By Bertrhude Albert
Bertrhude Albert is PhD student in Agricultural Education and Communication at the University of Florida . She was born in Haiti but moved to the US at the age of 8. In 2011 Bertrhude co-founded a Gainesville-based 501(c)3 Nonprofit called Projects for Haiti, Inc. (P4H). As CEO of P4H Bertrhude’s heart is to see sustainable development and growth in Haiti.
Dear American Red Cross,
Maybe it’s best for us to part ways. On behalf of Haitians, Haitian-Americans, and Haitians by Association who are actively working towards the development of our country, I think it’s safe to say that your development efforts are not needed in Haiti anymore. Let me explain.
We are well past the relief stage of the 2010 earthquake. We don’t need handouts; we need investment. We don’t need another bloated, bureaucratic organization refusing to be transparent with hastily solicited billions clogging up the channel toward prosperity. We don’t need you to meddle in our development because the solution to poverty is not material goods but the creative capacity of the skills we can use for our own advancement. Respect us enough to work with us, or get out of our way.
Allow me to introduce myself. I am Bertrhude Albert, a Haitian-American. In 2011 I co-founded a 501(c)3 non-profit called Projects for Haiti, Inc. which believes that the solution to poverty lies within local communities. Because we believe this, we were able to accomplish far more with an annual budget of $78,118.49 in 2014 than what you have been able to do with half a billion dollars in five years. Last summer, we partnered with 400 Haitian Educators and trained them on best pedagogical practices for their classrooms. Collectively they have thousands of students in their classrooms (probably some future construction workers). Through this training and other teacher trainings we’ve hosted throughout the year, we have been able see a significant shift in Haitian Educators, students and our community. With $78,118.49, we were able to offer trainings for hundreds of other Haitians through our micro-loan program, youth leadership conference, and many others. Because we believe in the ability and dreams of our Haitian friends, our $78,118.49 is worth more than your half a BILLION.
This letter is a rallying cry not only for Projects for Haiti, but for the other NGOs that are working toward eradicating poverty through an investment in building human capacity instead of serving self-interests. A quick glimpse into development literature from authors like Dambisa Moyo, William Easterly, and Abhijit Banerjee show just how poisonous handouts are. While it is appropriate to support vulnerable populations with immediate relief after a disaster, it is grossly inappropriate to keep that form of aid as people are moving towards the development stage. Your work undermines the natural development that Haiti could have apart from your interventions as well as the work that others like us do on the ground.
You will do well to actually come to the streets of cities like Cap-Haitien, my birthplace, and hear this from the people themselves. The secret of your incompetence in fostering development is out, American Red Cross. Haiti will soon be lifted up on the shoulders of her resilient people, and her triumph will be in spite of your failures.