The Haiti Support Project
Pilgrimage and Assessment Delegation
October 7-11, 2010
Statement by Dr. Ron Daniels, President, Institute of the Black World 21st Century, Founder, Haiti Support Project
October 7-11, the Haiti Support Project (HSP) will lead its third Delegation to Haiti since the disastrous earthquake. This reflects our ongoing commitment to stand with our Haitian sisters and brothers in this hour of grave national crisis. Indeed, HSP is no stranger to the Haitian people. 2010 marks the fifteenth anniversary of the founding of HSP. Over the years we have organized numerous delegations to Haiti and supported a range of humanitarian and developmental projects and initiatives throughout the country.
This visit will include our annual Pilgrimage to the town of Milot near Cap Haitien in the northern region of the country to tour the magnificent Citadel and Sans Souci Palace. This aspect of our visit is in support of our Model City Initiative which is designed to transform the lovely town of Milot into a Mecca for cultural-historical tourism as the foundation for people based economic development. Our goal is to expose African Americans and friends of Haiti from the U.S. to the history, culture and heritage of Haiti by visiting one of the great monuments to freedom and self-determination in the world. We encourage every person of African descent and friend of Haiti to visit the Citadel at least once in a lifetime!
As part of the Pilgrimage, each year HSP contributes a large quantity of school supplies to the Conseil de Reflexion pour le Développement de Milot (CRDM), the development committee of Milot, to enable hundreds of children to attend school. Scholarships are also provided for a select number of students. Last year HSP allocated funds to start a modest micro-credit lending program. This year we are making a grant from the HSP Haiti Relief Fund for CRDM to launch a cash-for-work jobs training and civic education project to employ scores of young people. This project will be operated in consultation with ISPAN.
In addition to the tour of the Citadel, the Delegation will consult with CRDM, officials of the government and the private sector about the impact of the earthquake to determine what additional resources are required to meet the needs of the influx of displaced residents from Port Au Prince. HSP made an emergency contribution from the Haiti Relief Fund immediately after the earthquake to provide food and essential supplies to displaced persons and in collaboration with the Joe Beasley Foundation facilitated a shipment of medical supplies and equipment to Sacred Heart Hospital.
Beyond Cap Haitien and Milot, the Delegation will survey the damage in Port Au Prince and the Central Plateau, meet leaders and residents of affected communities, Ministers of Government and leaders from the private sector and civil society. The Delegation will also receive a briefing at the U.S. Embassy. The objective of the assessment is to receive updates on the progress of the relief, recovery and reconstruction effort. We are especially interested in gauging the progress of the Oasis Institute, an initiative started by Lionel Pressoir and Destination Haiti Foundation to provide a safe environment, counseling and a quality education for eight hundred to a thousand children made orphans by the earthquake. HSP views the Oasis Institute as a model that could potentially be incorporated into government social welfare policy. Therefore, fulfilling the vision/mission of the Oasis Institute is a major priority of HSP [we made a grant to Oasis Institute during our visit in May].
Beside contributions/grants in Milot, HSP will provide an additional grant to the SEEDS Project of the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) to assist farmers to purchase seeds to plant their crops, and an initial grant to the Mouvement d´Unite de la Communate Par I´integration (MUCI) for a job training and civic education project. These grants will bring the total contributed to grassroots/community based organizations by HSP from the Haiti Relief Fund to $92,000.
The assessment will also focus on business/investment opportunities as part of the Haitian Economic Empowerment Initiative HSP has established with the Joe Beasley Foundation. The Joe Beasley Foundation is also collaborating with HSP on an extraordinary initiative — Pilgrimage of Hope: a Cruise for Conscious People Committed to Rebuild Haiti – a humanitarian, cultural enrichment and economic empowerment experience that seeks to bring 2,300 people to Haiti October 3-10, 2011 aboard Royal Caribbean´s Majesty of the Seas. HSP will launch a major media/marketing campaign upon our return to the U.S. to make this ambitious initiative a reality. We hope the Government of Haiti and the private sector will be supportive of this powerful Initiative.
Finally, like previous HSP visits this year, it is our hope that this Delegation will serve as a vehicle to shine a spotlight on the tremendous struggle of the Haitian people to restore their families and reconstruct the nation despite enormous obstacles. We believe Haiti´s greatest asset is the strength and resiliency of its people, whose ideas and energy must be harnessed if we are to witness the emergence of a new Haiti. The people must be included in the process. The Haitian people should know that HSP is a staunch ally that will continue to mobilize humanitarian and development assistance in the U.S. while vigorously advocating that our government honor its commitments to help Haiti rebuild better and stronger.
L´Union Fait La Force!