From the devastation of the 2010 earthquake, and the Haitian Creole word meaning “change” and “transformation,” hope for Haitians has emerged in the form of the Chanje Movement.
According to the movement’s website, “If you can say, ‘Yes, I want to experience change and I want to share it with my community and my world,’ then you can consider yourself part of the Chanje Movement!”
Addressing Five Symptoms of Poverty in Haiti
Yet beyond such motivating and inclusive statements, the Chanje Movement tangibly combats poverty in Haiti by transforming the lives of the next generation through addressing basic needs, creating healthy communities and providing leadership training.
The Chanje Movement believes that young people in Haiti have the power to reconstruct a nation where more than 50 percent of the population is poor and 2.5 million people need humanitarian aid eight years after the earthquake that took 316,000 lives.
Five of the projects the Chanje Movement promotes on its website highlight five symptoms caused by poverty in Haiti.
The Dream Center
This Dream Center is intended to be a community center where Haitians can gather for a variety of physical and social needs.
In Croix de Bouqets, they are working on building in stages a space for a church with a local pastor, a medical clinic, an education center, a trade school, a home for orphans and an auditorium for special events. Specifically, the Chanje Movement desires for this type of space to be replicable throughout Haiti, so they can equip the Haitians of Croix de Bouqets and, in turn, spread similar positive change throughout Haiti.
The World Bank claims that one of the key needs for eliminating poverty in Haiti is an investment in people — both in their individual futures and access to basic services, and collectively as a community. The Dream Center aims to accomplish both of these endeavors.
Numerous places in Haiti require clean water and to address this need, the Chanje Movement usually has a waitlist for when they receive donations.
Less than 50 percent of the rural population has access to clean water as rural areas often depend on hand-pumped, piped water systems. These systems require maintenance funds and, as a result, are often neglected.
The lack of clean water unsurprisingly leads to health problems, such as the cholera epidemic after the 2010 earthquake that claimed 8,700 lives. The whole system is tenuous, as exemplified by the resurgence in cholera in early 2015 following heavy rains.
Build a Home
Tens of thousands of Haitians lost their homes in the earthquake eight years ago, and about 55,000 people still live in tents and makeshift homes today. These abodes do not offer safety, shelter from tropical storms, insulation or hygienic conditions.
The Chanje Movement’s efforts to build real homes benefits individuals and the Haitian economy, as Haitian workers are employed to construct them.
With donated funds, the Chanje Movement loans out $200-$500 to Haitians be paid back in six months to two years, which increases economic stability and allows Haitians a chance to start businesses. When the loans are paid back, funds are immediately reinvested in a new entrepreneur.
The World Bank claims that helping Haitians use their skills to start their own businesses will be crucial to ending poverty in Haiti, as the income of a business will allow assets to accumulate and protect the next generation of Haitians from the devastating consequences of a natural disaster like the earthquake with increased savings.
Additionally, helping Haitians generate a more steady income through their own businesses could address the orphan crisis that is hugely related to poverty in Haiti.
Currently, 500,000 children are considered orphans in Haiti, but 80 percent of these orphans have at least one living parent. This discrepancy is predominantly caused by the homelessness following the earthquake. Due to lack of shelter, food and resources, many parents decided their children would be better provided for in orphanages. Fortunately, providing job opportunities through microloans, in addition to the Chanje Movement’s homes, has the potential to reverse this cycle and keep children and parents together.
Backpacks for Kids
Meanwhile, backpacks full of supplies help provide for some of the country’s orphans within the Chanje Movement’s homes for children in Croix de Bouqets.
The Borgen Project had the opportunity to interview Daniel DiGrazia, who is from Crossline Church, one of The Global Mission’s partner churches. He has been to Haiti four times in the past three years, and explains that a key part of distributing these supplies is playing with the kids that live in these orphanages.
Since he makes frequent return trips, DiGrazia has “grown in relationship with a multitude of the people there.” While DiGrazia’s team helped the Chanje Movement administer relief during his trips, the main reason he keeps going back is to show love to the Haitians and invest in the people and relationships.
He explains, “I’d love to go again next year…It’s a really good experience and I really love the people there. And I really don’t want to just be there and gone. I want to build relationships and keep coming back and see how they’re doing.”
DiGrazia has also personally benefitted from going to Haiti, growing in his faith, relationships, understanding and generosity.
For those that cannot immediately travel to Haiti, supporting the Chanje Movement has the capability to combat poverty in Haiti. In the past year, thousands of Haitians had basic needs met with clean water and food provided by the Chanje Movement.
The organization also trained 500 future leaders and helped 75 children access education — tangible efforts that take the necessary steps towards a Haiti without poverty and the need for humanitarian aid.
– Charlotte Preston