“This is a very hard time for us. We are suffering a severe drought and have lost half our banana plants. There is no government to help, so we must rely on one another” – Marc Aurel, OPODNE leader.
Organizing in Haiti is confronting significant challenges as evidenced by escalating protests against the dysfunctional and corrupt government. Inflation rages at 17 percent and unemployment stands at 50 percent. OPODNE communities face an additional challenge due to severe drought in the agriculture-dependent Northeast.
To address this kind of need, many NGOs provide money for much needed projects. However, most have not been sustainable because while projects are developed, people are not. OPODNE is different. Its starting point is leadership development rather than economic development. Organizing disciplines, values, and principles have been internalized and applied to economic projects as funds were available. As a result, OPODNE leaders have learned to trust one another rather than depend on funding from others. Leaders from 11 communities have met on a monthly basis for five years. This past year training has focused on the theme “Corruption is the Enemy of Development.”
OPODNE communities have maintained six cooperatives, three micro lending programs, and regular community improvement projects because they have one another. While we pray and organize for better times, we pray in thanksgiving for the leaders and members of OPODNE who give hope to Haiti.