Many of you who have visited us or come on a trip have spent a night at Kaliko, a little Haitian resort about half way between Gonaives and Port au Prince. One of the great things about going to Kaliko is that you never know who you’re going to run into or what resources you may learn about. Last summer I (Luke) ran into Betsy Wall, a fellow Canadian from my hometown of Cambridge, Ontario. Betsy is the Executive Director of the Foundation for Haitian Development Assistance or as it’s known in Haiti, Productive Cooperatives Haiti. And their primary role is the development of agricultural cooperatives, which they have been successfully doing in Haiti for over 30 years! We ended up talking for several hours about Haiti and what truly effective development looks like. Our conversation helped us see that our chicken co-op would greatly benefit from their expertise.
In December HOPE invited FIDA to come and do an assessment of our work both in the community and particularly of our developing chicken co-op. We learned a lot. We had meetings with FIDA’s Haitian leadership in Port au Prince, which was followed by a visit of three of their staff members to our project in Gonaives. The visit and the report that followed were invaluable—we were encouraged in what we are doing well, given some constructive criticism about how we interact with our community. and received lots of practical information about poultry care.
The assessment was a significant reminder to me of the importance of evaluation as a part of organizational accountability. In Haiti it is all too easy for organizations to avoid these things. The truth is, all of us who are at work trying to help others need to find ways to evaluate whether or not our programs are actually working. Accountability isn’t just about how an organization spends its money. That is important to be sure. But it is also about accountability to the population you are serving. We need to know if our programing is effective: How is it helping? How is it hurting? What are we doing well? Where do we need to grow?—these are questions we need to ask ourselves. Sometimes the best way to find the answer is to invite experts in from the outside to assess and offer feedback.
Working with FIDA/PCH provided an unique learning opportunity not just for our organization but also for the farmers we partner with. Co-op members received a chance to gain knowledge from Haitian agronomists, and were encouraged in their hard work and efforts. We loved the opportunity to learn from Haitians who were experts in their fields and we soaked up every bit of information possible. After carrying out the recommendations FIDA/PCH put forth, our farmers saw a 15% increase in egg production!
HOPE Community Project’s team on the ground is thankful for the talented group who came to assess us. We are grateful for what we learned and look forward to more conversations with the staff of FIDA/PCH as we seek to establish a truly sustainable economic development program.
Sustainability is why we are in the process of negotiating on a piece of land so we can have a more permanent location for our medical clinic, a community center, and housing for our visiting medical/service teams. This new land opportunity will mean significant expansion opportunities for our job creation program. MORE HAITIANS BECOMING INDEPENDENT AND SELF SUSTAINING. But we need your help. You can make a tax-deductible donation HERE. Click HERE to watch a short video about our vision for the community we serve.