The “Hang-n-There” project (HNT) began in February of 2010 in response to the devastating Haitian Earthquake on January 12th 2010. The initial idea behind HNT was to make and sell earrings using the Hang-n-There brand name in order to raise funds to donate to the earthquake survivors or aid organizations on the ground providing critically needed services. A complementary goal was also for the Project Director, Kim LaFranchi, to travel to Haiti on a volunteer trip during which the funds raised would be distributed to individuals and/or organizations. Unfortunately given volunteer space limitations the volunteer trip was not able to occur in 2010.
However, I am excited to announce that on October 17th 2011, I (Kim LaFranchi) will be arriving in Port-au-Prince, Haiti to volunteer at with All Hands Volunteer, an American-based non-profit disaster relief organization that has been working on the ground in Léogâne (the town at the earthquake’s epicenter). Beyond just volunteering (I will likely be building schools) I will be bringing donations linked to the Haitian Student and Teacher Support Initiative (described below) and I will be blogging about my experiences so that others can understand the country's current status.
Haitian Student and Teacher Support Initiative
Currently HNT is focusing its project efforts on its Haitian Student and Teacher Support Initiative, which supports teachers and students in Haiti by bringing much needed school and teaching supplies. Most of these products are not available in Haiti and those that are are cost prohibitive since they cost the same or more in Haiti than they do in the US. And given that Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere (an unfortunate distinction held since before the earthquake) that means that students and teachers most often cannot afford even the basics needed for a quality education.
Have you ever considered:
How hard it is to learn to write without paper and a pen or pencil?
How fun arts and crafts time is without crayons, scissors, glue, or colored markers/pencils?
How hard advanced math or science is without a calculator?
Beyond a one-time donation, a primary goal of my trip is to establish a long-term relationship with a local school in Léogâne that HNT can provide additional support shipments to throughout the year. So whatever supplies I have purchased that I do not have space to bring (darn airline restrictions!) I will send in a 2nd shipment.
If you would like to support the Haitian Student and Teacher Support Initiative, you can do so in the following ways:
Visit the HNT Purchase page or go directly to the HNT shopping cart to view products that have been pre-purchased and are being brought to Haiti on the 17th to be donated. If you feel inspired by what you see, then I invite you to make a Purchase with a Purpose.
If you are unable to make a purchase at this time, I hope that you will please forward along an invite to friends and family to check out this website so they may learn about this project.
You can follow my trip experiences by visiting my travel blog on this website.
I am also providing additional information below for those of you that would like to learn more about:
• The All Hands Volunteer organization
• Haiti and the town of Léogâne
• The impacts of the earthquake and the recovery efforts to date
Volunteer Organization: All Hands Volunteer
All Hands Volunteer (www.hands.org) arrived shortly after the earthquake occurred in 2010 to undertake disaster relief services (rubble removal, temporary shelters, build water purification systems, health education, etc.). After completing its first year of activities, AHV determined it would for the first time in its history become involved beyond its normal disaster relief work and to become part of the rebuilding process – by focusing its second year of activities almost entirely on building permanent and safe schools (also to be used a s community facilities and emergency hurricane shelters). It was important for the future of Haiti to focus on rebuilding permanent schools in order to ensure the education system has the needed infrastructure to serve children and replace the destroyed schools or upgrade from the existing makeshift or leaky tents, which provide an inadequate learning environment. As such, school building is likely the activity I will be involved with during my 11 day volunteer stint with AHV.
AHV very recently announced that they are going to stay in Haiti working on its current school building and bio-sand water filtration installation projects (and teaching locals to continue these initiatives once they leave) for another year. So if you are interested in volunteering they are accepting applications.
Background on Haiti, Léogâne and the Impacts and Recovery Efforts of the 2010
Léogâne is located 18 miles west of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, and was the epicenter of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake on 12 January 2010. A United Nations assessment team found that Léogâne was "the worst affected area" with 80 to 90% of buildings damaged or destroyed and no remaining government infrastructure. The military estimated that 20,000 to 30,000 people in this city of 134,000 had died from the earthquake.
More broadly the impacts of the earthquake, according to the International Red Cross estimated that about 3 million people were affected by the quake; approximately 300,000 people died and 300,000 injured, an estimated 1-1.5 million made homeless and 180,000 buildings damaged or destroyed (includes 80% of schools and 50% of hospitals in affected regions). The cleanup of the 10 million cubic meters of rubble alone is estimated by some to take 20 years.
In the poorest country in the western Hemisphere (even prior to the earthquake), where the per capita GDP is $200 a year, little is reported to have changed much by the 1-year anniversary unfortunately. Around 800,000 people were still recorded as living in tents and of the $4.46 billion pledged for both 2010 and 2011 combined, just 28.7% had been disbursed. Nearly 3,000 temporary schools and 32,000 transitional shelters had been built, however major reconstruction had yet to truly start. Further delays in broad-based progress were caused by the political limbo following the disputed presidential election in November (among other dysfunctions and conditions endemic to Haiti).
[Note: Upon my return I will be updating the website to provide updates based on my trip as well as unrolling the broader Hang-n-There projects and goals- hope to see you back then if not sooner!]