SVN Spring Conference: Haiti Onward

Clothing drying on the line at a Haitian CampThe most emotionally charged session that I attended during the Spring SVN member gathering at Skamania Lodge was Haiti Onward.  In part, this was because the rawness of the earthquake and its aftermath, and in part because of my experience volunteering for several weeks with AMURTEL had me feeling connected deeply to the stories that were shared.  The session touched upon several organizations that are working on revitialization and the rebuilding effort and offered the SVN community the opportunity to be inspired to participate in that effort.  Following are a few brief pictures of what was heard during the session.


~~“I have this vision” begins Samuel, one of the youth trained by Nouvelle Vie to be a spiritual leader for his community.  He and 350 youths across Haiti have gone through training to provide breathing and meditation exercise for their compatriots.  The 20 person youth corp, Nouvelle Vie’s next project, will spread concepts of permaculture across the nation while doing essential work to reforest the country.

~~With the arrival of Life Giving Force‘s suitcase-sized water filtration unit, 7,500 gallons of medical-grade clean drinking water is available for 2,500 people.  This unit is solar powered and is installed at a solar powered orphanage.

~~ AMURTEL works to empower the women in the camps through Animators – women trained to inspire and work within a community.  One of the big requests they are hearing right now is for micro-finance programs.  The people are asking for help to rebuild their lives.

~~ Jim Gordon, of Center for Mind Body Medicine, is seeking to bring a basic system of mental health for the country since everyone is affected by the earthquake.  Words he uses to describe the Haitian – sweet, resilient, and remarkably open.

~~ Indigenous Designs founders and SVN members Matt and Scott have made a commitment to help in this effort; so far ideas of how they will engage include selling products made in country on their site or providing orders to trained artisans.

happy children dancing~~ Fonkoze, a micro-finance group in Haiti, has a multi-step process to help life the people up out of poverty (yes they are already speaking to AMURTEL.)  They also have 50,000 women in their system.

~~ The journey for Haiti to move from being a disaster stricken country to one with a sustainable future has both immediate needs and long-term ones.  In response to supporting the long-term needs SVN members and  Halloran Philanthropies and Generocity came together to provide the initial seed funding for HaitiOnward.org.  This website was designed to catalyze and mobilize the sustainable business community into action by providing direct investment pathways and resource corridors to reach established grassroots organizations in Haiti.

There are many opportunities for SVN members to get involved through monetary or business support in the revitalization of Haiti; in addition to those mentioned above several SVN members have stepped forward including Tow Willits of YourOliveBranch.org, Brad Michaels of SociaLab, and Doug Hammond of ALIVE Communties to continue this important work.

To end, there is hope for this country.  In the words of one of the youth from Nouvelle Vie “In order for the world to be sustainable, Haiti must be as well.”Hard at work

This post was written for SVN during their spring member conference.

Click here to see the rest of the SVN coverage of the 2010 Spring Member Gathering.

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