Boniou is Creole for hello, and this will allow me to transition to where I am taking all of you this week: Haiti! Maybe you’ve heard of it? Unless you have been living under a rock for the past month, you are aware of the devastating earthquake that has shattered an already fragile nation. Now, most of the stories (although fewer and fewer are making headlines as the suffering of the Haitian people becomes less of a hot topic) have been about how western nations are heroically coming to the rescue of Haitians. We are repeatedly reminded of how great and generous we are for helping them.
Now, don’t misunderstand my tone for someone who does not see the merit in all the aid provided to Haiti. While I completely support all of the work done by organizations like the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, how does Haiti rebuild when these agencies leave? How can Haitians rebuild for the long term and have a say in their own destiny?
This brings me to the expression: “Give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” Now imagine an organization that is adding women to the equation. Although aid is important, we must now look for more effective ways to help this struggling nation so that it may stand on its own two feet. Haitians are proud of their country and want to lead in improving it. So when I came across this article about micro-financing for women in Haiti, I thought this was a great idea. Fonkonze is known as Haiti’s Alternative Bank for the Organized Poor. It provides financial services for poor women and their families through loans and business opportunities. I have attached an article that describes what the organization is doing and a video about its latest project.
In times like these, it is difficult not to get into the paternal mentality where we look down on the "developing world." It is our job as part of humanity to help our fellow residents in the global village, but at the same time, we have to let the people help their own country. And how do we do this? By empowering the most vulnerable, often women, and providing them with the tools to take themselves out of poverty. These women do not want handouts, they want dignity and respect. The only way they can achieve this is through taking their future into their own hands and creating their own wealth and success.