Corruption is nearly a way of life in Haiti. Ordinary people experience government, NGO, and corporate corruption every day. Millions of dollars in foreign aid disappear before they reach the people who are supposed to benefit. OPODNE is courageously challenging this corruption by modelling transparency and accountability in every organizational activity. They realize democracy and economic equity are essential values if Haiti is to reclaim its proud heritage as the only country throwing off the shackles of slavery. They also realize that reclaiming this heritage must once again occur through systemic grassroots organizing.
Last August, OPODNE gathered at their General Assembly and shared their training “Corruption is the Enemy of Development” with 100 leaders. Since then, this training has been shared with more than 500 leaders in 11 communities across the Northeast Department. For OPODNE this is more than just the words of training. It is about the actual practice of transparency and accountability. So at every monthly meeting they report on the use of all funds received for economic development projects. They make all decisions in community settings. In June the presidents of all the OPODNE organizations met to provide a written report to one another on all of their activities. The lack of transparency or accountability by leaders was used as an example for training and improvement. Members are encouraged to practice these values in every aspect of their individual and community lives. OPODNE’s reputation for honesty is growing. People and politicians from the communities OPODNE organizes are asking how they can include more people.
OPODNE needs two things to expand. First, we need additional seed funding for economic development projects. Second, we need people who can demonstrate their commitment to community activities and the common good before investing additional funds. We are hopeful that OPODNE’s grassroots efforts will become a model for others.