrate this desire into her practice of law.  Kelly McNichols, originally from Kansas City, Missouri, received her Bachelor of Arts in French and Communication Studies and Master of Public Administration from University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is currently a second-year law student at Georgetown University Law Center where she is specializing in international development, human rights, and criminal justice. Kelly has been a member of Georgetown Human Rights Action’s Fact-Finding and Africa Committees and is a volunteer translator in the Center for Applied Legal Studies. Kelly has interned with The Rebecca Project for Human Rights to combat child sex trafficking and is currently interning with Human Rights Watch where she is monitoring civil and political rights in West Africa. This past summer, Kelly worked with Les Mêmes Droits Pour Tous in Conakry, Guinea where she helped to liberate prisoners held in illegal detention and interview torture victims. Prior to law school, Kelly spent four years as a consultant with Church Development, a national consulting firm providing fundraising and management consulting to NGOs and faithbased communities.  Keven Leveille is currently a third year Juris Doctorate candidate at Florida State University College of Law. Supplementing his legal education, Mr. Leveille is a member of the Public Interest Law Society, Advocates for Immigrants, the FSU Mock Trial Team and a committed member of the Delores Poindexter Auzenne Chapter of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA). His experience includes working with the Florida Department of Elder 6


2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. Haïti Report

Affairs within the Communities for a Lifetime Bureau as Volunteer and Intergenerational Specialist. Keven has also worked on many projects that directly impact Haitians, including an alternative spring break in 2010 where he assisted Haitians displaced by the devastating earthquake in applying for Temporary Protective Status (TPS) in the United States. 
  Michael Gilmore is from Detroit, Michigan. Michael graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics in 2009. During college, Michael raised funds to help promote higher education at the university. After college, Michael went on to attend the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law where he is currently in his third year. While in law school, Michael maintained his commitment to community service by engaging in a congressional internship with the Office of Congressman John Conyers (member of the Congressional Black Caucus) and the Project Solute veteran’s law clinical program at the University of Detroit Mercy School of law. Michael plans to remain committed to the community by practicing public interest law.  Dr. Robert T. Howard is a first-year law student at Notre Dame Law School. He is a former physician and educator who earned degrees from Hampton University and the University of Virginia. During law school he served as a first-year representative to the Intellectual Property Society and as a volunteer witness for the deposition skills course. During law school breaks, Robert remains active in community service programs through the Knights of Columbus in his native Virginia. He hopes to practice health care law in the area of medical malpractice defense or intellectual property law dealing with medical devices and pharmaceuticals.  Xakema Henderson is a first-year law student at the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder. Before attending law school, Xakema, a Texas native, joined Teach for America in 2009 and spent two years as a seventh grade teacher in southwest Houston. Her students excelled, achieving the school's highest passing rates on the state reading and writing tests in their grade level. In only her second year, Xakema was recognized as a leader on her campus, and served as both co-chair of her department and as a new-teacher mentor. Between teaching, she used her summers to work on staff with Teach for America, training more than 70 new teachers and preparing them for the upcoming school year. Xakema continues to be an advocate for students through volunteer work and attends law school with aspirations of extending access to justice to those who need it most.  Yvesner (EVE-NER) "Yves" Zamar was born in Suffern, New York, and hails from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He attended the Florida State University (FSU) as a Florida Bright Futures and Rotary Club Scholar. At FSU, he was an active member of the Student Government Association, Alpha Kappa Psi, Garnet & Gold Key Leadership Honorary and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. In 2006, he graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management. He is a second year law student at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of 7


2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. Haïti Report

Law (UDC-DCSL). Over the past year, he served as the National Historian for NBLSA and as a member of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, International. He is also a CLEO associate and interns at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of the Nation's Capital.

Our Truths We, the delegates for the 2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. Haïti service program, have all traveled from various walks of life. Our experiences range from those who were born in Haïti with stronger ties and a rich historical view of the island nation, to those not knowing much at all about the country until after the devastating 2010 earthquake. This variance has contributed to a divergence of beliefs, misconceptions and personal truths concerning Haïti. Upon our arrival, it was apparent that in addition to the clothing, toiletries, donations and other essentials we packed for our travel, we could not help but also pack and bring with us, those misconceptions and varied truths. Our truths ranged from the volatility of the socio-economic status of Haïti, to Haïti’s historic conflict with progression. Xakema Henderson states “prior to this trip, I must admit I had a rather shallow understanding of the intricate parts contributing to Haïti’s developmental regression, and my view was myopic at best.” Julie Wenah’s “truth” concerning the history of Haïti’s vulnerability was changed after speaking directly with the people of Haïti. Julie writes, “there is great misconception and deception regarding Haïti’s current state. One of the common misconceptions is that Haïti has always been in a state of despair and not in a position to selfsustain. Pre-colonialism, Haïti was not only surviving but was thriving.” Julie describes her first visit to Haïti as enlightening and life changing. Jerry Boies, on the other hand, is a native of Haïti but also brought with him deeply entrenched truths concerning her condition. He explains, “as a native of Haïti, I have traveled many times to the country in the past few years and had a particular view and understanding of my native land.” Referring to the Project Developer, Regine Theodat, who was with us everyday throughout the trip, Jerry continues, “however, I have never had an opportunity to really see Haïti through someone else’s eyes until this opportunity. To simply listen to someone else’s perspective in terms of how they view the people and country was remarkable. This experience for me was unique. For the first time in many years, I see Haitian people are hopeful in a brighter Haïti.” Jerry’s truth concerning Haïti, as well as many of our truths, evolved during this experience. This report, while providing our individual perspectives, is a collective effort to promote assistance for Haïti and her people. Despite the divergence in our perspectives going in and coming out of this program, there is something we all can agree on: Haïti needs help, and collectively, we can make a significant impact towards progress.

8


2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. Haïti Report

The Other Haïti The stories we often hear and see through various mediums often reveal the bleak conditions of what is very much a reality of Haïti. The media, reporting prior and subsequent to the 2010 earthquake, typically covers poor living conditions, corrupt politics and violence to name a few. However, the NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. Program has given each of us the opportunity to experience “the other Haïti.” This other side of Haïti, the less dark and dreary Haïti, is often not covered enough by the media. Gregory Marcelin spoke to this point saying “throughout our trip, I have witnessed, first hand, the country’s splendor, hidden beauties and warmth. Haïti is unfortunate in that a negative stigma clouds its name, masking the magnificence that is the Haitian culture.” Keven Leveille agreed stating “evident in the devastated Haïti was the representation of the human capacity to survive in the midst of the most unfavorable circumstances. Not only to survive, but to also be full of life, energy and a determination to overcome. This is simply the human kind way, and it was beautiful to see that in Haïti.” What we are calling “the other Haïti” is the understated beauty and wealth of not only the country, but the strength and tenacity of the people as well. Yvesner Zamar, who has traveled to Haïti in prior occasions, has shared his thoughts concerning this aspect of Haïti that is often lost or misplaced in related dialogue. He describes Haïti as a country of “tremendous talent, capability and potential. The biggest issue affecting Haïti is that it has been dismissed as an irreparable state. The problem concerning Haïti has not reached the point where Haïti has become a wasteland. While the capital city of Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas suffered dire harm during the earthquake, it did not destroy the whole country. Haïti is a country with an immense amount of beautiful lands that are cultivated for crops and for great vacation sites.” While notions of the problems permeating Haïti cannot be ignored, we also cannot afford to omit from the discussion that Haïti is yet beautiful. The struggle to reconcile Haïti’s hard problematic reality and its beauty is evident in the words of Dr. Robert T. Howard. Robert describes his experience as follows: “Upon entering Haïti an air space, I saw breathtaking mountains towering above endless rows of aluminum covered shacks. The streets of Port-auPrince seemed to be one continuous flea and farmer’s market filled with fresh fruits and Kenedi,1 the Creole word for donated clothes, which is usually sold in the open market. Across the street from the crumbled Presidential Palace lay a sea of tarp-covered shelters on the site of a once beautiful park. The sight of numerous shacks and enclaves of displaced persons can be overwhelming at first. However, the possibility for the recovery and advancement of Haïti may be found by interacting with the people who are on the ground making a positive difference.”

1

“Haitians call secondhand clothes pèpè, pronounced "peh-peh." In an earlier time these were called Twoomann [Truman] and Kenedi [Kennedy] because it was under those U.S. Presidents that Haitian tailors and shoemakers first began to see used T-shirts, sweaters, pants and sneakers dumped into the country.” Haitian Lament: Killing Me Softly, The Nation, Dan Coughlin, published February 11, 1999 see http://www.thenation.com/section/War?page=686, last visited January 20, 2012.

9


2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. Haïti Report

The Hard Reality In addition to discussing Haïti’s beauty and potential during our stay, we could not ignore the apparent issues Haïti continues to struggle with and through. Although we were all put on notice that we would be exposed to a hard reality upon arriving in Haïti, there is simply no substitute for being on the ground and witnessing it first-hand. Dominique de Vastey writes, “I was prepared for a very poor country, but the differences between places like Cité Soleil and Petionville shocked me. Haïti is a country that has plots of extreme poverty mixed with pockets of beautiful large homes.” Michael Gilmore shared similar sentiments stating “after visiting so much of the country, the extent of the deplorable poverty pervading Haïti was disheartening. My only confidence and justification for being optimistic despite the shocking state of Haïti comes from the numerous development projects I was able to see on the ground. These projects displayed the resilience and tenacity of the Haitian people.” We believe we can actively work individually and collectively with the Haitian people to begin to chip away at this massive hard reality.

Hope in Innovation The Haïti experience through NBLSA C.A.R.E.S Program was an emotional one for each of us. Each day and moment was filled with a different spirit, different highs and lows, a different energy. These moments range from witnessing the aggressiveness of the salesmen and women fighting to make a living, to seeing the light in the eyes of teens playing soccer in an open field and yet to the reality of the overwhelming amount of people displaced from their homes and living in tents as a result. We went from feelings of joy to sadness to concern and compassion. We became increasingly invested in Haïti’s condition and began searching for solutions. With the opportunity to visit several functioning Haitian businesses, it was clear that there is hope in innovation. Dominique writes, “I think that there is hope for Haïti. We saw many small businesses created because the Haitian people did not/could not rely on their government or the thousands of non-governmental agencies to assist them.” The people of Haïti seemed optimistic in terms of Haïti’s progress. Keven describes Haïti’s creativity as a resource ready to be harnessed. He states “We were able to see the talents of Haitian workers in an artisan village. We saw the skill of a husband and wife run a company creating hand sewn designer bags and artwork. We also saw the heart and pulse of entrepreneurship from business plans to create a pasta shop to farming and other small commerce. We saw Haitians are not necessarily looking for a hand out, but people ready to work and make a living for themselves.” At one point during the program, a discussion was sparked as to whether it was pointless to continue to invest and pump resources in what appeared to be such a broken state. However, after seeing the people of Haïti give so much of themselves to their cause, we too have hope for Haïti.

10


2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. Haïti Report

Projects on the Ground  Hands Together Cooperative: “One of the most inspiring projects was the Hands Together Cooperative. Originally designed as a women’s cooperative, this group of men and women living in Camp Golf set up a forty-person jewelry cooperative. Each day, groups of ten meet in a common area of the camp and cut paper from whatever they can find—beer boxes, cereal boxes, etc. Then, in an artisanal fashion, they wrap the paper into balls that are then strung to create handmade necklaces, earrings and bracelets. In order to market their products, they take pictures of the pieces and email them to people they know. When a piece is sold, the person who made the piece receives a portion of the proceeds and a portion goes back into the cooperative. This group’s project received financing through Zafèn and the entire loan has been repaid. They are currently looking for ways to increase their marketing.” ~ Kelly McNichols This project was the most inspirational as a few young women developed an idea that appeared to be a source of hope for many people living in this tent city. People were eager to be a part of the collective. ~ Dominique de Vastey  Ramase Lagan: “Among the projects that we visited during our stay was the Ramase Lagan project in Cité Soleil. Ramase Lagan means gathering/picking up money in Haitian Creole. This project allows residents of Cité Soleil to be paid per pound for all plastics they gather and bring to their local Ramase Lagan recycling site. There, the plastics are flattened and assembled together to be delivered to Haïti’s official recycling center where they are then sold to Canada and different U.S. States. The site can be purchased as a franchise by a local citizen who follows the appropriate application process. In addition, it can be purchased and placed in a community by an outside individual or entity. This project made the biggest impression on me because of its tangible nature. You can see the amount of garbage in the form of plastic and aluminum that is being collected and you can see the local residents being rewarded for it. The money provides incentive for the residents to work hard to clean up the streets and rid them of garbage—an issue that Haïti has been dealing with for decades. This, in turn, will provide for cleaner streets, a healthier environment and money to poor residents who otherwise would not be receiving any form of monetary compensation. Lastly, because this aid comes in the form of a franchise, all transactions—from the amount of plastic being collected to the amount of compensation being given—are recorded. This will allow any owner or donor to track their progress and actually see the fruits of their labor.” ~ Gregory Marcelin “I would have never imagined that a recycled freight container and trash compactor could do so much for a community. It employed not only the people who worked within the facility but also gave members of the community economic incentives to improve their community. Moreover, these reasons coupled with the necessity for environmental relief made this project not only practical but necessary. The recycling center gave the Haitian citizens a tangible and immediate reason to clean up their community and in turn decrease public health hazards.” ~ Michael Gilmore

11


2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. Haïti Report

 Build Change: The project that impressed me the most was Build Change. This is an organization that trains engineers to teach construction workers, as well as the people of Haïti, how to build earthquake resistant homes. This method of “Helping Haitians Help Haitians” is the very fundamental characteristic that is necessary in building Haïti’s economy to a state of sustainability. Build Change is the model organization for laying down the fundamental steps in creating the rubric that is necessary in assisting Haïti to build its economy. ~ Julie Wenah  Chemen Lavi Miyò: The project that intrigued me the most was Chemen Lavi Miyò (Pathway to a Better Life). Chemen Lavi Miyò was an amazing project that uses $1,500 USD over 18 months to help the poorest people reestablish themselves. Each assisted family is given someone that is the equivalent of a case worker to help the family assimilate themselves in society and reach self-sustainability. The goal is achieved by giving the family small assets such as farm animals and assisting them with projects such as building a small home. ~ Yvesner Zamar  St. Vincent DePaul Camp: The St. Vincent DePaul Camp temporarily houses people in Tabarre while they rebuild their homes and has built schools so that children and adults may learn marketable skills to provide themselves with long-term income. ~ Dr. Robert T. Howard The concept behind the project is to educate the community while providing jobs. The community is required to use their building skills to build their homes and schools to educate their children. The elders, often lacking formal education, are able to give their children the necessary skills in order to advance them further than their parents. ~ Xakema Henderson  Daughters of Charity: The Daughters of Charity in Marin run a school for Restavek children (child servants) and a nearby center that provides meals and activities for senior citizens, a pharmacy, and a medical clinic. Each day 250 patients receive treatment and prescriptions in the clinic for a fee of $1.25 US. ~ Dr. Robert T. Howard

Haïti Moving Forward The question is how do we move forward in a way that would bring about long-term socio-economic impact in Haïti? In keeping with the Haitian national motto “L’Union fait la force” (unity makes strength), NBLSA and the international community must join with the legal community and organizations in Haïti to protect local businesses and “foster legal work in the areas of intellectual property rights, contracts, and human rights that could shape a business culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, and accountability,” says Dr. Robert T. Howard. Our experience in Haïti made it apparent that there is not a shortage of organizations providing relief on the ground. Additionally, the Haitian Constitution, as written, has probably afforded more fundamental rights to the Haitian people than many constitutions around the world. What is really needed is the enforcement of the laws and a system where the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operate effectively to better serve the Haitian people. Moving forward, 12


2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. Haïti Report

NBLSA and the international community should involve leveraging Haïti’s current resources while promoting the enforcement of existing legal protections.

NBLSA and Haïti’s Legal Community The delegation for the 2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. Haïti service program had an opportunity to sit down with Maitre Chalemagne Michel, a judge in Mirebalais, a town approximately 30 miles northeast of Port-au-Prince. The purpose of the meeting was not only to understand aspects of the legal system in Haïti but to also engage in meaningful dialogue about possible strategies for assistance. The discussion with Judge Michel brought to light opportunities for NBLSA to work with the Haitian legal community. As a result, Keven recommends chartering a NBLSA chapter in Haïti. At the very least, Keven recommends “NBLSA should create legal clinics with the goal of partnering with law students and others in Haïti’s legal community to sift through strategic and tactical solutions for Haïti’s condition.” Such a partnership”, he continues, “would provide NBLSA with on-the-ground strategic partners who can help us shape our involvement in a way to provide long-term socio-economic impact, especially in the areas of advocacy for human rights and education.” The struggle to devise a comprehensive plan outlining how NBLSA will have the greatest impact in Haïti will be a tough one. Nonetheless, the following recommendations may serve as a guide based on our observations. NBLSA should partner with law schools in Haïti to further the rule of law. In addition, Dominique recommends that “NBLSA should take the lead in connecting with the young Haitian legal community in order to develop a legal framework that will assist Haitians in creating businesses, encouraging government accountability, and providing essential services for themselves.” Practically, NBLSA, with the help of our partners in Haïti, can practically assist Haitians with business formation and understanding their rights under Haitian laws. In order to nurture the partnership between the Haitian law students, who will become lawyers and allies, NBLSA can financially support one to three Haitian law students by paying their required fee to pay a licensed lawyer mentor to supervise and approve the satisfactory completion of the thesis. The completion of this thesis is a prerequisite to the practice of law for Haitian law students. It is like the equivalent of the bar application fee in the United States. While a law student in the U.S. may have different means to pay for the bar application, the Haitian law students’ options are very limited. Generally, if the students cannot afford this fee, their years of law study would go to waste. Through an application process, NBLSA can sponsor one to three students a year. The goal would be to maintain a continued strategic partnership between NBLSA and the future Haitian attorneys.

Too Much International Help? Comparing the media coverage of the devastation of Haïti after the 2010 earthquake to when we arrived in Haïti two years later, made it clear that the Haitian people and the “international community had made some important progress in removing rubble and in building 13


2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. Haïti Report

homes,” says Kelly. After “visiting many projects that empowered Haitians to invest in Haïti, we were inspired to see the resilience and innovation of the Haitian people,” she continues. Nonetheless, the weaknesses within the international development community were equally apparent. The tough question to answer is whether or not the international community is helping Haïti too much? In “helping Haïti too much” we are referring to altruistic support that is counterproductive in effect. In some cases, the NGOs although with great intentions, have been unsuccessful in helping the Haitian people in a manner that is effective and sustainable. For example, as Yvesner points out, “an NGO may provide free or low cost medication for an entire community with hopes of helping Haïti. However, such generosity can lead and has led to pharmacies, pharmacists, their employees and in certain cases, doctors losing their jobs. In this scenario, while the NGO may be serving the needs of many, that same NGO is increasing the unemployment rate in that same community. Among other examples, the ineffectiveness of NGOs is evident where they have duplicated identical or similar projects in the same community. We recognize that stating the problem is easier than finding the appropriate solution. However, in our conversations with the people of Haïti, there seems to be a recurring consensus of the lack of coordination by both the Haitian government and the NGOs. Most foreign aid to Haïti is executed by NGOs and the Haitian private sector without the involvement of the Haitian government or a thorough assessment of the communities’ needs. Kelly affirms that “the development of Haïti will most likely be successful when all actors find their place, lay aside their agendas and work within a coordinated effort.” Moving forward, it is imperative that the international community understands the needs of each specific community in Haïti and engages the Haitian government in a concerted effort to rebuild Haïti. Every NGO should be part of the puzzle to resolve the needs of the Haitian people. The people in the community should be involved in the decision-making process to determine the most pressing needs. Of course, that would require flexibility on the part of some NGOs to change either their original plan or the community they originally intended to serve. Ultimately, such flexibility will further most NGOs’ missions, which are to help the Haitian people, to once again see a vibrant Haïti , and to leave sustainable projects for years to come.

Special Thanks to our Trip Leaders The extent of your contributions toward making this experience meaningful and life changing cannot be expressed in words. Regine Theodat and Desiree Wayne: know you are greatly appreciated. ~ Delegation for the 2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. Haïti service program. REGINE THEODAT, ESQ:

14


2012 NBLSA C.A.R.E.S. Haïti Report

Regine Theodat is the Project Director for the Vincentian Family Worldwide in Haïti. Although Regine was raised in the United States, she maintained a deep connection to Haïti after her parents decided to move the family to the United States in 1986. This connection facilitated her relocation to Haïti in 2010. In Regine's first year working in Haïti she worked with the staff of a small nonprofit to launch one of the first full-service human rights offices in a slum. The office addressed various violations of human rights, e.g. inadequate housing, voting rights and access to sanitation. In her current capacity at the Vincentian Family, Regine seeks and develops projects in Haïti that impact sustainability including primary and secondary education scholarships and microfinancing for small and medium-sized businesses. Regine completed her undergraduate studies at Simmons College in Boston, where she studied Political Science and Managerial Marketing. She is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, where she was a Teaching Fellow for both a project developing a plan of implementation for decreasing barriers to entry for minority-owned small businesses and a Constitutional Know Your Rights Literacy Course for high-school students in Hyde Park, MA. Prior to moving back to Haïti, Regine practiced at a medium-sized law firm in complex criminal and civil law. DESIREE WAYNE, ESQ: Desiree Wayne, ESQ, holds a degree in History & Diplomacy from Georgetown University and received her law degree from the University of Houston Law Center and is licensed to practice law in Texas and Alabama. She also holds a certificate in non-profit management from the LaSalle University School of Business. Ms. Wayne is currently the Associate Director of Programs for the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians. Her responsibilities include managing the Welcoming Center's legal activities, including monthly legal clinics; supervising and providing training center support services; and ensuring programmatic and staff compliance with funder requirements. Prior to joining the Welcoming Center team, Ms. Wayne provided immigration legal services to the refugee and asylum clients of Lutheran Family Services of Colorado. She has been committed to informing Americans of the desperate poverty in Haïti, most recently as Executive Director of the Lamp For Haïti, Inc. and as the chief prosecutor for the International Tribunal on Haïti. She was also a criminal prosecutor in Harris County, Texas.

15


2012 Haiti Service Trip Report