My name is Alice Auradou and I have been a Progressio development worker in Haiti and the Dominican Republic for many years. I feel passionately connected to Hispaniola/ Progressio. I lived and worked alongside people from both sides of the island and witnessed their struggles and successes first hand.
Progressio asked me to return to Haiti just a day or two after the earthquake hit in January 2010. I was devastated by what happened – I have many Haitian friends and so I was determined to use my knowledge about the challenges facing the country and its people to help achieve some good in the aftermath of the disaster.
I am a development specialist. In my experience, development can involve very many things depending on the context of the country in question. Haiti has its own complex reality. The earthquake was a disaster of unprecedented proportions. People couldn’t have imagined the force of it, the scale of it. Everyone was touched, friends, colleagues, rich, poor, old, young.
Of course, there have always been problems in Port-au-Prince, but not like this. Bi-national cooperation between the Dominican Republic and Haiti is vital. They share the same island and so need to work together to tackle issues around Haitian migration, employment of Haitian migrants in the DR and their shared responsibilities towards the environment. An ongoing dialogue between the two countries is vital.
In the Dominican Republic Progressio supports a range of local partner organisations and amazingly, helped change the country’s constitution on really important issues like the rights of people living with HIV as well as the rights of Dominican-Haitians.
The key to Haiti’s future however has to be ‘decentralisation’. At the moment, everything in this country happens through, or in, or via the capital city, Port-au-Prince – everything is centred around the capital. It is no coincidence that the vast majority of people who died were here in Port-au-Prince on that day. How can a country prosper if everyone has to go to the capital every time they need a document, or a passport, or an ID card, or car insurance? I believe Progressio is helping to show people why tackling this issue is so vital.
We are already working to support communities in the vulnerable border areas with the Dominican Republic, a long way from Port-au-Prince, and an area that has long been overlooked. Over time, decentralisation will help build services and infrastructure across the nation, so that all Haitians, wherever they live, can build a better life.
Other projects in Haiti and the Dominican Republic focus on environmental issues, for example the introduction of laws that promote organic farming, biodiversity and the protection of natural resources, as well as helping local people and communities to participate in local development plans and implement community projects through the participatory budgeting process.
Alice Auradou also coordinates Solid’Hispaniola, a French NGO which promotes international solidarity with the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Map of Dominican Republic / Haiti
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