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#1967: Re: #1951: Reliable Organizations? Petersen comments

From: Ingegerd N Petersen <inp.ry@ci.kk.dk>

To Janine, Rogers, Tetgren and others.

In response to your recent posts about how to DO something for Haiti, I
think that all the ideas on Janine Genevieve's list are relevant,
simple, and possible. Some time ago someone suggested sponsoring a
child's education, a school or an NGO. The current exchange of views
seems to be a follow up on that discussion.

I will concentrate on 1) Give even a small financial support to a
reliable project in Haiti.

Indeed it would be a very good idea to support some of the small NGOs
which devote large amounts of energy, time, and money out of their own
pockets to do something useful in Haiti.  As I see it, the advantage of
supporting a small NGO is that your money can easily be accounted for;
there is no magouille. The money goes where it's supposed to go, i.e. of
course, if you can find a  reliable organization to support. As
co-administrator of one such very small NGO, I speak from my own
experience about our organization and the problems we face. There are
many NGOs like us who constantly have to worry about finding the
sufficient financial support to keep working.

In spring 98, I responded to a note on this list asking for a volunteer.
interpreter for a teacher-training seminar for two weeks in July. The
program was called Project Teach (please go to
http://www.connect.to/Haiti for more information),and this was the first
seminar to be held.

The Canadian (Haitian born) director had gathered a handful of highly
qualified friends and friends of friends, all teachers, to go to
St.-Michel de l'Attalaye. The program in short consisted of lessons in
French, Maths, Science, physical education, teaching methodology, and
children's rights. A Haitian/American NGO had taken the financial
responsibility for part of the program by covering the expenses for
food, accommodation, and transportation for the team
(Canadian/American/Danish) while in Haiti. Also, they had taken care of
the inscription of participants, and even managed to offer a hot meal to
everyone at noon. I'll spare you all the complications and ordeals
(there were many, believe me), but I can tell you that although we lived
and worked under very primitive conditions, the seminar, which had the
participation 250 Haitian teachers, was a complete and resounding
success for everyone.

The director and I (now Deputy Director) returned in December with a new
team to teach another 250 teachers who had turned up in vain in July.
Again we were sponsored by the same NGO. And one of the best moments was
when participants from the July seminar turned up to tell us how the
input we had given them had changed their teaching and their attitude to
the children. They were very proud and happy.

In July 99 Project Teach set up camp in Milot, sponsored as before, only
this time for some reason the promised meal for which our sponsor NGO
was responsible never materialized. The program was again very
successful, but the participants went hungry at noon. Many spent their
last money to come by taptap to Milot every day from as far as Limb.
Many came on an empty stomack, and we could do nothing. I hope we'll
never be in that situation again.

The seminar in July this year will be in Les Cayes. But this time the
support from our current sponsor has been drastically reduced, not
because the NGO had lost faith in our program, but because it is a
Baptist organization, and the teachers they had signed up for the
seminars were 80% their own people, whereas it is imperial to us that
the seminar serve a broad segment of the Haitian population. The fact
that neither of  our staff lives in Haiti has made it impossible to
avoid that kind of nepotism, but with the help of a Haitian teacher who
has volunteered to take care of the inscription according to the
criterea we have given, this time we hope to have a broader

On the administrative side setting up the two week seminar is a job that
keeps us occupied throughout the year, and it's naturally more demanding
now that our sponsor for this year only offers little financial support.
It takes time to find volunteer teachers.Then there is the problem of
finding a place to set up the next seminar, and of negociating a
reasonable price, maintaining  our webpage (which cost endless hours to
design, however primitive it is, and which is only on the web because
the network administrator at my school volunteered his time and hosts us
on his server), collecting school material to distribute, and most of
all the sleepless nights trying to figure out where to find the money.
At this point, we don't have it for this year's seminar. The best thing
that could happen to us would be financial support of the kind you have
mentioned, however small,  as well as donations of school material such
as pencils, paper, rulers, erasers, posters etc.etc. Many of the
teachers we work with don't have any of these.

What we ask of our volunteer team is that they pay their own way to
Haiti, as well as all off-program excursions etc. Each volunteer has to
prepare his/her lessons, prepare printed teaching material, and bring
copies for all the participants. What the volunteers get in return is an
experience for life, guaranteed. You come back a richer person.

So to all of you who want to do something, but don't know what or how,
one possibility would be to support one of the small projects like
Project Teach which run on a very small budget when you consider the
amount of people they touch and the positive effect they have in various
fields, be it education or health or something else. Many of us are
totally dependent on support from private individuals or other NGOs.

I know for my own part that working with Haitian colleagues is one of
the most meaningful and rewarding things I've done in my life. I
volunteer my time, my energy, and my holidays, that is my current
support. Even if you prefer to stay on the sideline, there are plenty of
ways you can offer yours, and it is greatly needed.

Ingegerd Nissen Petersen