Why Build Self-Reliant Communities. To understand the struggle Haiti has had in rebuilding their communities, one has to understand their story. They were once called the “Pearl of the Caribbean”. Today, however, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. More than half of its population lives under the poverty line, and many people rely on subsistence farming to feed their families. The country is heavily dependent on external revenue.
In recent years, natural disasters, disease, political instability, mismanagement of humanitarian relief, and a depreciation of Haiti’s currency, have strained the economy. Tourism, once a vibrant sector, has declined. Further upheaval, including a protest movement, the assassination of the president, back-to-back natural disasters, and rampant gang violence have placed further stress on the country’s economic situation.
Additionally, humanitarian organizations have brought in their own people to carry out projects after disasters, thus denying Haitian workers and their communities of the economic benefit. In other words, organizations (NGOs and private contractors) have received the money from secured contracts, instead of letting that money stay and circulate within Haitian communities.
Part of having a vibrant community means returning power to the people. When we restore a land’s watershed in a regenerative and vibrant way, we restore a community’s ability to make a living off the land. We restore their ability to contribute to local markets and to meet local needs. We restore their ability to circulate money within their communities. We restore their ability to create numerous family-owned industries and opportunities for employment. We restore their dignity and self-esteem. We restore their health. We restore their ability to be innovative and creative, to teach and to lead, and to strengthen social relationships.
This is why we work to restore regenerative watersheds. They lead to self-sustaining (or self-reliant) communities.
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