Haiti was thrust into the international spotlight five years ago when a catastrophic earthquake demolished much of its capital city and the surrounding region. Rebuilding efforts are still ongoing and Beyonce has even joined in to help. She was there just days ago in an effort to bring renewed attention to the devastated country.
But the country’s challenges extend far past rebuilding. Eighty four percent of Haiti’s people live in poverty, and it is ranked the third hungriest country in the world.
Plant with Purpose is working to lower Haiti’s position in that ranking. They’re an organization devoted to transforming the lives of the rural poor around the world, particularly farmers. In Haiti, they’re training farmers to use new farming techniques to address food insecurity, environmental degradation, and vulnerability to disasters.
Nearly one year ago, we joined forces to make their programs in Haiti even stronger with our Women Empowered (WE) methodology. WE is our initiative dedicated to promoting the economic and social empowerment of women through savings groups. WE provides training to participants to give them the tools they need to become powerful agents of change in their communities. This includes skills like record keeping and principles of entrepreneurship, but it goes beyond that to include weekly meetings about social issues that matter to women.
Last June, Plant with Purpose organized five pilot WE groups in Haiti. Each group has developed a shared vision and goals for the future, which they are now executing by planning and implementing community level projects in their area. The projects cover a wide variety of areas including:
- Developing a community cultural center to provide a place for organizing.
- Working to increase access to local markets to purchase and sell goods.
- Teaching community members how to prepare compost to increase crop production.
- Repairing roads and improving village transportation, to prepare for the next emergency.
- Constructing a public water tank to collect rainwater so community members spend less time waling long distances to collect water.
All of these projects reflect the unique needs of the women in the group and their community. By saving money and tackling these larger issues together, women in our Plant with Purpose WE groups are empowering themselves to transform their lives and build stronger, healthier communities.