stair_stepVinFormation, the formation segment of famvin, has developed a feature, “Faces of Hope – Haiti”,  based on material and a  report sent by Fr. Robert Maloney, CM sharing impressions of the 2010 Projects Committee that visited Haiti in mid August. This visit marks the first step towards Vincentian Family collaboration in Haiti in helping people climb a ladder out of poverty through micro-finance..

Their goals were 1) to meet with the national leaders of the Vincentian Family in Haiti to discern with them the greatest needs of the poor in their country and to elicit their reaction to participating in the pilot micro-credit project; and 2) to meet with the leaders of Fonkoze, the largest micro-finance agency in Haiti, to explore further how we might collaborate with them (rather than trying to re-invent the huge infrastructure that micro-finance programs require).

Fr. Maloney writes…

Dear John,

The 2010 Projects Committee was represented by Laura Hartman of dePaul University, Yasmine Cajuste (the International President of JMV) and I.  Winston Tellis, from Fairfield University in Connecticut, accompanied us.  From the start of our work, he has been facilitating our contacts with Fonkoze.  Also, not long before we left, Fr. Dennis Holtschneider, CM asked Bill Banks, Web Application Designer at the College of Computing and Digital Media, to join our team and paid all his expenses.  Bill took more than 2000 photos while we were there and made a series of videos.

… We had a lively, interactive meeting with the national leaders of the Family.  It went quite well.  Yasmine, Laura, and I made a presentation, using PowerPoint.  Yasmine did a wonderful job in explaining the notion of micro-credit and led a long discussion afterwards, often speaking in Creole.  After the presentation, we broke into five groups, with each group responding to a series of questions that we distributed.  Then, each group reported its response, using newsprint, and we gathered all the responses.  The responses to the questions we posed about collaborating with Fonkoze in the micro-credit project were positive.

Our meetings with Fonkoze also went very well.  These meetings had been prepared, through frequent email and phone contact, over the three-month period before we arrived.  At a first meeting with Anne Hastings, Executive Director of Fonkoze, and Greta Greathouse, Chief of Party for HIFIVE (which is distributing funds for USAID), we worked out numerous details about a grant application that we will be making this week. At a second meeting with Anne Hastings and two members of her staff, we spoke very concretely about the website, the role of the Vincentian Family and the role of Fonkoze.

While in Port-au-Prince, we visited the extraordinary work of the Daughters of Charity in Cité Soleil.  It ranks among the most impressive works that I have seen.  Laura has already sent you lots of photographs that can be used on FAMVIN.

During our six-day visit, we made two two-day journeys. The first was to Gros-Morne and Gonaïves, both in the very poor northwest region of the country.  Gonaïves was devastated by Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Hanna in 2007 and 2008 and remains in wrecked condition.  Roads destroyed by the storms have not been rebuilt, and cars abandoned by the side of the road two years ago still lie there.  There is lots of information online about the devastation caused in Haiti (in Gonaïves especially) by the two storms.

The second trip was to the area surrounding Mirebalais, just north of Port-au-Prince.  There we visited women who are on each of the four rungs of the Fonkoze micro-lending ladder.  Below, I have provided some information, from the site, about the 4 rungs on the ladder.  It was striking to see the change in the sense of self-worth and personal dignity as people progressed up theladder.

All of us found both trips very moving and very enriching.  I think that Laura has already sent you photos from both trips that could be made available on FAMVIN.

Also on our schedule was a meeting with Msgr. Joseph Serge Miot, Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, who was enthusiastic about the micro-credit project.  In the course of the conversation, he invited the Haitian leaders of the Vincentian Family to address the Episcopal conference in September to tell the bishops about the 350th anniversary celebration.

Those are just a few of the main events during the trip.  We had a number of other meetings.  Bill Banks put together a great collection of photos and videos, which Laura is sending to you little by little.

Hope that’s helpful.


(Editor’s note: The photos and videos referred to above are being used in the the above feature. VinFormation will be developing other features on micro-finance in general and this project in particular and welcomes news of what various members of the Vincentian Family are already doing in Haiti.) Send information to John Freund, CM