By Haitian Times Editorial Staff
On Jan. 11, some of New York’s most notable in the Haitian community came together at Space Ibiza in Manhattan to raise money for basic economic recovery programs for those still suffering from the effects of Hurricane Matthew last October. The fundraiser, which took place only days before the anniversary of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, was attended by former prime minister Laurent Lamothe and former minister of tourism Stephanie Villedrouin.
Proceeds from the fundraiser, Haiti Shines Bright, will go to economic development programs meant to restart some of Haiti’s sectors and rebuild towns. For example, money raised will go to purchasing nets and motors for fishermen, roofing materials and water filters for the general population, and seeds and tools for small farmers.
The projects will be carried out by the Haiti-based Dr. Louis G. Lamothe Foundation, founded by the former prime minster.
“We don’t just want to give a handout, we want to show [local farmers] they can produce and sell their goods to the market,” Lamothe said. He went on to discuss some of the initiatives his foundation is working on and the successes they’ve had over the past year.
“The foundation is trying to be innovative and not do things that have been done in the past,” said Lamothe. “We’re looking to build smart villages in Haiti, where the community is centered around solar energy.
“Imagine the farmers are living in darkness from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. with no light … we want to change that.”
Last year, the foundation connected rural farmers to markets, where they were able to facilitate guaranteed purchases of their crops by the biggest supermarket chain in the country.
“It brought entrepreneurship to the farming communities,” he said. “They went from earning $800 a month for their crops to $12,000 a month.”
Lamothe also sang praises to Villedrouin for her work as minister of tourism during remarks to the crowd.
“The first time I went to Haiti after the earthquake there was nothing left” Lamothe said. “There were no hotels. There were no guest house accommodations; everything was destroyed. in three years she did something that no one in the history of the country has done, which was bring five 5-star hotels to Haiti, and she brought a 5-star beach resort to our beautiful shores.
“This is what’s needed to bring the country up; it’s investment, it’s private sector and changing the paradigm.”
“Here at the foundation, we believe the country and be raised from the bottom, but for that to work we need to start providing strategic support through education so the country can become self sufficient,” Villedrouin, who also works with the foundation now, said. “That’s our vision.”