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EDEM NEWS

SPRING 2015

EDEM NEWS Printemps 2015 | Nouvelles d’EDEM | Ile-a-Vache, Haiti

EDEM’s Mission EDEM Foundation is a nonprofit organization supporting the education of children and delivering community-based, i n t e g rat e d , a n d s u s t a i n a b l e development assistance to Southern Haiti by partnering with local communities, municipalities, and international institutions. EDEM is Haitian Kreyol for Help Me.

From Patrick Lucien, Founder

Greetings and welcome to EDEM Foundation’s second newsletter. Let us thank first the generous donors and organizations who have partnered with us over the past few years, and welcome new partners such as Elevate Destinations, a world-renowned tour company, which is committing to bring volunteer groups to Ile-aVache to work alongside the community.

Rebuilding Haiti 200 jobs at a Time A few weeks ago, Mr. Denis O’Brien, founder of Digicel, opened a new Marriott Hotel in Turgeau, a suburb of Port-au-Prince. It is a sign that foreign investors are beginning to trust the business environment in Haiti, but also a testimony to Mr. O’Brien’s personal courage. His foundation, the Digicel Foundation, opened its 150th school in Haiti last year. At the opening ceremony, Denis O’Brien proudly acknowledged that the new Marriott is creating over 200 new jobs and that the produce served its guests will be sourced mostly in Haiti. Mr. O’Brien is not only taking a risk in the hospitality sector but also in the agricultural sector; he is giving the opportunity to some 100 farmers in Haiti to build a better life for themselves. In a quick aside Mr. O’Brien expressed indignation toward the situation of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic and asserted openly that he would not invest a penny in the DR because of the reprehensible treatment of Haitians in this neighboring nation. While $45 million to build a hotel may be out of reach for most Haitian investors, Denis O’Brien’s

Credit: Marriott, Haiti

EDEM Foundation is a Project of United Charitable Programs, Inc., a Registered 501(c) (3) Public Charity PhotoCredit:VBS Photography

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EDEM NEWS

As the newsletter will make clear, EDEM’s main focus is economic empowerment. We will showcase developments undertaken over the past few years and illustrate their impact on the community; and describe E D E M ’s re c e n t v e n t u re — entrepreneurial training provided with the support of the Digicel Foundation. Our work has spurred increased interest in local entrepreneurship, business development, and economic empowerment. These will remain our core issues for 2015. Please join us and help us expand new opportunities for the youth, women and men on the island of Ile-a-Vache. J e a n Pa t r i c k L u c i e n l i v e s i n Massachusetts and is the founder of Ile-a-Vache Development Group www.iavdg.com which o p e rat e s t h e Va c at i o n V i l l a g e resort. He is also the founder and d i r e c t o r o f E D E M Fo u n d a t i o n www.edem2.org

SPRING 2015

venture is an inspiration to all of us. What would it take for us to create opportunities for another 200 Haitians in Haiti and prevent them from moving to the DR, the Bahamas, or from risking their lives at sea trying to reach the coast of Miami? Could there be other ventures that Haitians could tap in to keep 200 more Haitians at home? There certainly are. Our people mostly live in rural Haiti. They are content living a life where they can continue their education, provide for themselves, remain out of debt, send their kids to school, and enjoy a community sharing basic amenities such as water, electricity, and sanitation. What make us the vibrant nation that we are are not the material things we own but the love we have for life and the love we share for each other. Allow us to use our own personal experience in the beautiful island of Ile-aVache and inspire the many who are not able to tap into millions. In 2009, a group of friends in the Diaspora, mainly from Boston, decided to invest and develop an eco-resort on the island. Following the Januar y 2010 earthquake, the group enlarged its vision to include, beyond the resort, other sustainable ventures that would keep young people on the island and provide opportunities for women, who are at the heart of the local economy. Construction on the resort began right away. Max Theodore, my business partner, Jean Sauny Pierre, a local leader, and I developed business plans based on social ventures suggested by local entrepreneurs. Within a year we were able to open our resort, Village Vacances, with the support of Diaspora investors and friends from the US. Today Village Vacances employs 11 people. We have also opened a bakery, Boulangerie du Village, which employs 7 people and provides bread to 22 resellers; established in partnership with local women a microcredit program, Banque du Village, providing loans to 100 women; a poultry farm and a number of small businesses in partnership with local young entrepreneurs. In addition we support the education of 135 children through our local school, Ecole du Village, with a staff of 9 people. Our entrepreneurial efforts do not stop here. We recently invited the organization Etre Ayisyen to train 15 trainers; these people in turn will go out and teach new skills to local business leaders and educate youth in entrepreneurship. This program was made possible by Denis O’Brien and his Digicel Foundation.

EDEM Foundation is a Project of United Charitable Programs, Inc., a Registered 501(c) (3) Public Charity

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EDEM NEWS

SPRING 2015

At this time, more than 200 people are directly and indirectly benefiting from those activities. We are making every effort to ensure that they not be tempted to move away but, rather, remain invested in their own community. There are enough of us, Haitians at home, Haitians in Diaspora, friends from everywhere, able to invest in Haiti. Let us give people a chance to enjoy a decent life in their own country; and for us in the Diaspora, to take the opportunity to build a retirement niche for ourselves and to return home to share in and enjoy our new Ayiti Cherie. Jean-Patrick Lucien

Women Leading the Way …………………………… It’s market day in Haiti, the streets are p a c ke d w i t h p e o p l e . Fr u i t a n d vegetables create an array of bright colors at the local market. Everyone is trying to grab the best grapefruits, mangoes and avocados available. Have you realized that the majority of sellers and buyers are women? That’s right! Women are at the center of the economy at the local market and it is no different in Ile-a-Vache. Some eight years ago a group of women on the island decided to join forces to become more resourceful. As the song sung at their monthly meetings says: “if we put our heads together, it’s because we want to strengthen ourselves. Si w wè nou met tèt ansanm, se fòs nap chache.” The name of the group is KOFASI (Konbit Fanm nan Sid, Ile-a- Vache or Gathering of the Women of the South, Ile-a-Vache), originally an offshoot from a larger women’s organization on the mainland. KOFASI has been led by Julaine Bellaire since its inception. Madame Bellaire, a local businesswoman and mother of two, vowed to defend the rights of women and help them become self-sufficient. The group now counts some 200 members, involved in various committees and activities around the island. EDEM Foundation partnered with KOFASI in 2010, helping the group initiate new ventures by linking them to other non-profit organizations and social entrepreneurs. Among these ventures are the manufacture of hot sauce and the management of a wholesale store; but the flagship project of KOFASI is the microcredit program initiated in 2010 with the support of the Ile-a-Vache Development Group. The microcredit program was established and is entirely managed by the women themselves: it was they who set up their method of repayment and the rate of interest based on the capacity of the members of the

EDEM Foundation is a Project of United Charitable Programs, Inc., a Registered 501(c) (3) Public Charity

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EDEM NEWS

SPRING 2015

group. Today about 100 women have expanded their businesses or opened new ones thanks to the loans they have received from, and proudly repaid, without default, to the microcredit program. Julaine Bellaire acknowledges that the program has helped women become more accountable: it teaches them responsibility and skills they would not learn if the program was managed by an outside entity. “We are learning to be in charge and to operate our own program rather than simply be clients of an institution,” says she. “And we thank all those who have trusted us with their money and will make sure they are proud of doing business with us.” GRAHN, a Haitian think tank organization with branches all over the world, recently awarded Julaine Bellaire the title of Entrepreneur Madame Sarah of 2015 for her leadership. You can listen to the testimony of some KOFASI loan recipients in this Youtube video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nu9wibbKfuk KOFASI continues to grow in membership and hopes to see more partners join the organization and its activities on the island. To this end three members of KOFASI recently attended an entrepreneurship Train the Trainer program organized by EDEM. The trainers, in turn, will assist other women in starting and operating their own businesses. EDEM would like to thank Digicel Foundation and Etre Ayisyen for their support of KOFASI and for helping women remain the stronghold of the rural economy.

Made in Ile-a-Vache …………………………… It’s no secret that any society or community that can develop the basic goods it consumes daily has a better chance of managing its economy. While it may seem simplest for a reseller to just acquire goods wholesale and to bring them to market, even at a slim profit margin, if one takes the risk of producing the goods, the profit will grow exponentially and the community will be able to keep wealth local while opening doors for others. In 2012 Jean-Patrick Lucien, founder of EDEM, had a long discussion with KOFASI, a local women’s group in Ile-a-Vache. On this occasion, members reflected on their economic activities and on their struggle to improve profit margins since many of them were resellers. The conversation shifted to local production of goods, such as hot sauce, peanut butter and jams. The women acknowledged that they would gladly take the risk of producing those goods if only they had the proper

EDEM Foundation is a Project of United Charitable Programs, Inc., a Registered 501(c) (3) Public Charity

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EDEM NEWS

SPRING 2015

Vacations with a Mission You probably have heard a lot of talk about tourism making a comeback in Haiti and if you have followed the news, you know that Ile-a-Vache is now considered a prime tourism destination. EDEM and Vacation Village have developed a different kind of tourism in Ile-a-Vache, focusing on giving visitors a lifetime experience. For the past 5 years, EDEM has partnered with universities, tour companies and organizations, bringing in volunteers, high school and college students to experience the beauty of the island and to partake in the development and sustainability of its beauty.  Parents such as Michelle Campbell and Ines Lozano feel these vacations have enlarged their kids’ perspective on the world.  Let us let some of the visitors tell us about their own trip to the island, the work they have done and why they continue to support EDEM’s work in Ile-a-Vache. From Michelle Campbell My daughter and I spent an incredible week on Ile-a-Vache in July 2014. We traveled with a group from Elevate Destinations, which organized the trip in partnership with Edem Foundation. While others in our group worked with young adults, my daughter and I spent the week with children age 4 to 12, working on basic English skills, creating art and just having fun with games and swimming. It was a beautiful way to learn about Haitian culture and realize that we are all global citizens with a responsibility for each other.  I would love to return to Ile-a-Vache to learn more about Edem Foundation’s projects that are empowering local citizens to realize their dreams of becoming self-sustaining.

training. The exchange can be viewed on this Youtube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nu9wibbKfuk Fast forward to 2013, when EDEM invited Agronomist Rosner Denis Gedeon to start one of many trainings on the island, teaching KOFASI women how to market, produce, and sell their own products. Monsieur Gedeon, who studied in the Caribbean, has a deep understanding of local markets and has been training youth throughout Haiti on the production of hot sauce, mayonnaise, and other goods. He spent one week on the island teaching women at first to do market studies. They visited local businesses, hotels, and markets and surveyed people on the need for local products. Later, the women took time to project the cost of producing a hot sauce based on the local pepper, Piman Bouk. After analyzing the data, they were ready to produce the new hot sauce named Flanm, the Creole word for flame. With support from EDEM, Ile-a-Vache Development Group, and EDEM’s Founder, Jean-Patrick Lucien, the campaign was launched and Flanm was marketed to local hotels and resellers throughout the island. Today 12 women members of KOFASI are the proud entrepreneurs and partners in this new venture, having started their own hot sauce business.They vow to kick imported hot sauces out of the island and to expand the market onto the mainland. An excerpt of the introduction of the hot sauce to the community can be seen on this Youtube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSwI9ZZGU6k&feature=youtu.be

Upcoming Partners Trips …………………………… Elevate Destinations, a leader in eco luxury travel creating new ways for travelers to make a difference worldwide, is organizing their second trip to Ile-a-Vache this summer in partnership with EDEM Foundation and Vacation Village Resort. Many of Elevate Destinations travelers were inspired by their visit last year and have remained committed to support the work of EDEM. For more info, visit www.elevatedestinations.com Flying High for Haiti http://www.flyinghighforhaiti.com organizes trips to Ile-a-Vache focusing on volunteer work, adventure and tourism. Volunteers have the opportunity to participate in school projects, immerse themselves in Haitian culture and explore beautiful island sights. It is truly an eyeopening experience! Anyone who loves to travel and wants to make a d i f f e r e n c e i s w e l c o m e . C o n t a c t In e s L o z a n o , Pr e s i d e n t , a t InesLozano@FlyingHighForHaiti.com

Credit:VBSPhotography

EDEM Foundation is a Project of United Charitable Programs, Inc., a Registered 501(c) (3) Public Charity

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EDEM NEWS

SPRING 2015

I would like to experience Ecole du Village when school is in session and visit the farm projects. But I would also like to enjoy more of the island, relaxing on the beaches, exploring the interior and appreciating the hospitality at Village Vacances. From Simon Kvilhaug, a graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy I am forever grateful for the time I was able to spend on Ile-a-Vache.  Working with the EDEM Foundation gave me the opportunity to do something meaningful during my college years.  My time in Haiti opened my eyes to a world I had no idea existed.  I am very proud of the important work my team and I did there and the island has so much to offer! The people there welcomed us with open arms and made us feel like a part of their community.  I made friends on Ile-a-Vache with whom I have maintained contact for years after my last visit. I miss the people, and I miss the land. Waking up every morning in Kakoc, only feet from the beach, with a crystal clear view across the bay to the coastline of Les Cayes and the mountains of southern Haiti in the background, often made me feel that what we were trying to accomplish was less like work and more like a vacation.  Vacation Village certainly lives up to its name.  Some days were hard; there is no doubt about that. But it was more than worth it.  I would encourage anyone with the opportunity to visit, to do so. I have maintained contact with students at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy who are preserving the tradition I started in 2011 and 2012, and keeping up the good work on Ile-a-Vache.  I am proud of what they are doing, and to be honest, a little jealous.  I hope to return one day and see how far the island has come, and visit with old friends.

Photographer Simon Russell simonrussellphotography.net is a Football (Soccer) aficionado. Simon is organizing the 5th annual Ile-a-Vache Kids Soccer Tournament and generously proposes to support the tournament by the sale of his book Ile-a-Vache, the Pearl of the Antilles. $10 of the sale of each book will go directly to the soccer program. Preview and purchase this beautiful book online at http://www.blurb.com/b/5030897-ile-a-vache In addition to the tournament Simon will be working this year on creating academic and sport scholarships, and on developing youth business incentives centered on the soccer program. Once again, in January 2016, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy will take their USTS KENNEDY ship on a trip to the Caribbean. It will make a stop at Ile-a-Vache, bringing equipment and humanitarian goods to various organizations on the island. EDEM will coordinate with Professor Thomas Lennon, who has been leading this initiative since 2010, and will assist with logistics and delivery of the goods. To learn more about the work of MMA and EDEM, visit http://tmcenro6.wix.com/mass-maritime-haiti

Credit: Mass Maritime Academy

Credit: Simon Russell

Please Invest in our Efforts We are thankful to all people and organizations who have partnered with us in the past and who have visited and worked in ile-a-Vache. If you are an organization, a school or individual looking to start a new partnership or willing to explore a new world, we encourage you to consider this beautiful island. EDEM will work with you throughout the process. Help the women of KOFASI expand opportunities to other members of their community by investing in the Village Bank.  Contact info@iavdg.com Contribute supplies and school materials. Massachusetts Maritime Academy is ready to carry goods over to Ile-a-Vache in January 2016. Collect now and contact us at contact@edem2.org Make a monetary contribution online by going to www.edem2.org and click on the yellow donate link; if you prefer, send a check to EDEM, P.O. Box 3313, Framingham, MA 01705

Credit: Mass Maritime Academy

We can be reached at anytime at contact@edem2.org

EDEM Foundation is a Project of United Charitable Programs, Inc., a Registered 501(c) (3) Public Charity

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Edem newsletter 2015  

EDEM FOUNDATION 2015 NEWSLETTER

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