When the above picture showed up on Facebook a few days ago it hit me hard! This picture truly does say a thousand words… For those of you who see it as just a cartoon with no merit I ask you to look at it again after you read this series of posts.
I have had the unfortunate experience of working for an NGO/nonprofit/501c3, in Haiti as well as spending plenty of time around others and better still I have had conversations with many Haitians as to the effects of NGOs. I am going to share with you what I have witnessed and been told over the years.
There is an NGO out of Massachusetts that I have been very aware of since 2008… COTY Church Outreach to Youth Project. In 2008 they had been in Haiti for 25 years. The Haitians that were part of one of the NGOs programs were the first Haitians I ever meet… They were working here in the US. These six young men get the credit for my falling in love with Haiti. I was able to watch how this NGO was working in their lives and see it through their eyes. I was shocked and appalled by how the director treated them… yelling, talking down to them, and in general treating them with complete disrespect! On the first occasion I meet her she actually put them and all Haitians down to me… I ended up walking away hating her! She kept a lot of their pay. Keeping some of the pay was part of the deal for the NGO arranging for them to come work in the States. She kept whatever she wanted there was no set fee. The guys not knowing what the amount was going to be… she kept a higher amount from some than she did from others. The first year met them I found out that she had kept their passports… I had driven these guys all over New England and they hadn’t had their passports the entire time! She kept their social security cards, to this day most of the guys are not in possession of them. I meet many of the Haitians in her program though I only know 8 of them really well… in fact three of them are like brothers to me. During my most recent stay in Haiti I had the opportunity to travel to Dasab the Village that COTY has worked in for 30 years now. My friend Edens (one of the workers I meet five years ago) took me high into the mountains on his motorcycle. Fenal who was also in the same program, meet us there. Fenal continues to work with the COTY… because he loves the village that he was born in and wants to help the people there. After 30 years of teams coming and going and millions of dollars raised there is little to show for it. A school building that also houses a clinic, a bakery that the project rents out, and of course a guest house for the teams that come to stay. The foundation was started for a sewing school but the promised money never came from the COTY, so the ground sits un-worked. I was shocked, thirty years in one location and this is all they had to show for the organization? This and the dislike of a vast majority of the villagers have for them. The dislike seems directed mainly at the same woman I took such a disliking for. A woman who feels she is God and that everything must be done her way and it doesn’t matter what the Haitians want or how they feel. I woman who can’t even sit down and have a conversation with the Haitians about needs, direction or anything else for that matter. She refuses to learn Creole… but insists that the Haitians learn English. She refuses to pay the villages anything for the work they do for COTY or for her… She won’t even give food and water when they are doing manual labor. I could go on and on in regards to COTY and the woman who runs Haiti Plunge… But I won’t today.
Stay tuned for post two on this topic.