The ASC Haitian NGOs Empowerment Committee was formally formed and approved by the Executive team on September 2015 as an ASC Social Justice Program with an international focus. Haiti is a particularly appropriate international focus for our effort given its troubled history as an independent nation established 200 years ago by a slave rebellion against the French colonists and its current status as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The UUSC has made a long-term commitment to working in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake as have two Pennsylvania UU churches we have contacted.
The establishment of CEN Haiti was an outgrowth of the ASC Outliers on a Journey Covenant Group. Three years ago, Armele Vilceus told her ASC Outliers Covenant Group that she had taken extended leave from her job at the World Bank in order to develop a path to making an impact in her native Haiti. Her covenant group encouraged her and helped her form the 501c3 non-profit Community Empowerment Network Haiti which seeks to develop a model of community empowerment in Petion-Ville Haiti that will allow community groups to develop projects of their own selection and needs by providing access to local, expatriate community and international sources of technical and financial assistance.
Rollie Smith and Bob Bonner from Armele’s covenant group both serve on CEN Haiti’s Board of Trustees and Ralph Belton serves as President of the Board. All three of us will join the trip. Ralph was born in Aruba and raised in Grenada with lifetime interest in Haiti. More than10 years ago Ralph was a member of a UUSC Women and Child Task Force visit to Haiti. For Rollie and Bob it will be a first visit. CEN Haiti has established an office in Petion-Ville with volunteer staff and two local Board members live in Petionville, we have regular web-based board meetings with the team in Haiti. Armele as Executive Director (unpaid) travels frequently to help the local volunteer staff with community outreach and develop an inventory of local needs. For the rest of us (Ralph, Rollie and Bob) the trip is an opportunity to see and learn firsthand from the community and the current staff work in Petion-Ville community empowerment. We plan to report back to the ASC community and hope to launch a UU Faithify campaign shortly after our return.
How does the ASC Committee support CEN Haiti?
1. Our committee seeks to find and develop technical assistance from within ASC members and the broader UU community. So far we have helped find volunteers in the areas of:
- Proposal writing
- Fundraising strategy
- Creating promotional video
- Help recruit Board members
- Organize trips to Haiti to promote sustainable development
2. We are helping them find sustaining monthly donors to sustain their program.