HAITI – Support needed more than ever: donate to grassroots self-help

Dear friends,

After last year’s earthquake, many of you donated generously to the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund. HERF quickly used the money for immediate relief of the suffering of grassroots Haitians and to help those struggling to rebuild their lives.

It has not been easy and the need continues to be great. The presence of outside forces stands in the way of Haitians determining their own future. Most of the rubble remains. Up to 1.5 million people are still homeless, living in tent cities without even drinking water; some tent cities were violently evicted leaving people with nowhere to go; most of the money a compassionate public donated to help survivors has not reached them; Haiti is still under UN occupation; cholera carried by UN soldiers has claimed thousands of lives; and a new president with ties to previous dictatorships has been selected by the US through fraudulent elections.

Despite these tragedies, on 18 March 2011 Haitians won the return of their beloved Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Elected president for the second time in 2000, Aristide was ousted by the US in 2004 and forced into exile. But the 92% of voters who had elected him never accepted his overthrow and risked, and some lost, their lives campaigning for his return.

Selma James and Nina Lopez of the Global Women’s Strike (GWS) in London, and Margaret Prescod of Women of Colour/GWS in Los Angeles were among those invited to greet President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s and his family on their return to Haiti. We witnessed the deeply moving rapturous welcome as thousands of people flooded through the gate to his modest house – a torrent of the joyous.

We used our time in Haiti to meet some of the people from the organisations that have been helped by HERF. While facing extraordinary hardship, they are strikingly resilient and determined. And with Aristide back they feel in a stronger position to demand the resources for reconstruction to which they are entitled.

As you will see from their brochure, HERF focuses on grassroots self-help which so often starts with women who are always central to the survival of families and communities. HERF is committed to the accountability of services such as medical care and education. They have been funding: emergency housing, food and water; treatment for cholera as well as trauma; food co-operatives; free schools for children and adults; micro credit projects; human rights, including help for groups of survivors organising for change and for families campaigning for justice and compensation . . .

HERF is run by volunteers. There is no administrative cut, no ‘experts’ in 4x4s carrying out expensive ‘assessments’. HERF offers solidarity, not charity: their aid goes directly into the hands of Haitians helping Haitians, neighbours helping neighbours, activists helping to sustain their areas and communities. They deserve every support.

For more information on HERF go here

The Global Women’s Strike sends money to Haiti regularly. Why not join us with a standing order or a monthly cheque?
To donate online to HERF go to: www.haitiemergencyrelief.org

You can contact us on (020) 7482 2496 or visit www.globalwomenstrike.net