01/14/2016

Thank you for having supported us for 6 years

Our support in Haiti will finish by January 2016. We greatly appreciate the support we have received from everyone up to now.

JEN started supporting activities in Haiti on 16th January in 2010. The activities started in Grand Goave and Leogane, which are the districts that were hardest hit by the Haiti Earthquake on 12th January in 2010. JEN provided emergency shelter aid, consisting of galvanized iron sheets, hammers, nails etc, to 4700 affected households.

In May 2010, JEN started a Water sanitary project, which included activities such as the restoration and construction of water supply facilities, the establishment and training of Water management committees and sanitary education.

The condition of Haiti is getting better compared to that of 6 years ago just after the earthquake hit. However, even before the earthquake, it has been said that Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Thus, there should be room for further development, such as basic infrastructure in this country.

JEN is leaving Haiti, during the projects, we met many locally people and so we hope they would continue to contribute to the development of Haiti in the future.

Once again, we are deeply grateful to all the support we have received over the past 6 years.

[JEN staff who is in charge of sanitary education at Rara festival]
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[Volunteer staff who finished training for sanitary education with JEN staff]
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January 14, 2016 in Haiti |

12/24/2015

Food Access Situation in Haiti

Where do people living in Haiti buy household goods and food?
First, people in Haiti buy household goods and food at local markets. Leogane, our project site, also has markets. The number of goods are limited, however, items needed for daily lives such as vegetables and meat are available at these markets. People need to watch out when they buy products, since food tend to be sold at poor hygiene sites at most markets.

【Vegetables and fruits being sold next to wastes or muddy water (at a local market).】
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Second, a lot of people from other countries buy groceries at supermarkets around the national capital. Most products here are sold at high prices since they are imported from countries such as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic. Dairy products are especially expensive: a pack of milk costs more than 120 HTG (about 250 JPY) and a dozen of eggs cost more than 250 HTG (about 530 JPY). Vegetables grown in Haiti are inexpensive, however, imported vegetables are seemingly more expensive than those sold in Japan.

【A Chinese cabbage bought at a supermarket: 209 HTG (about 440 JPY.】
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【Carrots bought at a supermarket: 113 HTG (about 240 JPY).】
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In Haiti, infrastructures such as electricity and running water are poor. In order to maintain the same living standard as in Japan, with a house, electricity, internet access, running water and so on, you need to pay more than you would in Japan.

December 24, 2015 in Haiti |

12/10/2015

The Emperor’s Birthday Reception

On December 2, I participated in the Emperor’s Birthday Reception hosted by the Japanese Embassy in Haiti. More than 300 people in total attended including, Haiti officials, aid agency representatives, and Japanese people living in Haiti and all enjoyed a buffet celebration to mark the event.

At the opening of the ceremony, both the Japanese ambassador and a Haitian government representative made speeches in French.

Dishes including Japanese cuisine, and drinks such as beer, champagne and Japanese sake were served to the attendees. Sushi and tempura were included in the Japanese dishes. The meals and drinks were ordered from “Haiku,” the only Japanese restaurant in Haiti.

I’ve been to this restaurant personally where I ate a bowl of rice topped with salmon for $20 which tasted good.

It is impossible to buy raw fish for sushi in Haiti since there is no tradition of eating raw fish in this country. It is said that raw fish for sashimi and sushi is generally rather expensive in Haiti since it is ordered from markets in Miami, USA, and brought into Haiti by sea.

【National flags of Haiti and Japan, on the stage of the ceremony.】
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【Japanese culture was introduced to the attendees.】
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【A bowl of rice topped with salmon from “Haiku,” the only Japanese restaurant in Haiti.】
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December 10, 2015 in Haiti |

11/26/2015

Kiosk-type Water Facility No.5 Construction is Complete

JEN’s Haiti Office is now working on a water hygiene project. This project is centered on the Leogane and Grand Goave communes, which were struck hard during the 2010 earthquake.
In Bas Gerard area where is a part of Grand Goave commune, we have installed one kiosk-type water facility. Also, because the area lacked water pipes, we extended the pipes an extra 200 meters to pull water to the water facility.

This 5th kiosk tower will be used by 35 households living in Bas Gerard area as well as 15 households from two other communities living around the area. As soon as the construction finished, the residents came to get water. Before, the residents had to walk 20-30 minutes to fetch water from the 4th kiosk tower. This time has now been shortened as a result of the new water facility.

The finished kiosk-type water facility is now run by the local water management committee, and will be maintained and managed by the residents themselves in the future.

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【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.
DONATE here

November 26, 2015 in Haiti |

11/19/2015

After a pandemic of cholera

Since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the country reached epidemic proportions of cholera in many areas. The Government of Haiti announced that from October 2010 to January 2014, the numbers of cholera patients were 698,304.

According to a survey from 2013, there were 58,505 cholera patients that year, which was a decrease from 100,000 in 2012. In 2014, the number was reduced to half: 26,000. If you look at the numbers, there appears to have been a big reduction in cholera cases and eradication of the disease seems to be successful.

However, from January to August 2015, the numbers increased to 21,666 which was a 147% increase. According to these data, it seems that there are limits to the attempts of a number of organizations to control cholera outbreaks.

Cholera is transmitted by polluted water and food, and through feces and vomit of infected patients. In Haiti, people living in poverty do not have sufficient access to safe water, sanitation and public health centers. This reality is connected to the situation where cholera infections do not stop.

Finance shortage is another reason. The finances required for the activities, preventing cholera pandemic, proposed by the UN have only reached 46% of their goal from 2014 to 2015. If the fundraising is not successful, there is no possibility to construct infrastructure to provide safe water.

If these problems are not solved, there will be no way to conquer cholera.

JEN will continue to provide support to allow the majority access to safe water.

【 The river of the central area of the capital, where garbage is dumped】
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November 19, 2015 in Haiti |

10/22/2015

Haiti under deforestation

If you enter the Dominican Republic from Haiti, you will notice that there are less plants and trees in the latter than the former.

Jared Diamond: a Bio-Geographer and professor of University of California, Los Angeles told in his book “Collapse” that only 1% of the land in Haiti is covered by forest, while 28% is covered in the Dominican Republic. Why does this gap occur when both countries are located on the same island (Hispaniola)?

The reason lies in people’s lives. In the Dominican Republic, gas is used for cooking, but in Haiti people use charcoal to make fire for cooking.

There is a limitation of livelihood in rural farming areas in Haiti. To chop down trees and make charcoal is an important source of income for people in these areas. Also, many people in Haiti are living under poverty and they do not have additional money to purchase gas. They have fallen into a negative cycle.

If we lose forest, we lose a place for water reservation, and eventually a place to live. It is necessary to break this negative cycle and think about how to restrain deforestation as much as we can.

[People making charcoal]
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[Charcoal before taking to market]
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October 22, 2015 in Haiti |

10/08/2015

The repair work of the water source completed

The repair work of the water source has been completed at the Grand Goave district and the Bas Gerard area.

Before the repair work was completed, the water had been flowed out from the cracks covered by concrete. Therefore, there was a possibility that the polluted water got into the water source due to its backward flow. In addition, the amount of the water in the water tanks decreased by leaking.

We repaired and strengthened the water source by concrete. It will make possible to provide safe water and ensure more amount of water.

In the Bas Gerard area, safe water has been supplied to residents through the “kiosk type water supply facility” and the private running water. The water source being polluted leads to pollute all the water supply facilities. JEN will continue our support in order for residents to access safe water.

<The water source before being repaired> >
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<The water source after being repaired>
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【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.
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October 8, 2015 in Haiti |

09/24/2015

Starting construction of a new kiosk shaped water facility

JEN Haiti has started to construct a new kiosk shaped water facility in our project site, Bas Gerard in Grand Goave. Although renovation of 4 kiosks has been done this year, 4th kiosk has used by many people. In order to prevent conflicts between users, and to reduce waiting time to take water, we initiate construction of a kiosk which is 250m away from 4th kiosk. 

A lady who lives near construction of 5th kiosk said “It took me 45 minutes to go to fetch water on foot at water spring before. After 4th kiosk completed, it took 25 minutes, and 10 minutes to get water when construction of 5th kiosk finished.”

5th kiosk water facility will be used by 35 households around this area and 15 households living in other 2 communities near Bas Gerard.

【Under the construction of 5th kiosk water facility】
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【People wash clothes near kiosk】
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【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.
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September 24, 2015 in Haiti |

09/10/2015

Drought in Haiti

Drought has some harmful impact during rainy season between April and June. According to CNSA (Coordination Nationale de la Sécurité Alimentaire), this drought reduces harvest of agriculture production. It will below half of production compared to a normal year. The high probability that El Niño phenomenon continues, and weather forecasts indicate rain in below average until December, a performance lower than the normal. The rise of price associated with loss in crops is projected to reduce food access for poor households in south peninsula, department of north west, north east and south east (*1). In addition, lack of irrigation infrastructure and lower water level in rivers make living of farmers and rural population vulnerable.

At present, damage caused by drought is not conspicuous in Leogane, however, there is a possibility to get worse situation in the near future. JEN continues to ensure safe water access to contribute living of local people.

【People wash clothes in river of lower water level in our project site, Bas Gerard】
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(*1) HAITI Perspectives sur la sécurité alimentaire (CNSA ,2015).

(*2) Bulletin humanitaire Haiti numéro 52/Juillet 2015(OCHA, 2015


【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.
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September 10, 2015 in Haiti |

08/27/2015

The greeting from new staff

Bonjour tout moun, I'm Alexander Francois, I am Haitian, and I just joined JEN team. I am part of the administrative team and I am there to work well with the staff. In the first week, I already have a good impression of the work the staff realized in the community of Leogane. The staffs in charge of program have efficient work and good teamwork because they go to field after morning meeting to share progress of each work.
In addition, I had a great welcome by the staff. The guard dog also welcomed me, even if it is still hard for me to trust him.

This is the second time I work in Leogane, the city of Rara. Moreover, this is a first time to work with Japanese organization, and I am eager to contribute to project where we work. 

【Alexander Francois who works as a member of administrative team】
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【Guard dog Lorka】
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August 27, 2015 in Haiti |

08/13/2015

Public transportation in Haiti

What means of transport do Haitian use to commute and move city?

First of all, fixed route bus called Tap tap is widely used to move between cities. It is popular among Haitian because it is reasonable price, while it takes time to get to destination as it stops at every station. Minivan typed bus stops less time than Tap tap while bus fare is more expensive. 

Bike taxi is often used when people move in city. It is convenient because bike can proceed without too much effect in congestion. In the biggest city such as capital of Haiti, Port au Prince, it can be seen Tap tap at any area. Moreover, there is taxi service, even though its number is limited.

When you compare fares for one way trip from Port au Prince to Leogane where JEN Haiti works, it mentions as below. (about 35km between 2 cities)

- Minivan typed bus (50 gourds=about 110 JPY) you can directly go to destination.
- Tap tap (35 gourds=about 75JPY) you must change Tap tap once on the way but less cost.
- Bike taxi (300 gourds=about 660JPY) you can go wherever you want to go but more expensive.

【Tap tap in Port au Prince】
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【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.
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August 13, 2015 in Haiti |

07/30/2015

Water Management Committee ‐Bas Gerard‐

We introduce Water Management Committee (WMC) in Bas Gerard, Grand Goave this time.

JEN Haiti has supported in Bas Gerard since November 2014, and construction of 4 kiosk shaped water facilities has been completed. Before, there were WMC organized by National Directorate for Water and Sanitation in this area but it is not active at the moment. In order to be managed kiosk shaped water facilities by local people, JEN Haiti works on re-establishment and capacity building of WMC.

Under the agreement with National Directorate for Water and Sanitation, the member of WMC has been selected. At present, the members have meeting for local people to encourage usage of kiosk and collection of water fee.

Sometimes, water facilities and water pipes break down. There are many water facilities that are left because of no existence of management committee and lack of repairing cost. WMC compensates repairing cost by collection of water fee to manage water supply by local people in sustainable way.

【The member of WMC explains introduction of water usage fee to people in Bas Gerard】
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【People in Bas Gerard listen to presentation conducted by WMC】
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【Technician repairs water pipe】
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【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.
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July 30, 2015 in Haiti |

07/16/2015

Tourism in Haiti

You might think that “Where is Haiti?” “Does it exist?” Even those who know Haiti, it might be recognized as the poorest country in the western hemisphere. However, Haiti has a potential for development of tourism industry because it is a country in Caribbean. We introduce such a tourism situation in Haiti this time.

According to the statistics by The World Bank, the number of international inbound tourists to Haiti in 2012 was 295,000 while that in Dominican Republic who is Haiti’s neighboring country was about 15 times (4,563,000 visitors ) (*1). The reason why Haiti is so less attractive is that other governments do not recommend people to visit Haiti due to deterioration of security and political instability. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan decides in oversea safety homepage “It is recommended to prolong to your trip ” in the capital Port au Prince. It is desirable to make sure information and ensure security when you come to Haiti. 

Then, which sites in Haiti people visit? First, Citadelle Laferrière which is world heritage site in North is popular for the travelers. The massive stone structure is said to have been built between 1805 and 1817 to prevent the invasion of France. Moreover, tourists can ride horse to go up to structure from parking owing to steep grade. In addition, Jacmel is considered for inscription on the world heritage list. The city still has historical French colonial architecture that dates back from 18 century, and we can fell such an atmosphere. We can also enjoy seeing coast as the city faces sea. These two sites are located in North and South Haiti where it is comfortable to visit because it is more stable situation.

【Citadelle Laferrière】
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【Tourists go up to structure in Citadelle Laferrière by taking a horse】
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【Sea in Jacmel】
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(*1) International tourism, number of arrivals. (The World Bank).


【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.
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July 16, 2015 in Haiti |

07/02/2015

Water Management Committee ‐Jeanty‐

We introduce Water Management Committee (WMC) in Jeanty, Grand Goave this time.

When you take a walk in villages, it can be frequently seen water facilities which are not worked anymore and they are left. In addition to construct water facilities, JEN Haiti has been working on capacity building and strengthening of WMCs. In local communities which did not get used to managing water facilities, support is given to local population in order to be able to manage water facilities by themselves in a sustainable way.

【Kiosk keeper who manage the kiosk shaped water facility】
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As a result of support over 2 years, WMC manages them by themselves in Jeanty. Subscription fee that have been collected at the kiosk shaped water facilities from January to March amounted to 3,985 gourds (nearly 10,000 JPY). Moreover, WMC supervises private water connection, and its rate of monthly subscription fee recorded more than 67% in the same period. The households who have private connection use water flow meter. They pay monthly usage fee based on water consumption. The collection fees have been used for management of water supplies.

【Private water connection in the household】
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【A member of WMC (center) and JEN staff conduct the water quality test】
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【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.
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July 2, 2015 in Haiti |

06/18/2015

Rehabilitation of water spring

In Bas Gerard in Leogane where JEN works on the project, we have started rehabilitation of water spring since May according to the agreement of DINEPA (Direction Nationale de l’Eau Potable et de l’Assainissement), which was based on field research. Although spring box is covered by concrete, there was a high risk of contamination from outside because contaminated water might flow into from the damaged place. It is necessary to rehabilitate for the box to supply safe water as people in Bas Gerard ensure water from this water spring through kiosk shaped water facilities or private water pipes. By rehabilitating the spring box this time, it is not only prevented inflow of contaminated to the water source, but it also increases the flow capacity of water.

【Water leaks through the concrete of spring box 】
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【Under the rehabilitation of water spring】
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Moreover, during my visit, it can be seen many mangos that have been harvested. Mango is not rare fruits but familiar to local people since we can see everywhere in the village. The number of mango is obviously too much compared to population in Bas Gerard. Some mangos are left under the tree during the harvest season.

【Mangos in harvest period】
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【Mangos are dropped from the trees, and they are left】
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【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.
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June 18, 2015 in Haiti |

06/04/2015

Construction of water facilities has been completed!!

JEN Haiti office has been conducted renovation of 6 existing fountains to 6 kiosk style water facilities in Haut Gerard in Leogane commune, renovation of 3 existing fountains to 4 kiosk shaped water facilities in Bas Gerard in Grand Goave commune.

The next step is that we inspect constructions, and the WMC (Water Management Committee) takes over them. JEN will train the WMC in order for them to be able to manage water facilities properly such as introduction of collection of subscription fee for the usage of water facilities.

As features of kiosk, it is expected that the long-term sustainable maintenance by water management committees through introduction of the fee collection system. It can also prevent wasting water and protect water borne diseases because the supply of water can be controlled by water management committees.

【Second Kiosk in Haut Gerard】
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【Fifth kiosk in Haut Gerard】
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【Third Kiosk in Bas Gerard】
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【The representative of WMC Bas Gerard(Person on the left) and JEN Staff (Person on the right)】
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These kiosks were constructed with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and our supporters. They are indispensable to deliver safe drinkable water to people in Haut Gerard and Bas Gerard.

【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.
DONATE here

June 4, 2015 in Haiti |

05/21/2015

Project site introduction - Bas Gerard -

We would like to introduce our project site, Bas Gerard. It is located 5 minutes by car from Haut Gerard in Leogane where we introduced as an another project site before. There are 160 households living in Bas Gerard.

People in Bas Gerard mainly get income by selling agricultural products, livestock and charcoal. There is not enough land to cultivate because it is situated in the mountain valley. Therefore, charcoal is essential source of revenue for local people, and they cut and burn tree, and sell it in the market.

JEN works on renovation of 4 kiosk shaped water facilities, repair of 1 existing water tank, capacity building and strengthening of Water Management Committees and hygiene promotion.

【Under construction of kiosk shaped water facility(right building)】
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【Under repairing of water tank】
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In addition, due to “World Water Day” on 23rd March, we conducted hygiene practice such as fetching water in a hygienically better way, protection of water, treatment of water by using water purification tablets in this area. In the near future, it is expected that inhabitants in targeted communities have access to safe and sufficient water through construction and repair of water facilities. We continuously conduct hygiene promotion activity so that inhabitants also recognize major risks regarding public health (including cholera) and take necessary measures to prevent deterioration of hygiene condition. 

【Inhabitants make charcoal】
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【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.
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May 21, 2015 in Haiti |

05/07/2015

Statistics on rice in Haiti

If we ask “What is main food in Haiti to Haitian, most of them may say “rice”. This is because it can be seen a part of main course at the local restaurant. However, it was not major element of the contemporary food a few decades ago.

【Typical Haitian meal】
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Data shows that milled rice domestic consumption in Haiti in 1980 was 63,000 metric tons while that in 2014 recorded 490,000 metric tons, increased by almost 8 times (*1). In contrast, there is almost no change statistically in milled domestic rice production per year. It shows 62,000 metric tons in 1980, compared with 69,000 metric tons in 2014 (*2).

As a factor of increase in rice consumption, effect of government policy can be given. In the past, Haiti has fed rice by themselves. However, in the mid-1990s, Haitian government reduced import tariff on rice from 35% to 3% under the guidance of trade liberalization policy by IMF. After that, American rice which is low-cost and highly-subsidized, has flooded into domestic market. It caused to decrease the price of domestic rice, unable to compete with them (*3). Today, Haiti is the fifth largest importer of American rice in the world (*4). Haiti imports 80% of rice it consumes (*5).

Even though there are other elements that rice consumption has increased, at least government policy has an impact that rice has become typical meal among Haitian. 

【Imported rice from US that is sold in the town of market】
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(*1)Haiti Milled Rice Domestic Consumption by Year (index mundi, 2015)
(*2)Haiti Milled Rice Production by Year (index mundi, 2015)
(*3)Country profile – Haiti(New Agriculturist, 2007)
(*4)Beyond Aid: The Flood of Rice in Haiti(Poverty cure, 2013)
(*5)Haiti no longer grows much of its own rice (Oxfam America, 2008)

【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.
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May 7, 2015 in Haiti |

04/23/2015

Rara festival

JEN participated Rara festival in Leogane, and promoted hand washing activity. 

Rara festival is the second biggest religious and cultural event in Haiti, followed by carnival, and held it every region. It is not a day event but it takes place through lent. Musicians play drums, trumpets, bamboo horns and dancing with a member of group. It can be seen small parades throughout every city. Leogane is the best known for its Rara in Haiti, it had a big festival on 5th April this year.

【Parade of Rara festival in the center of Leogane】
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【Woman dancer in the parade】
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Parade started from 6:00 evening and run until the next morning. Even though most people left the event because there was a heavy rain at midnight, many visitors crowded around the main street around 8:00 at night, and enjoyed seeing performance.

Our theme this time was “Rara is my culture, treated water + washing hand is my health”. JEN rented a stand and conducted hand washing promotion activities. We shared importance of hand washing with visitors and provided quiz regarding water and sanitation for children. When the answer was correct, we presented water purification tablets. In addition, we gave an opportunity to practice hand washing by using hand soap. Our keyword of participation in RARA festival was Haitian culture, water and sanitation. For JEN, it was great time since we interacted with many people and shared importance of water and sanitation.

【JEN’s banner 「Rara is my culture, treated water + washing hand is my health」】
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【JEN staff supports a child to wash her hands】
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【JEN staff who participated in hygiene promotion activity】
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【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.
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April 23, 2015 in Haiti |

04/09/2015

World Water Day event

Does everyone know ‘World Water Day’?
It is a day to think about importance of water resource with global population. ‘World Water Day’ is marked on 22 March every year. In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly designated 22 March as ‘World Water Day’.

At the moment, JEN Haiti engages in water and sanitation project. We took advantage of this opportunity, and hold an event concerning water and sanitation in 2 areas on 23rd March.

In the event, we conducted hygiene practice such as fetching water in a hygienically better way, protection of water, treatment of water by using water purification tablets. We also interacted with local population through musical chairs, question and answer regarding water and sanitation. Many people from adults to children participated in the event. It was a good time as we enjoyed, danced and learned.

【Hygiene promoter explains how to treat water by using water purification tablets】
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【Inhabitants enjoy musical chairs】
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Haiti is said a country that has majority of cholera patients in the world. As main reasons, it is considered that limited people have access to clean water and appropriate sanitation facilities (*1). Moreover, hygiene promotion is necessary to continue constantly because it has been seen that people do not often take an action, even though they have correct hygiene knowledge. 

JEN supports to be able to maintain public water facilities in the long term by local committees. We also conduct distribution of hygiene knowledge by hygiene promoters. Through this event, we continue to support the activities so that more people can get a better understanding of importance of water, and they practice for it. 

【People practice hand washing】
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【Participant answers the question】
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(*1) United Nations Support Plan for the elimination of the transmission of cholera in Haiti 2014-2015 (United Nations in Haiti, 2014).




【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.
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April 9, 2015 in Haiti |

03/26/2015

Hygiene promotion activity

JEN has started hygiene promotion activities in earnest from this month under the current on-going project. From among 6 project sites, we share an activity which was hold at an elementary school in Duplessis in Leogane in this article.

During our visit, 5 hygiene promoters explained how to wash hands and reasons why it is important to do it in each grade. After that, children practiced hand washing.

【Child practices hand washing】
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【Washing hands carefully at the fingertip】
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Many people suffer from diarrhea in the project sites. Their high risk behavior includes usage of the river water shared with livestock or washing clothes for the purpose of beverage, as well as keep water in unclean buckets and containers, when people got it back to home.

Other than washing hands, JEN provides some sessions such as using latrines, water collection, transportation, storage, through visits of schools, health centers and houses so that people recognize major risks and prevent deterioration of hygiene condition

【Hygiene promoter demonstrates hand washing with children】
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【Children sing hand washing song】
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【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.
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March 26, 2015 in Haiti |

03/12/2015

Haiti big earthquake –my experience-

I have worked at JEN as an office assistant since July 2013. Let me share my experience in earthquake in 12th January 2010, although it has passed 5 years.

When earthquake happened, I had been with 8 members of my family at home that was 10km away from Leogane. I was shocked because it was the first time to experience such a quake. My house was completely destroyed. I went to the hospital in Dominican Republic next to Haiti with my family as I was injured. It was 1 day trip by bus. On the way to go there, I had seen a lot of rubble of buildings on the street, and it was difficult situation to pass through.

【Writer】
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With the help of NGO, my house was reconstructed. The most painful accident was that my mother-in-low died due to collapse of building. I will never forget it in my life.

【The reconstructed road in center of Leogane, after earthquake】
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It has passed 5 years since the disaster, many housing and roads have been reconstructed. I am eager to keep contributing to development of this region as a JEN staff.



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March 12, 2015 in Haiti |

02/26/2015

Project site introduction - Haut Gerard -

This time, we would like to introduce our project site, Haut Gerard. Haut Gerard is located in the rural area where it takes 30 minutes from center of Leogane city by car, and there are 150 households living. JEN works on the renovation of 6 kiosk shaped water facilities, capacity building and strengthening of Water Management Committees and hygiene promotion.
 
【Main road in the town】
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When we walk around the village, it is frequently seen cassava. Cassava is a kind of potato that is extensively cultivated in tropical regions, and its food texture is similar to potato or sweet potato. Cassava is often planted by inhabitants as it is easy to grow even in dry areas.

【Cultivated Cassava in the town】
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During our visit, we held a hygiene session to train the volunteers who are scheduled to promote hygiene knowledge. We discussed proper way to treat containers when we dip water, when we carry it. Volunteers who had the session this time, take place sessions and house to house visit to distribute correct hygiene knowledge to population.

【Hygiene promotion volunteers are discussing in a hygiene session】
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February 26, 2015 in Haiti |

02/12/2015

New project started - (3) Hygiene promotion activity -

This time, we introduce the third approach in new project, which is hygiene promotion activity.

In order to prevent waterborne diseases such as cholera, we currently disseminate appropriate hygiene knowledge to population in 6 communities.

In Haut Gerard and Bas Gerard, where we construct kiosk shaped water facilities in this new project, hygiene promotion volunteers are selected and trained. Then, they take place hygiene promotion session for local residents, and house to house visit at each community and school to distribute correct hygiene knowledge.

【Children are washing their hands】
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We also continue hygiene promotion activities in 4 communities, where we have supported in previous project sites. In these communities, hygiene promoters are recruited among former hygiene volunteers. Through visit of schools and health centers, it is expected to spread the knowledge in the entire communities. At school, we take place hygiene promotion activities including washing hands, using latrines, etc. At health care centers, we set a washing hands stand at the waiting room. This opportunity allows us to provide proper information on various water borne diseases other than cholera and typhoid, and on prevention.

Through these activities, inhabitants in targeted communities recognize major risks and take necessary measures to prevent deterioration of hygiene condition, and use water treatment for improvement of their health.

【JEN staff are practicing hygiene promotion in the office】
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February 12, 2015 in Haiti |

01/29/2015

New project started - (2) Reactivation, Training, capacity building and strengthening of Water Management Committees (WMCs)-

Last time, it has been presented concerning the construction of kiosk style water facility. However, it cannot provide safe water constantly without proper system.

At the present, the population in Haut Gerard in Leogane uses only half of water facilities due to damages of some parts such as pipes. In Bas Gerard in Grand Goave, there are some water leakages from private water network, which wastes water and causes unequal distribution of water among the population.

In the above 2 project sites previously had a WMC, we reactive and train the WMCs to be able to manage water facility sustainably. For instance, we start by collection of subscription fee for usage of water facility. In addition, WMCs will take initiative to make a policy into WMC’s guidelines in order to manage properly.

Secondly, we chose 4 communities where the population has more potential to affect the strengthening of management capacity. In these areas, JEN community mobilisers visit the sites basically once in every two weeks for monitoring, and if there are problems in the field, the mobilisers encourage WMCs to make an effort for good management.

[Explaining the way of the maintenance system works and its role to local residents]
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At the end of project, 6 WMCs will be continuously active, and fee for water usage will be accumulated and pooled in each WMC so that they can manage the maintenance of water facilities by themselves



【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.DONATE here

January 29, 2015 in Haiti |

01/15/2015

New project started  - (1) Ensuring access to safe water-

JEN Haiti has started a new water and sanitation and hygiene project over 10 months from 7th November 2014, with financial assistance of Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and support from the people of Japan.
This project consists of three components. This time, we introduce one of three components; ensuring access to safe water.

At present, local population uses unclean water source due to lack of latrines and sewage system in Haut Gerard in Leogane and in Bas Gerard in Grand Goave, in the west department of Haiti. Therefore, we plan to renovate from 9 existing fountains to 10 kiosk shaped water facilities in these 2 areas.

【Existing fountain in Bas Gerard】
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What is kiosk shaped water facilities?
Kiosk is the box-shaped building with 2 to 4 pieces of faucet. Water supply is controlled by the keeper inside of kiosk. Inhabitants pay 1 HTG (0.02 USD) per bucket. 

【Kiosk in the previous project】
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Advantages of kiosk
(1) It is expected that the long-term sustainable maintenance by water management committees through introduction of the fee collection system.

(2) Prevention of wasting water and protection of water borne diseases because the supply of water can be controlled by water management committees.

10 kiosk shaped water facilities will be completed by August, and these are used by local people.




【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.DONATE here

January 15, 2015 in Haiti |

12/25/2014

Greeting from new staff

Bonjour!! Tout le monde. My name is Yasutaka Sano. I’m newly appointed for JEN Haiti office from 8th December.

Here in Haiti, temperature during the day time goes up to 30℃ and I get sweat a lot even when I just stay under the sun. It is enough to wear T-shirts and short pants even in winter. Compared to Japan, the climate here is more comfortable.

Although I currently work in the office in Leogane city, I go to the capital city to purchase office supplies and to work on admin issues a couple of days per a week. The capital city of Haiti, Port au Prince, is geographically close to the sea and mountains. There are many slopes in the city. When we look down the beautiful sea from a hill, we can realize here is one of the Caribbean countries.

[In Port au Prince]
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Along with daily work, I tackle French and Creole to improve communication with local staff and beneficiaries. I have just started to work here, and I sincerely pull my weight first and I hope to contribute to as many people as possible through our project.



【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.DONATE here

December 25, 2014 in Haiti |

12/11/2014

Construction of a water tank has been completed!!

JEN Haiti office has constructed a water tank at Mathieu, Leogane commune in West Department of Haiti. This water tank has a capacity of stocking 84 m3 of water. It functions with gravity; that means that it is not necessary to use electricity to deliver water to water networks and water facilities. The construction started from May 2014 and finished late September of the same year.

[In the beginning of construction]
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[Construction of columns for water tank]
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[Construction of wall]
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[Constructiono of wall]
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[Inside of water tank]
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[Putting concrete]
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[Water tank constructed]
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This water tank was constructed with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and our supporters. The water tank is indispensable to deliver safe drinkable water to people in Mathieu.

【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.DONATE here

December 11, 2014 in Haiti |

11/27/2014

Repair of a water network

What comes to your mind at the word “assistance for providing safe water to people”? Most of you might imagine construction of wells with hand pumps and water tanks.

In the project this year, JEN Haiti office repaired a water network. The network is connected to water facilities such as Kiosks in local communities. While it might not be so well known as wells with water pumps and water tanks, construction of water network is one of the forms of assistance to provide safe water. Water network brings water from water resources (which sometimes exist far away from communities) to people’s residential areas, so that they do not have to go far away to draw water.

 
[Repair of water network]           
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Thanks to support from the Japanese government and our supporters, JEN Haiti office has repaired a water network of 6 km this year. Some parts of the old water network were clogged up with garbage, and had some broken pieces such as fitting parts and valves. The repaired water network is now functional and bringing safe water to people in Mathieu, Palmes Region in the West Department of Haiti.
  

[Garbage from pipe]              
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[New pieces of pipe]
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【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.DONATE here

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November 27, 2014 in Haiti |

11/13/2014

Statistics on Water and Sanitation in Haiti

«The poorest county in the Western Hemisphere » ―people often refer to Haiti with this phrase, and unfortunately this is true. In fact, Human Development Indicator (HDI) shows that Haiti ranks 168th out of 187 countries in the world (*1). In addition, Haiti is one of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), which means that Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. The country has been confronting a lot of challenges in the sector of water and sanitation, education, infrastructure, and health among others.

JEN Haiti office has been working in the sector of water and sanitation, where people face considerable difficulties. In urban area of the country, approximately only one in four people have access to safe water, and in rural area, only one in two people (*2). Also, one out of every 6 children under the age of 5 dies of diarrhea (*3). These are lives which we can save with safe water and correct knowledge about sanitation.

In Haiti, from October 2010 to August 2014, the country had 706,089 suspected cases of Cholera, and estimated 8,592 death by the disease (*4). The country still has the largest Cholera epidemic in the Western Hemisphere (*4).

Thanks to your support, JEN Haiti office has been supporting local population in rural area, approximately 3,000 households in total, through construction and repair of water facilities, as well as hygiene promotion activities. We have been working in Palmes Region, where people suffered the largest damage and destruction caused by the earthquake in 2010. People here often say “Water, that’s life (Dlo Se Lavi)”. Safe water is indispensable for our health, and therefore the phrase is literally true. “Water is life”.

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(*1) Human Development Reports (UNDP, 2014)

(*2) Joint Monitoring Programme Report 2014: Progress on drinking water and sanitation (WHO/UNICEF, 2014), data in the report was collected in 2012

(*3) Haiti Maternal and Child Health and Family Planning Portfolio Review and Assessment(USAID, 2008)

(*4)Haiti Cholera Response September 2014, the data is cited by the Ministry of Health and Population of the Haiti Government (UN Haiti, 2014)


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November 13, 2014 in Haiti |

10/30/2014

Bonjour in Creole

Republic of Haiti has two official languages; French and Creole.
Creole is widely spoken in daily life in Haiti, and people usually use French in official occasions, as well as written documents.

In JEN Haiti office, Haitian staff speaks Creole.
Let me introduce some words in Creole.

Hello = Bonju
Thank you = Mèsi
Thank you very much!= Mèsi anpil
No problem = Pa gen pwoblèm
Really? = Sa’wm dim la

As some of you might notice, some words are similar to French words.
If you have a chance to come to Haiti, we would be very happy if you use some of the Creole words above with us!

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Office Assistant
Claudel Beauge

October 30, 2014 in Haiti |

10/16/2014

Washing hands poster @Haiti

In our office, like other JEN offices overseas, we display JEN’s washing hands poster. Let me take this opportunity to write about “washing hands” with details.

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“Washing hands”. This is for most of people an insignificant unconscious concept. As a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene promotion specialist (WASH) this is much more than a concept. A part of my work is to encourage people to do it the maximum time that they can do and at the crucial time. From my long experience, I have faced several critical times when washing hands was able to decrease significantly an outbreak of any virus or cholera. And if you think that this concept is only for the third world, sorry to say that you are wrong.

In our society this concept was completely neglected after the massive expansion of antibiotic after the Second World War. The idea was that we can kill all disease if we have the correct antibiotic. It’s not rare to have a prescription of antibiotic for a virus. I can remember the last time we had a massive campaign on washing hands in my country; it was for the H1N1 flue. At the end the pharmacy group made more profit with their injection than the cosmetic group with their soap.
Washing hands makes entire sense here because the situation is critical for several reasons. If there is an outbreak of a virus that can be prevent on washing hand you have to make a maximum effort on that.

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First of all, it is because the majority of people do not afford for a medication. Secondly because the health sector doesn’t have the capacity to response to an outbreak etc.

Washing hands it’s not enough to prevent the transmission of disease; it has to be done in a correct way. For instance an efficient washing hand has to be done in 30 seconds. I can assure you that only a small part of our society does it correctly, and we usually call them maniac. I take a bet with you that you take much less than 30 seconds to clean your hands.

The first time I was on the field for a survey, I ask all day long the people to show me how they wash their hands. I was amazed how they proceed. They clean their hands better than a surgeon. Just to say, that the difficulty of our work it’s not only to “teach people how to clean their hands” because they know it, maybe better than me. However the most difficult part is to convince that this effort (including financially) will benefit them.

Finally “washing hands” is not enough it should be complete by “with soap” if we want to be more efficient.

Head of Office, Haiti
Ludovic Blanco


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October 16, 2014 in Haiti |

10/02/2014

Trainings for hygiene promotion volunteers

A series of trainings for hygiene promotion volunteers is one of the main activities of JEN Haiti. JEN has given hygiene promotion trainings to local volunteers, and then they will convey the knowledge to people in their local communities. JEN has finished a series of trainings which started from December 2013, and this month the volunteers received their certificates of completion of the trainings.

[Volunteers with certificates]
141002The activities of hygiene promotion trainings might sound unfamiliar to some of the readers of this article. Let us explain the details of the contents below.

[JEN staff giving training]
141002_2Our trainings include how to wash hands, how to use toilets, importance of safe drinkable water, and how to prevent diseases such as cholera, malaria, dengue and chikungunya. For example, regarding prevention of cholera, the volunteers learn the importance of drinking water of kiosks, not dirty water on the road or unclean streams, as well as using toilettes properly and washing hands before eating something. They also learn how to make ORS (Oral Rehydration Salts), which prevents patients of cholera from dehydration.

[JEN staff and a volunteer]
141002_3While diseases such as cholera, malaria, dengue and chikungunya are widely prevalent in Haiti, these are preventable if people know the right way to prevent. It is people’s desire to have healthy life without suffering these infectious diseases and improve hygienic conditions of their communities. For that purpose, JEN has been working here in Haiti, and from now on, the volunteers we have trained will take an important role to act out the desire in their communities.

【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.DONATE here

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October 2, 2014 in Haiti |

09/18/2014

Posters for prevention of Chikungunya and Dengue

In our project sites, there are still a lot of people affected by Chikungunya. We have written about the epidemic of Chikungunya in Haiti in our previous blog articles, and some of you might have already known about the disease. In general, Chikungunya has symptoms such as high fever and joint pain, which make people suffer greatly.

As Chikungunya, as well as Dengue, are transmitted by mosquitoes, it is important to prevent the increase of mosquitoes so as not to be affected by the diseases. For the purpose of disseminating accurate knowledge to local people, JEN has made posters and cards for our activities, thanks to supports from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and our supporters.

[Posters for prevention of Chikungunya and Dengue]
140918_8The posters and cards describe symptoms of Chikungunya and Dengue, as well as how to prevent from the diseases. As you see in the pictures below, the visual images of the posters and cards help people easily understand the cause of the diseases and the way to prevent them. Using these posters and cards, JEN staff conducts our activities in our project sites, Grand Goave, Gressier and Leogane. Having correct knowledge about the diseases encourages people to change their behaviors by themselves, which have a great effect to the prevention of the diseases.

 
[Posters and cards for prevention of Chikungunya and Dengue]
140918_9140918_10【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.DONATE here

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September 18, 2014 in Haiti |

09/04/2014

Haitian food

Haitian people eat rice as their staple diet. While rice is a staple of Japanese food as well, unlike Japanese people, Haitian people usually cook rice with salt and oil. Generally, Haitian food uses a lot of oil, compared to Japanese food.

As seen in the photos below, Haitians cook red beans with rice, and the beans make the rice looks red. The red rice looks similar to Japanese festive food, “Sekihan” (rice steamed with red adzuki beans) but they have completely different tastes. This red rice is one of the typical Haitian dishes. In Haiti, people often cook meat seasoned by lemons and limes with tomato paste.

 
[Rice with beans]          
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[Red beans sauce]
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[Chicken cooked with tomato paste]
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In Haiti, people also eat fried bananas and food like donuts, which is made of a vegetable. 

[Donuts made of Haitian vegetable]
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In Haiti, we enjoy a lot of fruits such as bananas, mangos, and pomegranates. The country’s tropical climate makes it possible to eat mangos almost throughout a year. There are mango trees around JEN Haiti office, and we are looking forward to eating the mangos soon.

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September 4, 2014 in Haiti |

08/21/2014

Water tank is under construction!

JEN Haiti has been working on a project in the sector of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), funded by the government of Japan and supported by people of Japan. The project aims to improve access to safe water in Palmes region, West Department, in Haiti. For this project, we construct water facilities in the form of kiosks and a big water tank, as well as conducting hygiene promotion activities.

[Map of Haiti, Palmes Region in West Department]
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At kiosks, local people pay for water per bucket. Why JEN does not offer water for free? In order for kiosks to be sustainably operated, they require maintenance and repairs and this cost can be covered by the money collected from the usage of water. This payment system enables local people to manage the kiosks sustainably even after JEN finishes our project.
 

[kiosk]
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Our current project started in December 2014. As of July 2014, we are on the final stage of implementation. For the moment, we are constructing a water tank (see the photos below). As you can see in the photos, wall of the tank is currently under construction.
  

[Construction of a water tank] 
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[JEN construction team]
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[Truck which pours concrete to a mold of the water tank]
140821_16The construction is planned to complete in a couple of weeks. We will shortly report its completion!


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August 21, 2014 in Haiti |

08/07/2014

Goodbye Haiti

Last year around this time, I was assigned as Administrative and Finance Officer in JEN Haiti. First time I came to the office, there were over 20 staffs working here and I hoped that I can remember everyone’s name really fast. As most of the local staff only spoke Creole or French, and since I did not speak any French or Creole, I felt unease in communicating with everyone.

After a year has passed, now I am more or less comfortable in communicating with local staff with my broken Creole and I learned a great deal of how Haitian way works. My morning starts with greeting with everyone by shaking their hands. For me, you shake hands when you meet someone for the first time, and it took me a while to get used to the way our staff does greeting. My work involved bookkeeping and administrative tasks to make sure that the fund is used correctly and operation runs smoothly. Coordinating with donor for project proposal and changes are also important part of my work.
Photo_10
As I had a place in Port-au-Prince, I commuted every day from Port-au-Prince to Leogane and this was a real time killer and exhausted me at the beginning. However, I was able to take this opportunity to learn some Creole with the driver every day and it encouraged me to speak more Creole. As this was the first time living in least developing country and working in a WASH sector, everything was so new to me. I learned the problem Haitian people face with water and what Haitian government is trying to do to overcome the situation. We see that the construction of the kiosks and reservoir, along with hygiene promotion can improve Haitian people’s lives.

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Nevertheless, it is time for me to say goodbye to Haiti. From October, I will be moving to another country for new start, but I will not forget the smile and laughter of Haitian people. Despite their tough life, people are very kind and sociable. I hope Haiti will develop further for future generation to come. Thank you for those who have supported me during my stay in Haiti. Orevwa Ayiti!

Photo_12
JEN Haiti Office staff
Shiho Wada

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August 7, 2014 in Haiti |

07/24/2014

Bonjour from JEN Haiti office

JEN Haiti office is located in Leogane, a town one hour away from the capital city of Haiti, Port-au-Prince. The office is surrounded by greenery. The town is nice and quiet, and we can see sugar cane fields on the side of the road to the capital. Leogane was the epicenter of the Haitian earthquake in 2010, where people suffered from huge damage and destruction. While many other NGOs set up their offices in the capital, JEN is based in Leogane, as our motto is “working closer to people in need”.

 
[Our office]                         
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[View from the office]
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For the moment, there are around 15 staff and one watch dog (her name is Lorka) in the office; head of office, Ludovic from France (who has already written some blog articles), construction team and hygiene promoters (led by the local staff, Berlande), and admin staff (including Japanese staff from HQ).

[Staffs]
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[Lorka]
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In the morning, JEN Haiti office wakes up with roosters cry and lowing of cows living around the office. All staff comes to the office at 8 am, and the construction team goes to construction site, and hygiene promoters go to the field to do their activities respectively. Head of office also goes to the field, sometimes to the capital city for meetings, and also works from the office as well.

  
[Construction team]               
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[Hygiene promoters]
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Admin team literally does the back-office admin work, but here in Haiti, they have another important work. That is to keep the electricity running! Since the supply of electricity in the country is irregular, we have to charge our inverters while it’s on, and when the charge runs out, we have to operate a generator. If we live in Japan, it would not be easy to imagine this situation, but keeping electricity running is a very important mission for us! (It’s because, needless to say, we cannot use internet, charge cell phones, and even use fans without electricity).

Although our working environment is not so easy, our staff is tough and we continue to fight all the difficulties that we face to get the job done!


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July 24, 2014 in Haiti |

07/10/2014

World Cup

Soccer is the national sport in Haiti. The first official international match of Haitian team dated March 22, 1925. It was in 1974 when Haitian national team participated in the FIFA World Cup. That year was a pivotal one in the history of soccer and audiovisual in Haiti. Since then, Haitian people could watch football matches on TV.

There are 12 clubs in the national championship. The most popular clubs are Racing Club Haïtien, Violette, Aigle Noir AC. People in Haiti like to watch soccer on TV, while they do not often go to the stadium. On weekends, they enjoy other international championships such as Spain, England, Italy, and France, as well as other Champions League also.

The FIFA World Cup 2014 affects life in Haiti. This is the priority of many Haitians despite the Haitian team named Les Grenadiers could not reach the FIFA World Cup. Two soccer teams, Brazil and Argentina, are more popular.  The fans of the teams decorate their cars and their houses with flags, even the streets where they live. They wear bracelets and keychain of their favorite team.

140710_4[From Le Nouvelliste  June 18, 2014]

People watch TV wherever they are. There are moto-pubs with TV on them. People stand around to watch match. The government distributes flat screen TV in the city and the countryside. There are some watching soccer match in front of the lottery house, in their office and in the yard. People stops working. If they cannot use TV, they listen to the radio. The traffic is reduced.

They cheer when their team scores goal. They honk their honks when their team wins. The band plays music on the streets, mainly when Brazil wins. They are sad when they lose. After the game, they talk about it. This is the way Haitian people enjoy the World Cup 2014.



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July 10, 2014 in Haiti |

06/19/2014

Chikungunya hit Haiti!!!

After more or less 2 months the Chikungunya turn the country on a new crisis. The population is totally in panic. The communication to the population is contradictory, the country do not have the capacity to counter this crisis. But we can’t blame them. This disease hit several countries and did several epidemics. Only few studies on the virus have been done. So far no treatment has been found to treat the virus, we just treat the symptoms fever; join pains, headache and rash are the common symptoms. The only effective measure is to take painkiller to reduce the pain. The virus doesn’t kill and give you long term immunity. However the consequences can be forever. Some people can feel the pain several years after. Again fortunately the virus doesn’t kill.

However this crisis just hides another problem that worries us. The vector of the Chikungunya is the Aedes/Aegypti mosquitos. It’s the same mosquitos that carry Dengue. Dengue has been identified in Haiti several years ago. But unfortunately by a lack of test no information has been done on these diseases. Some doctors keep saying that there isn’t Dengue in Haiti and just increase the confusion. Some NGOs fight to emphasis this disease due to its severity. But Malaria was the main issue for the country. Before the Chikungunya everyone talks about Malaria, now everyone forgot Malaria and talk about Chikungunya and Dengue hit in silence. The main symptoms are the same but the consequences are totally different. Dengue can kill if it’s not treated has it should be. But the health care center are not train to diagnosis properly the different diseases. And in a country as Haiti the population use auto-medication instead of going to a doctor due to cost. And often the treatments are not adapted.

Unfortunately in such situation only a national plan can counter the crisis but Haiti doesn’t have the capacity. In this context the breeding nest have to be treated and the population has to use personal protection. Some NGOs try to organize a rapid response to counter the situation locally. Of course this kind of response will not solve the problem but reduce the hemorrhagic locally.

To counter the panic the NGOs try a massive communication on the disease and emphasis the importance to be diagnosed by a doctor mainly due to the Dengue. At the same time we communicate on the way to reduce the breeding nest around their house and take personal protection. The second step is to counter the mosquito. Two options possible smoke for the mosquito and treat the breeding nest. Those two options are really efficient but are expensive require a strong logistic, human resource and time. In Haiti many wells were realized in order to enhance the access of water. Unfortunately those wells are the best spot for the mosquitos. It’s what we are going to target first.

In this situation we have unfortunately to expect several crises in the coming years until the entire population is immunized.

Regarding our organization I think the entire (with maybe few exceptions) had been affected. In the organization it looks like all the expatriated had the virus.



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June 19, 2014 in Haiti |

05/22/2014

Chikungunya has reached Haiti!

Mosquito borne disease are very common in some parts of the world, including Haiti. Malaria and Dengue fever are commonly known borne disease but Chikungunya? that’s something else….

Chikungunya is transmitting to humans from virus carrying mosquitos and symptoms specific to Chikungunya are fever, rash and joint pains. If you treat fever in the early stage, it should not cause much of problem, however joint pain can last for a while depending your age, original health condition. It has been spreading rapidly in the Caribbean region, and with the summer travel season is around the corner, there is high concern for this disease spreading across North/South America.

As soon as we heard the news about our neighbor country, Dominican Republic suffering from this disease, our mobiliser team has started to visit communities to inform about this disease and what people can do to prevent this.

As seen in Cholera epidemic in Haiti, dieses can spread fast in a country where there are not enough treatment centers (hospitals) and hygiene condition is not ideal. In addition, we have entered the rainy season and due to the lack of drainage system, water is everywhere. We have already seen some actions by NGOs and health care organizations to fight this disease. We hope that this does not turn into another cholera epidemic..

I have been living in Haiti for over a year and never been sick and I hope mosquito finally does not get me! For the next couple months, I do not think I can let insect repellant and mosquito coil out of my sight.

140522_4



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May 22, 2014 in Haiti |

05/01/2014

The Rara.

The second cultural event of Haiti to make it simple! It’s been one year here that I’m here in Haiti. The first time I couldn’t participate at this even, but for this time it was impossible to miss the Rara. Of course the first even is the carnival but for me the Rara looks much more authentic. You can experiment carnival in divers countries in the Caribbean’s.

It wasn’t so easy to understand the meaning of the Rara. From outside, one month before the Easter weekend 20th of April, all nights you see bands with instruments (trumpet, homemade tuba…) walking on the street, making sounds with a group of people behind them and a wheelbarrow with a cooler in it full of drinks. They walk around on the road, with batteries on another wheelbarrow for the light. Time to time the group stops, one man moves forward with a whip and stroke it with passion and intensity several times. Then the group moves again with the music. If you live along a major street you might hate the months of March and April.

The other inconvenient is if you meet them in a road; you will be stuck for a while, few minutes if you are lucky around an hour if you are not. You have to imagine to meet a group of hundred(s) people, in the middle of a high way singing, dancing, playing music and drinking. The only thing to do is enjoy the music be patient and keep calm.

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Back to the beginning. I try to figure out the origin of that strange (for me at this time) event by asking the native around me. What usually come out is that’s related to Voodoo with no more explanation. As it wasn’t enough for me I started to dig deeper to finally get logical explanation. Apparently this is practiced in parts of Africa (West) so definitely related to the slave nation.

Basically, just before the rainy season farmers call the other farmer in the neighborhood for help, in order to prepare the field. And this represents the trip during the night from their original location to the field who ask for support. So why during the night; simply because they work during the day.

This happens for a period of one month after the carnival. But during the Easter weekend all of the groups gather in the City for a parade. The parade starts around 6pm and the party finish the day after and can run until 10am. This year no incidence was reported.

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For me it was really important to participate at this even to understand as it’s culturally important. For us to be present was an opportunity to deliver basic hygiene promotion messages, realize “hand washing stands” and remind people, mainly child that washing hands can reduce significantly the risk of contamination.

Head of Office in JEN Haiti
Ludovic Blanco

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May 1, 2014 in Haiti |

04/17/2014

Two Year of Service at JEN Haiti

Hello, everyone.  I am Jimmy Pierre. I have been working as affairs & finance assistant for JEN since April 9th, 2012. I have two years working for JEN.  

My work is so interesting. I get up early every morning. I go to work. I follow the cashbook; I assist the affairs & finance in many tasks. Sometimes I organize my work. I support the team. I make new friends in my work. JEN staff is a family. I have opportunity to meet new people outside the office. Sometimes I go to the fields where I see the result of what JEN is doing in Haiti. JEN helps Haitian people drink treated water, how to treat it and wash hands.

I learn more stuff. I become better than before with my work and my life does too. I can dream a better life and help my family. What I learn at work helps me in some situation. JEN brings me a new breathe after the earthquake.

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April 17, 2014 in Haiti |

04/03/2014

World Water day

Do you know what special day March 22nd is?
It is World Water day, and this was declared by United Nation since 1993. As our program in Haiti is focused on “Water”, we wanted to do something special for this day to remind everyone the importance of water. So we have decided to have hygiene promotion event at 4 of the communities we have been working. (We currently work with 18 communities) Our team has put a lot of effort in planning this event, involving CAEPA (water management committee) and hygiene promotion volunteers. Main focuses on this event was to teach people about Water protection, treatment and conservation. To show the importance of treated water, we created the slogan for this event “Dlo+Tretman=Sante” meaning treated water is for the health. Our team has put a lot effort in preparing the program including music, play, games and so on. Many volunteers have come out to help in the preparation.

As the poorest country in the west hemisphere, Haiti has been relying on assistance of NGOs and international organizations. We noticed in our activity that this causes Haitian people to be more reluctant in taking responsibility of their communal facilities and they rather rely on NGOs or other organizations to take action for them. One of JEN’s objectives of this program is to assist in creating an environment where community takes control of their own facility and to be self-sustainable in a long run. For the reason above, we tried to create the program for this event, which requires everyone to participate by taking small training using paper play and answer some questions in the form of quiz. We also wanted to take this opportunity to distribute some hygiene kits which were previously donated by UNICEF and MSF. We made sure that people who participated in the training or certain activities in the event to receive this kit. We hope the adults and kids in the community enjoyed the event and also learned important lessons from us!

[Banner for the event]
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[Training on water treatment by JEN staff]
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[Putting a bracelet with the slogan, Dlo+Tretman=Sante]
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[Distributing Hygiene kit]
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[People gathering to see the play and games]
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[Kids getting training on washing hands properly]
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April 3, 2014 in Haiti |

03/11/2014

The motorcycle traffic in Haiti

In 90-91 years, motorcycle traffic were some things that was at the bottom of the scale or may frequent able seen that there was not much on the Haitian walking. In 1996-97 specifically Jacmel, a trader named Edo Zenny currently Senator of the Republic, gave himself a goal to help youth by providing a motorcycle to work and they will have to refund the money over a period defined with an interest. But without knowing what it was going to spread throughout the country. In 2000, began to install some outlets motorcycle in Port-au-Prince and in some provincial towns, without even having time to lift a finger. This traffic became uncontrollable for law enforcement in terms of security and further exacerbates our agricultural production.
On the security front:  according to some police reports with this uncontrollable has increased the rate of insecurity especially in the capital, because it is much easier now for bandits to move and ask banditry on the population. Bikers work in an organized thief group or even as an individual. Despite all effort and investment on traffic regulation the motorbikes by their facility to progress traffic confuse the order, and for the police is still one of the fighting wins. In terms of loss of life the rate is higher than by weapons, first cause the bikers are not qualified enough.
Haiti faces a similar experience since couple a years with less damage on the society. This phenomenon is called “chofè has dwat” in creole. Is basically a young boy in the family leave the province to Port-Au-Prince o become a van driver that travel in the country, and give up school at the same time.
This two society phenomenon, motorbike taxi and van driver, lead to a lack of man power on a field, farmer that feed the country. According to some reports in some parts of the country the live food production decreased by 50%, with a high rate of unemployment work the land as an farmer do not generate enough money to leave and feed their family, thus they really hope that this little amount of money quickly earn can support the family at least until the next day.

March 11, 2014 in Haiti |

01/30/2014

Introduction of Japanese culture in Haiti

Hi everyone!
My name is Jimmy Pierre. I have been working for JEN as administrative assistant for almost two years. I feel comfortable with my colleagues. They are so exciting.

Every weekday I go for work. On Saturday, I teach Japanese language as a volunteer. I am a part of organization of CUSOPHAJwhich promotes Japanese culture. It was founded after the earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12th, 2010. There are about 20 students learning Japanese. Haitian people are interested in learning languages. The number of students increases with each session lasting 4 months. We are at the end of a session. Here are some photos of students taking Japanese exam.

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At the beginning, some Japanese expats who were working in Haiti were the only one teaching Japanese. Others sometimes came and visited us. We learned some Japanese music, some expressions from them. Even the ambassadors visited us. The Embassy of Japan helps us by giving some gifts for the 3 best students of each grade. There are now 6th grades. They will grow up. Each year, the Embassy of Japan organizes with us cultural celebrations.

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[Before Christmas Day]
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[Embassy Projection]
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[Japanese movie with subtitles]
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[Kendo Training]
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[Japanese Dance]
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January 30, 2014 in Haiti |

01/23/2014

4 years have passed since the earthquake disaster

12 January 2014, was the 4th anniversary of an event that we don’t celebrate but it’s in all Haitian minds. 4 year after the earthquakes where are we standing up. Recently an interesting national survey was published concerning the humanitarian response. The main objective was to confirm if the beneficiaries were well targeted and if the NGOs did match the needs of the population. This study covers a long period after the event was realized across the country through more than 1 million individual, for a population estimated around 10 million people (2013).

What was highlighted is that the majority was satisfied by the humanitarian response at 70%. On the top of the list the “free medical services” was the most appreciated. In a country where the care assistance is poor as well as the quality of services (well before the earthquake and still now) this is totally comprehensive. Still today this services provided by national and international organization is really appreciated by the population. However we should not forget that belief is strongly present in Haiti and that traditional medicine is largely used by the population.

At the second place, that we call NFI (Non Food Item) distribution. That can be included in this section it’s the provision of wood, plastic sheeting, sheet metal…more or less what was provided right away to build the first shelters. Even if today few shelter camps are still present, the majority of people could find a permanent house.

In my mind I can remember that media and politics just after the event, where already talking about rebuilding Haiti. 4 years later it’s hard to say that Haiti is built and the politics speeches just confirm.

Nevertheless the contrast is clear and there is no doubt. A recent article in news was doing the apology of a health care center. So far nothing really impressive except that this health care center claim to be the biggest hospital totally powered by solar panel, fully equipped with new materials. Moreover the exceeding electricity is sent to the network.

Such unrealistic project is almost impossible even in my “developed country”. It’s a shame that “developing countries” are the show case of new technologies or drugs. Here is a good example. But trust me the opposite is much more often and the victim are still the same.

Ludovic Blanco
Head of Office in Haiti

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January 23, 2014 in Haiti |

12/26/2013

Come to the end of the year 2013

Here it is the end of the year. Time to draw up a report of the year.

Before that I would like to share with you one of my professional experience. I had the chance to attend a meeting that introduced to the audience the success of an international known priest, which during more than 30 years has conducted programs to realize artificial lakes where the stress in water was high. Forget about is faith, the results are astonishing. The benefice obtained are divers as well as on agriculture, fishery, environment, drinking water…It’s rare to have program so complete that affect several fields.

Such positive thing is so rare that we have to mention it. That brings me to the core of my point. Let’s look back on the year 2013 and see the positive points that I can remember.

First of all this year Haiti was spared by natural disaster. I guess all of you think about earthquake but cyclones are devastating. I do not minimize earthquake but Haiti is the crossroad of the cyclone from Africa, the north of the Caribbean, the south of the Caribbean and the golf of Mexico. Even if Haiti was threatened by several cyclones we were lucky that we didn’t have to experience any of them.

Second point and that is the one of the consequences of the first one. The harvest of the year was very good. This very good news reduces the stress on food in several parts on Haiti, reduce locally the inflation. The climate was in favor of the farmer. We are far from the time that Haiti exported goods but it can be a good start.

The last time I mentioned the environment, it’s armless to do it again. It’s still shy but the laws exist even if it’s not carry on systematically. But people are talking about it in the press you can notice that major towns want to take action on this matter. And again I remember my first days and I can’t compare with today.

Over all of this, even if it’s sensitive to talk about it the actual government is still present. With all difficulties that faces Haiti to be in the government of Haiti should not be easy every day. But what need a country if not political stability. This year wasn’t a break for the government. But at the end of the year the President published the “election law” what calm down the tension. The youngest haven’t known a president which could complete is mandate. It’s too early to say that he will do it but as the purpose of this paper, let’s be positive especially when we know the positive impact. Haiti by geographical location can take advantage on economy and of course tourism. And this government did understand and declared that few cities will be developed trough out it.

The other major positive point of political stability is of course the security. We can’t deny that the security is better every day. The data shows that the situation compare to the previous year (2012) is much better.

To conclude this paper here are my 2014 wishes for Haiti. First of all I really hope that the population will not experience a natural disaster, and my things go to the Philippines’. Secondly, that political stability will be confirmed, to leave the floor to the development. And for the point that I didn’t mention, that the healthcare will be improved as well as the human right.

Ludovic Blanco
Head of Office in Haiti




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December 26, 2013 in Haiti |

12/12/2013

Hope?

When I landed to Haiti after few hours and days my feeling for Haiti was “hopeless”. Rough!!! After 9 months in the country what will be my opinion. As you can notice I’m still in the country. Maybe in the darkness I see alight for Haiti. So what changed? Maybe nothing or maybe I am used to leave here, not sure.

I can remember the second day of my arrival as yesterday. We had to cross a part of Port-Au-Prince (the capital) to reach one sub-base on the field (that was my house office during 2 months). We took more than 2 hours to reach there (for 50 kilometers) and trust me we took a very good driver. My first impression as I told you was nothing to do here.

Tomorrow morning I will have a meeting in Port-Au-Prince. Do you thing that I have to wake up in the middle of the night to be on time. If you think so, let me tell you wrong. Now at the right time we need 45 minute to reach the middle of the PAP. But we can’t still prevent a traffic jam.

Here it is in 9 months I can say I have seen changes. If I take the same road as my first travel in the country I will see people that gather waste around the market where there were mounts of garbage. It’s not Singapore but it’s a huge improvement. Today when I check the news on the web what I saw was impressive. 200 000 objects in Styrofoam were seizure in groceries. If you see outside it’s nothing but it’s a good start. A recent law (10 July 2013) banish those types of material mainly used for take away food, or cups…Could you believe that a country where a part of his population is dying from hunger, were the cholera is killing every week…that can establish this kind of law for the next generation, I call this hope. When recall myself that it’s not so long time ago that in my country the plastic bag was declared forbidden. It’s only few years ago that all incandescent bulb light was definitely replace by low consumption bulb light.

Now let see in my own field. I was invited by the National authority of water and sanitation for a meeting. They present to all invited (organization, firms…) a document of thousands pages, including more than 100 individual documents. What it is? A guide regarding everything concerning water and sanitation. Standards that should be followed subject to prosecution if not respected. All of this compacted in a soft copy. Trust me build something like this after such events, built something like this from nothing, attempt to place order when it’s the chaos so fast it’s a miracle.

Maybe that’s why I’m still in Haiti.



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December 12, 2013 in Haiti |

12/05/2013

A New Project!

JEN Haiti started a new water and hygiene project on the first of December, with financial assistance from the Japanese Foreign Ministry and support from you all. We plan to carry out the project over eight months to solve the water and hygiene issues in Haiti, with three approaches: ensuring access to safe water; establishing a sustainable maintenance management system for water supply facilities by local residents; and promoting better hygiene to prevent diarrhoea and cholera.

The project includes first fixing a 6 km-long water conduit, then building nine kiosk-style water stations and a water tank whose water will be taken from the conduit. This will provide local residents with access to safe water. Kiosk-style water station is box-shaped, with one to three water taps on the outside. Kiosk keeper has charge of water supply; local residents can take water from the taps and pay a fee by the bucket.

【Unusable faucet】
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【Water tank】
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【Kiosk-style water station】
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 We also construct and enhance a framework as well as forming a water committee so that local residents will be able to sustainably maintain the water stations. Water committee members are elected by local residents and collect usage fee from them. This framework is expected to contribute to long-term maintenance management of water supply facilities by local residents.

【Election of water committee members】
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【Water committee training】
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  We also support local residents to recognise risks related to public hygiene and acquire knowledge, which will help to prevent diarrhoea and cholera infection. Volunteer hygiene promoters are recruited from local residents and build their knowledge of hygiene through our training. Meanwhile local residents can improve hygiene knowledge and hygienic habit through home visits and campaigns mainly by the volunteer hygiene promoters.

【Volunteer hygiene promoter training】
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【Hygiene promotion campaign】
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 We would greatly appreciate your continuing support for residents in Haiti.

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December 5, 2013 in Haiti |

11/14/2013

Leaving Haiti again!

Once again I’m about to leave JEN Haiti “for good”!

Following a first stay between March 2010 and July 2011, I am now ending my second stay with JEN Haiti (March 2012- 16 November 2013).

Writing these dates make me realize I already spent 3 years in total in the country!

3 years during which I saw so many changing and improvements!

From the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake to the current situation almost 4 years later so many things happened!

Hurricanes Tomas in 2010, Isaac and Sandy in 2012, the unfortunate cholera outbreak of October 2011, the controversial election of President Martelly   or the different political crisis, civil unrest or complicated relationship with neighboring Dominican Republic have been interesting but intense experiences!

Intense as all these situation were adding on the situation of a country already having problems to recover from the devastating earthquake!

Despite all these problems Haiti has been moving forward steadily and it is difficult today to imagine it took us up to 5 hours to reach Grand Goave from Port au Prince when it only takes 2 hours today!

Difficult to imagine as well all these spontaneous camp along the national road and on dark public squares while the rest of the affected cities looked like bombed with debris all over.

Today most people have been re-localized, squares and road have been renovated/rebuilt and even have light at night through batteries charged by solar panel.

Lots of changing work wise for me and JEN Haiti during the period as well!

I started as Program Officer on a distribution project funded by Japan Platform, was Head of Sub Office on WASH projects funded by JPF and JICA, came back as Head of Project on JICA/YEC project of renovation of the streets of Leogane centre before becoming Head of Office of the mission.

All in all I lived and worked in 4 different offices in Port au Prince, 1 in Grand Goave and 2 in Leogane where the entire team is now regrouped!

A team that is finishing the first project funded by the ministry of foreign affairs of Japan after 7 projects funded by Japan Platform and 3 by JICA!
I wish JEN Haiti will implement many more project and wish good luck to my colleagues for the future!
A French quote says “never 2 without 3”!
I can’t say I’ll come back to Haiti in the future but I’m sure I won’t forget this difficult but fascinating country!

Romain


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November 14, 2013 in Haiti |

10/31/2013

CInauguration of 2 water tanks and 4 kiosks in Lafferonnay (Leogane)

Funded by the ministry of foreign affairs of Japan, the current project JEN Haiti is implementing is once again in the water sector.

In close collaboration with DINEPA (national directorate for water and sanitation) JEN is establishing water management committees (WMCs) in rural areas while renovating or/and building new water facilities.

On Sunday 27th of October 2013, JEN staff took part in the inauguration of the second site to be inaugurated on this project.

After Jeanty, locality of Grand Goave where JEN did build 1 water tank and 2 kiosks, it was this time the moment to inaugurate the second water network concerned by the project.

Located in Leogane the community of Lafferonnay already had a water network in the past. Funded by Haitians from abroad the network had unfortunately been severely damaged by the earthquake of January 2010.

In addition with renovating the network JEN also did improve it by building 4 kiosks where water will be sold for a symbolic 1 Haitian gourde per bucket (2 US cents for 20 litres!). JEN did also build 2 water tanks in order to store more than enough water for evenings use as the pumping system gets its energy from solar panels.

[1 of the 4 kiosks built by JEN on current project funded by MOFA of JAPAN]
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Logistically supported by JEN and prepared by the members of the WMC and the hygiene promotion volunteer team of the locality the ceremony did last 2 hours starting with an official presentation of the members of the WMC and the concept of self-management of water distribution in within the community.

[President of WMC introducing the members to the population]
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It is the first time JEN is inaugurating a network where payment of water would be by consumption instead of a monthly fee regardless of the use.

It is actually a fairly new requirement from DINEPA as the subscription system has shown its limits the last few years. In some communities the amount of registered families is so small that it is impossible to take enough money out of the budget in order to give a little salary or incentive to the kiosk worker... difficult in these conditions to find someone motivated to work on an almost full time position for free!

With the system of payment per bucket the position of kiosk worker becomes much more attractive and motivating as 25% of the income will be the salary of the employee!

In a place like Lafferonnay the “salary” won’t reach the minimum 5 US Dollars/day imposed by Haitian labour law but in the other hand the position is quite comfortable as opening hours are generally not more than 6 hours a day and the work quite easy.

In term of sustainability as well this new policy should have significant effects as it guaranty benefits for the Water Management Committee, allowing it to repair or replace in the future whatever has to be fixed or changed.

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October 31, 2013 in Haiti |

10/17/2013

Haitian army about to reborn

In 1804 the Haitian army did celebrate proudly its creation with the independance of the country, first colony ever to liberate itself from its coloniser. (France on the occasion)

Acting as a regular army for more than 190 years with some up and down such as the american invasion in 1915, the FADH (armed forces of Haiti) were dismantled in 1995 under president Aristidewho feared another “Coup d’etat” coming from the soldiers.

Actually the haitian army was involved in most of the “coups” between the fall of dictator Jean Claude “BB Doc” Duvalier in 1986 and 1995. (13 differents governements in just 9 years!)

During its campaign in 2010, current president Martelly promised re-establishment of a national force, pleasing so the numerous haitians unhappy with the presence since 2004 of the United Nations peacekeeping force called MINUSTAH.

If creation of a new force hasn’t been mention much during the first 2 years of president Martelly’s mandate, it has been a huge surprise for everybody to learn about the return in the country of 41 young haitians trained discretely by the army of Ecuador during 10 months.

Back in Haiti beginning of September 2013, these young soldiers have all been assigned in Artibonite for a practise.

Trained as technician and ingeniors these men are the first member of the new haitian army. An army that would secure borders and coastal lines in the future, an army that would help the national police in its fights against drug and other traffics, an army that would help its fellow citizens in case of natural disaster.

For now the 41 newly trained soldiers don’t carry any weapon and won’t before 2015 earliest.

The fact they don’t carry weapons is welcomed by the population but still there are many questions with no answers yet!
How many people will compose the force eventually? When are they gonna carry weapons? How the force will share tasks with the PNH (Haitian National Police)?
What will happen with the previous members of the haitian army?
Despite being 18 years older (!) most of them want to join the new force, which the governement strongly refuse!

As a result the former members of the army are now joining the political opposition asking for dismissal of president Martelly by the end of the year!
Lots of questions and potential issues to be raised soon for sure!



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October 17, 2013 in Haiti |

10/03/2013

Hurricane season 2013, entering the final part…

Since it officially started June 1st, the hurricane season has been very nice with Haiti for now.

Announced as a hurricane season to be feared with 18 tropical waves predicted and from which 8 should be given a name… meaning being at least a tropical storm, a terrible destructive hurricane for the worst!
So far Haiti can consider itself as still very lucky.

After tropical storms Chantal and Dorian that collapsed just before reaching Haiti’s shore at the beginning of July (already mentioned on a previous blog), numerous tropical waves and storm have been identified and followed carefully by all the specialists and all the Islands of the Caribbean.
Last in date, tropical storm Gabrielle that changed its route surprisingly IN FAVOR of Haiti!

While storm and hurricanes almost always tend to change their routes to hit Haiti, once again mother nature decided to spare the poorest country of the western hemisphere!

Still we’re only halfway through….

The hurricane season ends officially at the end of November and every Haitian can remember Thomas in November 10 or Sandy last late October!
In addition to these surprisingly pleasant turns in storms trajectory the 2013 hurricane season is amazingly dry.

If it helped preventing another cholera severe outbreak, the drought is becoming a serious problem when it comes to agricultural matter!

The spring harvest results have been just published and the result isn’t good… the first harvest of this year represents only 60% of the 2009 one (last solid reference before January 10 earthquake). It is a bit better than last year but with the constant and regular inflation times are getting really difficult for many Haitians.

Even if inflation did tend to reduce lately it is today estimated that 1.5 million people are living under food security stress.

Another consequence of the drought is of course access to water. Even in Leogane where the water table is known to be rich most of the wells are basically empty!

In JEN office for example it now takes more than an hour to refill the water tank while it only took 20 minutes to our small electric pump to do the job back in May!
Limited access to water also creates fertile environment for cholera somehow… not in urban environment where heavy rain would for sure spread the disease by mixing clean and dirty waters! But in the remote areas of the countryside limited access to water means many more people and animals sharing the last accesses!

At date 35,000 people have been infected already this year in Haiti!
If the total amount decreases in comparison with 2011 and 2012, the last few months saw a rise in fatalities as 1.4% of the people affected die countrywide, some remote areas reaching 4% when an acceptable rate of fatality should be under 1%...

So… should we hope for rain, save agriculture but get cholera rising in large cities or should we hope for drought, which will spare the cities of severe cholera outbreak but will see terrible rate of fatality in remote areas and severe food insecurity for many?
Fortunately it’s for nobody to decide!
What’s sure is that we entering the second part of the hurricane season!
And the bigger threat is still… HURRICANE!



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October 3, 2013 in Haiti |

08/22/2013

Hurricane season 2013, so far…

Starting officially 1st of June, the hurricane season is a very important period of the year in Haiti.

Very important for agricultural reason as rain is more than needed for the second harvest of the year. Very important as Haitians from abroad do choose the summer holidays period to visit their homeland. Very important as the period is full of festivities!

Between re- born “Flower Carnival”, regular parties and summer beach parties, opportunities of celebrating are numerous! Communal week parties are also organized in all the main cities of Haiti one after the other during summer time!

This year for example Petit Goave did celebrate the 350th anniversary of its creation mid-August with the most famous singers and bands of Haiti, including President Martelly himself, leaving his hat of president on the occasion to jump back into artist Sweet Micky ’s jacket!!!

Despite all these festivities nobody can forget we’re in the heart of the hurricane season… the temperature is really high and humidity as well even if this year we’re missing… rain!!!

Announced as a hurricane season to be feared with 18 tropical waves predicted and from which 8 should be given a name… meaning being at least a tropical storm, a terrible destructive hurricane for the worst!

Haiti has a tight history with hurricane for being on the crossroad of the 3 main trajectories used by hurricanes since they have been officially recorded! In one way or the other it always looks like storm and hurricane are meant to come towards Haiti! Coming from Africa either through the Lesser Antilles or north of them or coming from the South over Jamaica most of the storms and hurricanes somehow manage to get to Haiti!

Being really mountainous and completely deforested with less than 2% of the territory occupied with trees, Haiti is extremely vulnerable to floods and landslide when heavy rains!

So far this year Haiti is lucky!

2 tropical storms in a row, called Chantal and Dorian, built up early in the West Atlantic Ocean with ideal trajectory to hit Haiti… Twice in a row, the storm did collapse just before reaching Haiti! Chantal especially which collapsed only around 50 kilometres before hitting southern Haiti! Lucky with storm, sure! But really unlucky with rain!

The lack of regular rain in most of the parts of the country make specialist fearing a drought or at least such poor autumn harvest that many area might have to face a severe food crisis in the coming months.

As for storm… well, the season is far from being over especially if we think back into 2008 when successively Fay, Gustave, Hanna and Ike did hit Haiti between August 16th and September 6th and that last year Sandy hit Haiti on October 24th …

The hurricane season is so definitely not over!

August 22, 2013 in HaitiStaff |

08/08/2013

Carnaval des fleurs (Flowers Carnival)

In Haiti, Carnival is by far the most important party/celebration of the year way ahead of Christmas. While traditional carnival always takes place in February and countrywide, the capital Port au Prince has a second one, called Flowers Carnival and organized in summer.

Reborn in 2012 after 30 years of abandon, the carnival saw this year more than 15,000 people dressed up and close to a million people attending the 3 days event.
Originally symbol of Jean Claude “BB Doc” Duvalier presidency, the event is today marketed as tourism promotion.

It is actually during summer time that most Haitians from abroad come back to the island to visit their families. By organizing an extra carnival in the middle of the summer, a chance is so given to Haitian from abroad to celebrate with their fellow citizens.

According to officials around 1500 extra tourists/visitors arrived daily at Toussaint Louverture airport the week before the event.
Hotels and restaurant also confirmed a peak in their frequentations while local informal economy did benefit as well from these 3 days.

Unlike last year no major incident has been reported and plans for next year are already discussed. A delegation from Brazil also took part in the event as observer in order to identify what could be improved in the future and so slowly make Flower Carnival as important as February one!


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August 8, 2013 in Haiti |

07/25/2013

Inauguration of water tank and 2 kiosks in Jeanty (Grand Goave)

Funded by the ministry of foreign affairs of Japan, the current project JEN Haiti is implementing is once again in the water sector.

In close collaboration with DINEPA (national directorate for water and sanitation) JEN is establishing water management committees (WMCs) in rural areas while renovating or/and building new water facilities.

The first construction site completed is Jeanty where the official inauguration took place on June 30th with a large participation of the population.

Logistically supported by JEN and prepared by the members of the WMC and the hygiene promotion volunteer team of the locality the ceremony did last 5 hours starting with an official presentation of the members of the WMC and the concept of self-management of water distribution in within the community.

Focus has of course been put on the necessity for all the households to pay the fair monthly subscription fee (which represents less than 1 US Dollar a month) in order to ensure sustainability of constant water distribution in the community.

Actually Jeanty already had an electric water pump given by another INGO in 2010 but no clean and secure environment for distribution and no storage capacity which represented a really big problem as electricity is distributed quite randomly and irregularly in Haiti (Usually a few hours per day minimum).

With a water tank capacity of 60,000 litres for 154 household it is now a potential reserve of 390 litres per family available if for any reason electricity should be missing for several days.
In addition the construction of 2 kiosks with chlorination system guaranty drinkable water and much less waiting time than previously.

[Water tank on the right and nearby kiosk officially inaugurated]
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“DLO SE LAVI!” (Water is life!) is probably the most repeated message in Haiti.
True enough but… CLEAN water only is life!
And clean water from the kiosks can be contaminated later on if users don’t respect proper hygienic behaviour.
Therefore a very long part of the ceremony is articulated around hygiene knowledge through quiz, games and small theatre plays.

Managed by the volunteers previously trained by JEN staff and organized in music all these ludic activities allow the active participants to win a small hygiene kit composed of soap, toilet paper, tooth brush and paste, etc. As usual children were the most enthusiastic, which correspond perfectly to JEN targeted population as children do represent future and are quite often the ones contaminating the water of the family by dipping unwashed hands in the family bucket.

Now that the construction has been completed and inaugurated the most challenging starts for the water management committee members. Will they be able to collect the subscription fee regularly and so be able to repair the network when needed?

Will Haiti be hit by a hurricane so soon that money collected won’t be enough?
Today nobody can answer these questions unfortunately.

What’s sure is that JEN staff will keep supporting and helping the WMC members until the end of the project in October and hopefully much longer.

[Hygiene promotor volunteers in short play about cholera]
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July 25, 2013 in Haiti |

07/11/2013

Introducing new AFO in Haiti

Hi Everyone!
My name is Shiho Wada, newly joined administrative and financial officer at JEN Haiti.
I have been living in Port-au-Prince for past couple months and I am very happy to be working with JEN to support their activities in Haiti.
I have lived abroad since the age of 16 and I hope to have more adventures along the way. I am still new to NGO work, but I hope to learn great deal from my colleagues who are very experienced in the field.

Our office in Leogane is quite big and surrounded by greenery, couple cows and goats hanging outside and very peaceful. There was quite a bit of rain during the month of May and June, but now the rain has stopped and the temperature is over 30 Celsius everyday. However, hurricanes always find a way to come to Haiti, so we will need to be careful with that near future. At last, I wanted to share a photo of the t-shirt we wear at work. It is blue for WATER(?) and explains how to wash your hands properly 

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July 11, 2013 in Haiti |

06/27/2013

New storage facility for JEN Haiti

When the decision of regrouping all JEN Haiti offices in Leogane had been taken concerns for storage became a real issue as if the new selected office was ideally located it didn’t have any garage or safe storage facility.
The main reason for regrouping the offices being the security situation in Grand Goave, the storage issue was postponed.

It actually wasn’t postponed long as one week after being installed in Leogane JEN did receive a RubHall from INGO Handicap International as a donation.

Not being actually from the famous brand RubHall the tent received has all its characteristics though: very big (24 meters long for 10 wide!), resistant and water proof!
Preparation of the ground, cutting any branches in the 2 big mango trees, finding the company able to dismantle and reassemble the tent and then insulate the tent from potential floods required of course quite a lot of time and energy (and a bit of money!) but at the end the investment is worth it!
Closing its activities in Haiti, Handicap International also had some wash items to be donated so JEN Haiti took the opportunity to also make a stock of diverse items such as soap, buckets, jerry cans or chlorine tablets.

Divided in 2 the new storage facility has so now a double function: being on one side used as storage facility for the construction team and as preposition of wash items as part of hurricane season contingency plan on the other side!
With 1500 jerry cans, 8500 anti-bacteriologic soap or 230,000 chlorine tablets available JEN Haiti would be able for the first time in 4 rainy seasons to respond immediately in case of major hurricane and/or severe cholera crisis, which is a high probability in Leogane district and in Haiti generally during the rainy season.

As a matter of fact a small quantity of items have already been distributed these days in Cabaret, a small village on the edge of the mountain where most people do use the water from the river and where a dozens of people had been victims of severe diarrhoea lately.

[It took only half a day for the 13 men of the specialized company to reassemble the tent!]

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[Quite over dimensioned for now, the tent will allow easy storage if larger project in the future.]
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June 27, 2013 in Haiti |

06/13/2013

[New content in the Newsletter] Correspondence between Keiko Kiyama and

Dear Keiko-san,

How are you doing?

Five months have passed since Keiko-san visited Goman Village in the mountain to make an inspection in January.

On May 12, a general assembly has been organized that all the households participated in and two important decisions have been taken.
The first one is to cooperate together to save water.
It seems that the local residents will be suffered from lack of water before the full-scale rainy season, it was decided to save water for the purposes such as washing in order to secure drinking water.
And the second one is to keep collecting the water management fee from each household.
Up until now, it has been collected from each family. Since there are a lot of elderly people and orphans in this village, some families are unable to pay it.

However, it is possible for Goman WMC to collect the water management fee from 90 % of the local residents.
It is because that the local residents have a firm understanding of the meaning and necessity of the correct hygiene knowledge.
And it is because that, every day, hygiene promoters are calling for the improvement of hygienic habits and the prevention of infectious disease caused by water.
I strongly realize that hygiene promoters and WMC are actively participated in the daily improvement of the lives of local residents in Goman.

Romain Briey (Haiti Office)

To read Keiko Kiyama’s response to this letter from a staff member,
please look at our latest newsletter.
If you would like to get access to the latest newsletter, please send an
email to:
info@jen-npo.org

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June 13, 2013 in Haiti |

05/30/2013

4 months since the project being launched

It has been four months since the project for water sanitation and environment supported by supporters of JEN andthe Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan was launched.

At present, people in Haiti hardly have access to clean water, or even if their communities have the facility for water supply, they do not have their own system to maintain it.
Additionally, since the local citizens do not have sufficient knowledge about the sanitation of water, they easily tend to catch diarrhea or become infected with cholera.
JEN continues its assistance to resolve this urgent issues related to water sanitation.   

Sometimes we need to travel on very rough routes to get to the project sites, like shown in this picture.

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Explaining to local citizens about water maintenance committee and its significance.

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The committees answered every question from local citizens until they could understand completely.
Constructing facilities for water supply (water tank and kiosk) which are nearing completion.

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We would very much appreciate your kind continued support to the activities in Haiti.





【JEN is now accepting donations. Your help would be very much appreciated.
DONATE here

May 30, 2013 in Haiti |

05/16/2013

A new (single) office for JEN Haiti!

Once again, JEN Haiti will move its office. Actually JEN Haiti will regroup its 2 offices from the capital Port au Prince and the provincial Grand Goave in only one large in Leogane.

After more than 3 years in Haiti, the reason of keeping 2 offices was actually questionable.
In 2010 in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake of January 12th, the traffic conditions were so difficult that it was obvious the field teams couldn’t keep spending between 3 and 5 hours one way to reach its field of activity.
The time lost in constant huge traffic jams added to the safety risks on the road were more than enough to decide to open a second office in the province in June 2010.
Today the situation has changed quite a lot!
With no more debris on the road, bridges reconstructed and major improvements regarding the condition of the national road heading south, the 70 km trip to Grand Goave has become quite smooth and easy.

On a good day only 1 hour and half is required to reach Grand Goave.
In addition almost all JEN Haiti activities are now in Leogane, located half way!
Regrouping is so the best way to reduce support costs and gain efficiency in logistics and communication between all staffs especially.

Ideally located 250m from the national road, 300m from a MINUSTAH camp, 500m from 2 petrol stations and a kilometre from Leogane centre the new office fits security criteria just perfectly!
Regarding safety on the road we’ll also diminish risks drastically as 17 sites of operation out of 18 are located in within 5 kilometres!
Only Jeanty, in Grand Goave commune would be now more than 10 minutes away when it is now (and until the end of this week) the exact opposite!

Being altogether in the same office will also allow head of office and administration/finance team to visit the sites much more often, facilitating communication and preventing misunderstandings.
It will also facilitate relationship with local authorities and management of the mission when an international staff is on leave or simply sick.
Coordination with the other actors based in Leogane will also be easier and logistics should also benefit from the regrouping as Leogane has many construction shops when Grand Goave has only one.
As for Port au Prince shopping it will only take around an hour to be in the centre of the Capital, which was the time we needed not that long ago to reach the main shops in within Port au Prince!   

After a bit more than 3 years in Haiti, Monday 6th of May will definitely be a new start for the mission, for the better with no doubt!

May 16, 2013 in Haiti |

05/02/2013

Housing issues in Haiti

A bit more than 3 years after the devastating 2010 January 12’s earthquake, the housing situation in Haiti is today a very popular topic.

Foreign journalists were probably the first ones pinpointing the quite slow progress regarding the re-lodging of the victims of the quake.

3 years later the government of Haiti published statistics stating that 79% of the people that were living in camps has been re-lodged.

If it difficult to confirm these data it is quite easy in the other hand to list the numerous difficulties the government of Haiti and NGOs had to face while tackling the issue.

To start with, all actors involved in construction or reconstruction had to deal with logistics and space. As a matter of fact terrorized people had built spontaneous camps on public squares, football fields and roundabout. Even on the golf course in wealthy neighbourhood of Petion Ville!

With an enormous amount of debris to remove (1000 trucks working 24/7 during 1000 days was one of the first estimation of the needs) and no space available, the task was serious.

Another big issue was (and still is) the re-localization of these hundreds of thousands of people.

There is not much work in Haiti and Port au Prince is already overcrowded with around 2 million of inhabitants (and is expected to reach 6 million by 2030). The only location to re-localize all these people was on the northern edge of the city, a remote area with absolutely no shade, no water nor public transport and of course nor work…

Understandably reluctant to move out of the city most of the IDP (internal displaced people) refused this option.

When most debris had been removed another serious issue regarding ownership of land appeared. In Haiti 90% of the land is owned by less than 10% of the population so many IDPs, simple renters, couldn’t benefit from a temporary shelter (T-shelters) in the first place as the risk of seeing the owners taking over the newly built shelters to rent them was extremely high.

The concept of temporary shelter also brought some difficulties and misunderstandings.

While the “humanitarian emergency world” defines a T-shelter as a temporary construction of 15 square meters able to host IDPs for at least 3 years and costing less than 1500US Dollars, many Haitians thought INGOs will build proper solid houses, somehow replacing fully what had been destroyed by the earthquake.

For all those that were living in shacks before the earthquake in the other hand no deception as a simple T-shelter made of plywood and covered with CGI sheets was still better than their previous place. But electricity, running clean water and jobs are still missing.

With a population growing that fast, the housing crisis Haiti is facing is unfortunately far from disappearing.

May 2, 2013 in Haiti |

04/04/2013

A very sad story!

His name is G., he is a Haitian and has worked for JEN Haiti as a day guardian for almost 3 years.

G. is originally from a remote rural area of the southern peninsula where there is simply no access to education or work.

Arrived in Port au Prince as a young adult attracted like so many others by the lights and the supposed attractive employment activity of the capital he joined the enormous crowd of provincial stuck in the capital, surviving no matter what, taking life one day after the other.

Not really strongly built he always has been more or less sick while working with JEN the past 3 years but he never wanted to get any proper medical check in MSF (Doctors without borders).

Instead he used his paid holidays and his little money to get to private hospitals without telling anybody each time he felt too bad.

When he got into coma for the first time beginning of March the other guards and the drivers of Port au Prince’s office finally told me they suspected him to carry “the virus”.

Rarely named aloud, AIDS is still a disease people are ashamed of in Haiti… meeting his wife a bit later on, obviously contaminated as well, did unfortunately confirm the diagnosis.

G, once out of coma, still kept denying his sickness, blaming instead some voodoo curse.
From this moment he took all the wrong decisions, spending all his money in voodoo priests and some ancient rituals for which he of course had to pay again.

Expelled from his rented flat by the owner as soon as that one realized his renter had AIDS, G. ended up in “Shalom church”, a huge kind of paying no man’s land where thousands of people gather every day, expecting a miracle for them or their families.

It is where we finally found him after chasing him around the city for 2 weeks. He was in a very poor condition, lying on a dusty platform of concrete with hundreds of people more or less in the same condition.

I wish I’ve never been there honestly… in the other hand it was there we met the older brother of G., a decent man also trying to survive in Port au Prince jungle and taking care of his dying brother’s little 3 years old boy.

Understanding perfectly the situation he immediately agreed on the urge to test the child and register him in one of the numerous free AIDS Care Center that exist in Haiti if it is confirmed he’s infected too.

This is probably the saddest part of this story! G. could have benefit from free treatment if only he hadn’t denied his contamination!

How many other Haitians are in the same case?

How many more will die in unbelievable pain because of ignorance and fear of stigmatization and discrimination?

Romain

April 4, 2013 in Haiti |

03/21/2013

New Program Officer “Ludovic Blanco”

My humanitarian experience start soon after my high school but it wasn’t so obvious. I started the school to be a fireman (officer). But really fast I realized that this profession is not for me and that it will close many opportunities. So I decided to focus on water management, first of all for public health in order to reach the best water quality to avoid contamination in the public health centre where patient are weak. At this time I had the chance to spend 4 months in Romania for my training. After 4 months I had the opportunity to follow a course in the United Kingdom in water supply and sanitation where I could specialize my technical knowledge in management in relief context and developing countries. At this point I made my thesis in India in the poorest state (Uttar Pradesh). My task was to assess the possibility to implement household water treatment.

Those overseas experiences were for me the first. As I am from a little island calls Reunion lost in the middle of the Indian Ocean, old French colony now a French territory, I did not have the opportunity to travel like this. When I left my family and my small land I decided to take all chance to open my mind and meet people with different point of view, knowledge, culture…

Straight after my study I went in Burundi with a French NGO specialized in WASH. I was the program manager of the project. I spend 18 months there were I could put in place my knowledge, and had my first real professional experience. I manage 3 programs in total in Burundi. The first one was to manage water, sanitation and hygiene promotion in a Congolese camp (with 6500 refugees). My second and third projects were to establish water network, provide hygiene awareness, and train water committee and to train the public utility to manage in a proper way their networks.

After that I had a break of 1 year and half in France, where I could work for a public service in household waste water treatment.

After this period it was the time to go back to the field. I work one more time for a French NGO in Jordan in response to the Syria Crisis. We were the first NGO work in WASH in the first refugee camps. I spend 8 months there. My main duties were to provide water and manage waste water in 4 small camps, and provide hygiene awareness and distribute diapers in a camp of 50-60 000 refugees in add to the 4 small camps.

I finally joined JEN in March in Haiti. The program is similar to those I did in Burundi. I have joined JEN first by a meet of one person in Jordan.

Beside that I like to practice sport, extreme sport when I have the opportunity.

March 21, 2013 in Haiti |

03/07/2013

JEN & DINEPA, soon 3 years of close collaboration!

Arrived in Haiti only a few days after the January 2010 earthquake, JEN started its activities with distribution of emergency shelter kits for 4000 household in the rural areas of Leogane district before concentrating its activities in WASH sector (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene).
Created in 2009, just before the earthquake, DINEPA (National Directorate for Potable Water and Sanitation) was back then Wash Cluster Lead, helping INGOs understanding the Haitian context and specificities.

JEN first program in Wash sector was about renovating existing water pumps (105 in total), drilling 10 new boreholes in order to create new water access and promoting hygiene in all the communities concerned by the programme. (Following UNICEF guidelines, training and material)
Introduction to the concept of water management committee (WMC) following DINEPA was also a very important part of the programme as it did prepare today’s activities and Haiti’s future!

Actually since these first steps in 2010, JEN had realized all its activities in close collaboration with DINEPA! Status for WMC had been officialised in late 2011 and since then JEN is working hard in helping the communities of Leogane district of getting and especially self managing new collective water facilities, necessary step in these rural area before DINEPA would be able to connect all houses to the national network, ambitious plan which will take years or decades...

Promoting DINEPA on T-shirts, banners or painting on the newly built structures is also a way of promoting future self reliance regarding drinkable water access. It is also a way of promoting possibilities of changing and future in a country where inhabitants are so used to depend on the international community.

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Relationship with DINEPA has been so important and usual along these years that JEN also has special relationship with DINEPA in the project of renovation of streets of Leogane centre financed by Japan.

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Present on the project in order to install water pipes underground before completion of a new sanitation system of drainage canals, the little team of 10 workers got equipped by JEN with helmets and safety vests and followed a security training given by JEN staff, using a film produced by the ministry of public construction.
Supervision of the team and coordination with the others actors on site is also on JEN responsibility.

On national plan relationship between JEN and DINEPA is also going well.

Together in the working group “Capitalisation and lessons learnt after 3 years after January 10th 2010 earthquake in Haiti”, JEN and DINEPA went a bit further a couple of weeks ago in their relationship as a few T-shirts JEN staff and volunteers are wearing were given to the Director of Communication of DINEPA, Mr Stephane LACROIX.

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After 3 years of close collaboration JEN is unfortunately not registered officially with DINEPA yet!
The first document needed being the national registration JEN has had so many problems with…
Fortunately this will be soon an old story and registering with our partner DINEPA will be a formality, allowing us to implement many more projects concerning access and self management of drinkable water!

March 7, 2013 in Haiti |

02/28/2013

GOMAN, a place where difficult access rhymes with success!

Located 200m above sea level, the small community of GOMAN (Commune of grand Goave) has a million dollar view on the sea to offer to anybody who’s willing to leave national road number two and attack the climb!

The road starts in the mud before turning really fast into a mix between a dirt track and a river bed covered by rocks on extremely steep stretches.

The first time JEN tried to visit this community the car couldn’t make it, the team finishing by foot…

Arrived finally on the hill top the team was welcomed by inhabitants surprised and happy to see a little bunch of humanitarian workers arriving sweating in their locality.

After a quick introduction of JEN project to the local characters of the community we got invited for a new walk, downhill this time, in order to have a look on the only water source in the area.

30 minutes! 30 minutes climbing down a hill known as “Bouda Chita”, literally “Bottom seated”, trying every second step not to fall!

Arrived quite deep in what looks like a smaller version of a canyon we heard and saw the water! A small water fall with an impossible dangerous rocky access, some broken pipes here and there and downstream a group of people washing clothes, bathing or collecting water, sharing in addition the place with animals drinking!!!

The broken pipes made us think people had tried already to organize themselves regarding water issues, which was fast confirmed with the explanation given by the alder in the village.

After the regular process of assessment and survey GOMAN came of course as a location in which JEN should work. The need was extreme, this population is extremely vulnerable and quite isolated even though road national two is visible far downhill.

No use to precise the work has been particularly difficult for the construction team as items such as tools, iron or cement had to be transported all the way to the water source.

Sometimes partially by car or truck but mostly by motorbikes, manpower or donkeys!
Work on the track has been needed and the population fixed it!

San became an issue? The population started excavating directly in the mountain!

The enthusiasm, participation and involvement of the community have been also really important in the activities of hygiene promotion and definition and establishment of concept of WMC (water management committee) as the entire population could see how much improvement in their everyday life the project would bring!

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I recall the visit organized later while JPF monitoring mission was in Haiti. All hygiene promoters and WMC members were present, proud to wear their tee shirts and explain how life had become better since they had a water reservoir and a safe kiosk!

February 28, 2013 in Haiti |

02/07/2013

KITA NAGO, much more than a simple community symbol(part2)

What I didn’t know before reading a great article in a local newspaper was that they were many other symbols in Kita Nago.
A common expression in créole says “Mwen pap fè yon pa Kita, yon pa Nago”. Literally “I don’t make a step Kita nor Nago” which means “I don’t move”! Or “I don’t make a small step, neither a long one” when used in second degree.
Kita and Nago are also 2 nations among the 21 in voodoo religion. The Kitas have fragile feet while the Nagos are great endurance walker.

The Y shape of the wood refers to the Yoruba, tribe that was taken into slavery on a large scale. It also refers to a voodoo ceremony during which believers eat Yam.
The wood, oak, was once upon a time one of the biggest richness of the country and did contribute in a large scale to pay France the debt for Haiti’s independence.

The all project is also an opportunity to show that Haitians can do things without any foreign help as all resources in the project are locals.

700km so 14 stages of 50km, representing the 14 stations leading to Golgotha, meaning so that a failure can be turned on a great victory.
The walk is also the opportunity to recommend Haitians citizens to all plant a tree the day Kita Nago crosses their town in this year dedicated to environment in Haiti.
No doubt, the long road between les Irois and Ouanaminthe will keep the name of Kita Nago Road for long.
People say the wood is talking! They’re probably right! By reminding all these symbols the wood has talked to many lost souls and brought hope in many communities already.

By the way, did you know Kita and Nago were 2 geographically exact opposite points in Japan?

February 7, 2013 in Haiti |

01/24/2013

KITA NAGO, much more than a simple community symbol(part1)

“Kita Nago, ritual walk is now approaching Leogane, creates a huge traffic jam, avoid area if possible”.

When this message landed on my Blackberry through the security instant messaging network I didn’t really understand why a crowd of people were approaching the town. If it was a usual ritual walk how comes I never heard about it?

Soon after information arrived! Plenty! Too many actually! Contradicting each other and creating more confusion than anything!
At the same time the crowd arrived in the town centre, peaceful, obviously happy and exhausted!

Who wouldn’t be as all these people were taking shifts to carry altogether a big Y shape piece of wood that looked extremely heavy. A very nice piece of wood actually, some old oak tree that can still be found in the southern peninsula of Haiti.

A week or so later I know much more about Kita Nago.
Started on 1st January (anniversary of independence) in Les Irois (extreme south west of Haiti) the walk is on its way to Ouanaminthe (extreme north east of the country), covering a distance of 700 km.

Carrying altogether the wood, Haitians taking part in the event want to show their fellow citizens that it is possible to do anything if only everybody gives a hand!!!
In a country were community spirit has been destroyed by decades of chaos I did find the symbol interesting and the initiative worth to be acknowledged as a unique one.

(To be continued)

January 24, 2013 in Haiti |

01/10/2013

Education in Haiti

I am Berlande Virgille, the Field Officer in JEN Haiti. I have been working with JEN since 21 January 2010, about one week after the earthquake that devastated my country. Today I would like to describe one of my biggest concerns: the challenges of the educational system in Haiti.

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The educational system in Haiti is characterized by significant exclusion and structural deficiency. Education cost remains high in proportion to Haitian family revenues. About 40 percent of low income families have difficulty to have access to school, especially in rural areas. Public schools only cover 10 percent of the total demand for basic education. In addition, parents must pay school fees to enroll their children in the public school system.

In general, the academic year begins in October and ends in July. With two vacations at Christmas and Easter holidays, the number of hours in the school year is considerably reduced. Certain parents can afford to pay for private lessons for their children to cover for the reduced hours, but they are the minority. .

French remains the language of instruction in the private schools, but Creole and French are used in the public schools.

The textbooks also have always been a concern. Mostly imported, they are often
in short supply and their price, like all imported products, can be impossible for families who
must strive to put food on the table. Many children go to school without books. In addition, the books are not adapted to the Haitian environment. The Haitian system of education is heavily influenced by the French counterpart.

The efforts of Haitian governments to educate their people may seem sincere but, so
far, they have not yielded remarkable results. A serious reform in order to treat education as a true instrument of progress and development. Education does not appear to be
focused on the specific needs of the country. From the outset, the orientation taken by the
Administration of public education had nothing to do with the reality of Haiti except for the
fact that it served the particular interest of an elite who send their children to study in France
and considered themselves French.

Finally, what I see is the Education in Haiti is a business. For some of the schools, the
objective is clearly more directed towards making money than towards educating children, and
often the classes are overfilled and the teachers are unqualified. Among the schools in the private sector we found the very best and the very worst of what the Haitian education sector
has to offer. We find a category of well reputed elite schools, what Haitians call”Lekol Tet
Neg”. Most of them are religiously founded and almost all of them are urban-based. They are well equipped, have the best teachers, and are the obvious choice for the privileged families who would never consider sending their children to a public school. In Port-au-Prince, private primary schools are found on almost every street corner. Because of its density, people call them “Lekol Borlette” meaning “Lottery schools”, named after the small lottery stands that are also found on every corner. I think that instead of making “Lekol Borlette” or “Lottery schools” we should be making more public schools where we can have qualified teachers, learning materials and suitable school buildings so more children in the street will have possibility to get an education.

Berlande Virgille
Field Officer
JEN Haiti

January 10, 2013 in Haiti |

12/20/2012

We don't need no education


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Haiti.
80% of people live under the poverty line.
More than 90% of schools are private. They are mainly religious, and without control on what is teach to children.
Compare these two figures; it would explain you a lot about Haiti.
Education is obviously one of the main key to rebuild this country. It is even perhaps the only genuine path, which would take generations though.

Over the last decades very few Haitians have enjoyed a good education. This lack of education can be felt on daily basis. Through the very few people able to speak another language than Creole, and sometimes French for instance. Or through reactions or questions from people we meet.

Here are some excerpts of discussions we have had over the last few weeks. They are proper words of Haitians we work with. Of course they are only examples and all our discussions are not as amazing. But it could give you a sense of what is the reality in terms of education.

-Boss, is Denmark a cold or hot region of France?
-It is quite cold during winter, but it is not a French region, it is a country by itself.
-HO ! really? So why do people go there instead of France?
-Perhaps because they live there, no?
-Ha, ok. And Cameroon, is it a hot or cold region of France?

In Haiti, JEN works only on education through hygiene promotion or community development. Yet what gives more sense to what we do here is the time we spend with staff debating, discussing, explaining; most of the time out of working hours. This is not reported to donors, they would not fund such non-formal education, at so small scale, anyway.
But this is one of the best parts of the humanitarian job.
This is one of the specifics of a genuine humanitarian NGO.

December 20, 2012 in Haiti |

12/06/2012

The Haitian Pride

If you travel in the plains between Leogane and Grand Goave, so in our areas of intervention, you will see plenty of fields with a kind of high green plant. These are sugarcanes, that are obviously used to make sugar, but that are also eaten by people. For one Haitian dollar (5 HTG, so 1/8 of US Dollar approximately) you can have your piece of hunger-killer.

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Nevertheless sugarcanes, including Leogane’s ones, are above all the main component of something much more important for Haitian: Rum. Rum is the true Haitian pride. Especially the most famous one: Barbancourt . Certainly one of the only things Haiti exports all around the world. If Japan is reputed for its whiskies, Haiti can be considered as one of the best rum producer worldwide. If you have the chance, once, to test Barbancourt rum, you could never think it is coming from one of the less developed place in the world, the America’s poorest country. Others rums exist, as in the whole Caribbean islands, such as the Bakara one, but they do not reach the level of quality of Barbancourt.  The basic Barbancourt is 4 years old (called 3 stars). There is also the 5 starts bottle (8 years) and the 8 stars (15 years, almost impossible to find in the country). All aged in oak barrels.

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Quite surprisingly, Barbancourt rum is one of the only things that has resisted to years of deliquescence of the Haitian economy. There are certainly many reasons. But consumption is not one of them. Indeed, very few Haitians drink Barbancourt, which is too much expensive. Most of them drink clerin, which is the first result of sugarcane’s pressure and can be drunk almost immediately. The 3 stars’ Barbancourt bottle of 75 cl of is not sold less than 300 HTG (more often around 375 HTG) while a gallon of clerin (around 4 liters) cost 325 HTG.

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Rum or clerin are of course firstly used to be drunk, as any alcohol in the world. They are sufficiently strong to be quite successful on this issue, whether you add something (such as prune or ginger). It’s not rare to meet people fully drunk, sun and heat supporting the rum to reach the goal of the drinker. A Haitian legend exists about one Japanese who would have been the victim of Haitian rum, but who knows if a legend is true or not?
Another rumour says that drunken people eat cats to recover. Yet experience in the country has shown that cats are not only eaten by alcoholic people, but this is another story.

Rum is also used in some religious celebrations or to fight diseases through mystic celebrations.
To have a sense of cultural adaptation, expatriates of course drink rum. Very often they arrange rum with several flavors. It is then called arranged rum. In Grand Goave, since 2010, regularly rum awards are organized. The last one occurred very recently and JEN team tried to worthily represent the organization with a very specific rum. Unfortunately we could not find anyone to present it as the name of the rum suggests. This is certainly the main reason why JEN did not win this recent competition. It could definitely not be for any other reason.

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We have to be better prepared for the next rum awards. JEN team cannot remain on a failure.

Are you ready to come to help us? Good rum is such a pride for Haitian people that we need to respect them.

December 6, 2012 in Haiti |

11/22/2012

Mysticism

【Excerpt of a voodoo hall’s wall pictured in 2010 in Leogane】
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“Haiti - Society: A woman declared dead in September 2011, found alive on the day of the dead 2012”

This is not a joke. This is the title of an article published this week on Haitian media . Explaining when and how the woman was buried in 2011, and how she “resurrected” in 2012. More than 1 year later. Conditional is not the frame.
The article does not question the “facts”, neither it tries to explain the “miracle”. Almost nobody does actually, except foreigners.

Quite surprisingly for people familiar with monotheist religion, this kind of thing is not so rare in Haiti. So, is Haiti a new Eden or the place where Jesus or another prophet would have decided to come back prior to the so-called Maya’s December 21st? Or is there any other reason behind that?
Actually you cannot understand Haiti, if you do not try understanding why people could take such “information” as granted, or why a relatively serious media could participate to what would appear to external observers as a reinforcement of the lack of education in the country.

Haitians believe en masse to mysticism. This certainly has a direct link with Voodoo, where Evils, Zombies or Vampires are legion. Nevertheless nobody knows if Voodoo is at the origin of so much mysticism, or vice-versa.
But there is something that is certain: mysticism is really useful to explain what you do not understand. Especially when you do not know, or you are not able to look for a proper solution.

Unfortunately, this is the fate of all countries where education is too much neglected.

November 22, 2012 in Haiti |

11/08/2012

From the destination Haiti 2

JEN has been focusing on, the greatest need, water and sanitation projects as an emergent reconstruction support in the Western prefecture for a little than 3 years since May 2010, where suffered the most damage by the earthquake, after implementing the emergency assistance right after the great earthquake occurred in January 2010.

Here is the report on the project sites I inspected. I mainly visited accessible project sites including those in the past. This is because access to many of the project sites was not ensured because of the aftermath of hurricane Sandy hit in the end of October. (As of October 31st, 54 reported to have died in Haiti according to UNOCHA).

The clarification device is installed beside the water well for water clarification by Chlorine.

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Adjoining laundry.

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Here in one of the present project sites, a water tank has been under construction at a fast pace.

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A big tree have fallen to lie over the water, might be caused by the hurricane.

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The beautiful landscape encountered on the way.

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I appreciate your warm and continuing support.

Department/Jumpei Ushikubo

November 8, 2012 in Haiti |

10/25/2012

From the destination Haiti

Had departed Japan on October 18th and changed airplanes at New York, I arrived in Port-au-Prince, the capital city of Haiti, the next day after noon.

This is my first voyage to Haiti.  To be honest, my first impression of it was not positive because a group of pale gray simple frame buildings and refuge tents of emergency provisions jumped to my eyes as far as I looked down the city from the descending airplane just before landing.
However, I felt that friendly and kind attitudes of the local staff of JEN and people around the office swept the impression away.

Currently I have been engaged in the operational coordination in the office Port-au-Prince and I am expected to move to the project site in Leogane, Grand Goave soon.

The situation there will be reported next time, this time please enjoy the pictures around the office Port-au-Prince!

The entrance of the office Port-au-Prince

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Just like the image of the Caribbean, there are many kinds of trees.
“A Mango tree”
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I found Mango trees and palm trees on the premise of the office, no sooner I ate Mango and it was sweet and tasted good.

“Around the office”
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Various kinds of shops stand side by side such as a fruits store and a clothing store etc.

Overseas Projects Department/Jumpei Ushikubo

October 25, 2012 in Haiti |

10/18/2012

Creole, a pattern of Haitian identity

[JEN seems to be everywhere on Port au Prince’s walls …]
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Haiti has two official languages, French and Creole. Creole is actually the main language, spoken by the entire population, while French is mainly talked by educated people.
Originally Creole is a mix of Colons, natives and slaves’ mother languages, in order to understand each other’s. It then became the slaves’ language that evolved to do not be understood by the colons. Since the independence in 1804, the language continued to evolve and has been officially codified to be written. Writing codification is close to International Phonetic Alphabet. Indeed, while the pure creole is very precise, in reality one writes creole as one hears it.

To give an idea about Creole structure, let’s say that for a French speaker, most of creole is understandable. Nevertheless it’s more complicated to speak it, as the tendency would be to speak deconstructed French.
As any language in the world, it reflects a culture, and vice-versa. Therefore, understanding the language enable to better understand the country’s people and their interactions. Creole is a language that is deeply poetic, but also incredibly approximate on another hand.

Poetic definitively. Incredibly. Many expression in creole use images to say or describe something.
Not to illustrate an action or an idea. To express it.
For instance, do you know how a Haitian would ask to inflate a tire? He will say “mete van nan kawotchou a” [me-te][vɑ̃][nɑ̃][ka-wo-tʃu][a]. Which means, literally, “put wind into the rubber”. Poetic isn’t it?



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Inflate a tire is quite a prosaic and concrete action. Yet creole use as much images to express ideas.
The message in the picture above says “Viv Ayiti tèt kale” [viv][ɑjiti][tɛt][kɑle] and means literally “Go Haiti Shaved Head”. It has been used as a slogan during the last presidential election to promote a new start for Haiti. Indeed, “tèt kale” (shaved head, literally) means in fact “reboot” or “restart”. A new life for your hairs, somehow. And by extension for Haiti.

Unfortunately this poetic (and idealistic would say some) view of Haiti is rapidly undermined. Indeed, as much Haitians are present in the discussion, as much interpretations of the images could exist. Not only because of regional particularities, but also because everyone has his own understanding of the said image. Almost nobody tries to understand what the other means. What one has understood is definitively what the other meant. Empathy does not look to be the most important quality during discussions here.
This leads often to strong and deep misunderstandings. Of course the low level of education certainly reduces the number of words use by most. But you may also have words that have several meaning. And there is no way, as it could exist in some languages, to differentiate these meanings according to the tone or place in the phrase.

Let’s take the word Marengwen [ma-ʁœ̃-ɡwɛ̃] for instance. It means “mosquito”. It also means “swamp”. But also “skinny”.  Which one is the correct meaning if you say somebody that a Marengwen is dangerous?
Good luck.

To finish this note a quick word on the picture that introduces it. It would be quite surprising for you, if you would travel through Haiti, to see how much JEN is known after less than 3 years in the country. Everywhere on walls you can see inscriptions such as Jèn Kore Jèn [ʒɛn][ko-ʁe][ʒɛn] or Jèn an Aktyon [ʒɛn][ɑ̃][ak-sjɔ̃].
Nothing linked with us unfortunately: “Jèn” means only “young”. So the message above only means “Young support the Young”. The last year elected president, Michel Martelly (aka Sweet Micky in his professional life of singer) was the youngest in the election run, and this message supposed to support him.
Not too much disappointed?

October 18, 2012 in Haiti |

09/27/2012

One Team

On Monday, September 17th, 2012, for the first time in 2 years and half of project in Haiti, the 3 offices of JEN (Port-au-Prince, Leogane and Grand-Goave) gathered together. The meeting was held in Grand Goave compound. Not only because it is from far the nicer office we have in the country, but also because it is the place where works the bigger team.

[View from Grand Goave office]
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Only a common objective: to ensure everybody, from the guards to the masons, from the hygiene promoters to the drivers, from the administrative assistant to the management team, feels that JEN in Haiti is one team.
The first ones arrived around noon. According to their activities, everybody join the gathering at the time it suited them. One request only: everybody comes with something, either cooked, or to drink. The best being something cooked personally to share with others.

We did talk about the anniversary of the first JEN team’s arrival in the country: Cyril and Olivier arrived exactly 32 months ago on the island;
We did talk about the birthday of Berlande, the most senior Haitian staff in JEN Haiti who got 29 on the 18th;
We did talk about the preparation day in Leogane, where the team gathered on Sunday to cook a very special meal for the others;

[The Leogane team’s meal under preparation]
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We did hear many jokes and teasing all over the day, the funny team being led by the now famous “Ekip Kouyon”
We did thank the dedication of the staffs, from the oldest one Berlande, to the latest recruited Zephyr, to ensure the good work of JEN in Haiti for the support of the most affected Haitians;
We did laugh during the self-presentation of each member of the team to the others;
We did talk about the missing people: all international and national staff who left JEN for new challenges over these 2 years and half, or the guards of Port au Prince who had to stay there to keep the house safe;

[“Ekip Kouyon” without its leader]
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We did listen about the poetry that has been written and declaimed by Fifi, a program assistant working for JEN since April 2010;
We did observe Marie-Louise, the Grand Goave office assistant, taking the lead to move on everybody in the same direction during the preparation.

[Food preparation during D day]
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But if we have to remind only one thing from this special gathering it’s the work conducted altogether to ensure a full success of the day, the solidarity between all these people who did not knew each other so much the day before.

[JEN Haiti greeting JEN worldwide]
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Here was one single JEN team on Monday!

September 27, 2012 in Haiti |

09/13/2012

Keep speaking the truth.

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[An idea about the vision of some NGOs in Haiti]

Nowadays, both social media and advocacy organizations have changed a concept, transparency, into a norm. This evolution should positively affect the humanitarian world. Indeed, transparency is one of the humanitarian principles since ever. It avoids phantasmagorias. It protects us and is the best enemy of corruption. It allows better evaluation, monitoring and analysis, which are keys of success and improvements in our programs. It allows also better accountability towards beneficiaries, but also towards donors.

In one of the poorest country worldwide, Haiti, many people have access to mobile phones and to internet. Anyone can then spread easily bad information on organizations, on people, on projects. No matter if these information are true or not. Yet, the only efficient counter-measure that exists is transparency, especially for small organizations that does not have the weight to engage in counter-information. If an organization is truly transparent, anyone could easily cross-check information to see if it’s true or not.

The reality is that humanitarian program does not work perfectly as it has been forecast. Never. It has been written one day, sometimes only after a quick and basic evaluation of the problems and the possible solutions. It has been submitted days or weeks later, often approved after weeks or months of biding. Between the first idea and the start of a project it is not rare to have months, except hopefully during emergency phases. In any place, worldwide, during these months the context, the problems, the realities change. In addition, once the project started you have to face new problems, to correct mistakes (errare humanum est) and sometimes to overpass your own incompetency, or those of your staff, the authorities or some subcontractors. This is actually one of the things that is common to every genuine humanitarian worker: the capacity to find solutions to any kind of problem. Even to those that do not exist officially.

Actually a humanitarian program is similar to the life. The more you overpass mistakes and problems, the more you will grow up and become a respected, competent and strong person; the more you develop empathy, the more you will understand others and be able to live within a society.
In Haiti problems are legions. We would not be here if it would not be the case. JEN operations in Haiti are not perfect, while relatively coherent, and above all still useful for the population.

Our job is to understand these above-mentioned problems and to develop solutions.  Our job is also to live with Haitians, to have empathy with those we meet, to understand them, their education and their culture, which enables a better adaptation of our programs to their needs. Furthermore, our job is to confront our difficulties and our mistakes to overpass them to better support the country and its inhabitants.

All the competencies present in the team are tools for such a success. And transparency is our best ally.

(Haiti Head of office Cedlic Turlan)

September 13, 2012 in Haiti |

09/06/2012

Strengthening our acceptance strategy, a daily effort

Security management is first of all a lot of common sense. In addition, humanitarian security needs to be seen as a way to enable a better access to communities, as well as protection to these communities to access the aid system. Each JEN office must adapt a local security protocol which reflects JEN’s Organizational mission, its own specific country mission and includes each of the three elements of the security triangle: acceptance, protection, and deterrence.  An effective local security protocol must balance all three elements.

In a country like Haiti, where main security threats are to be at the wrong place at the wrong moment, or to become a target for criminals, a strong acceptance strategy with supportive protection and deterrence elements is ideal.  Acceptance is never granted and has to be built on daily basis, through the programmes of course, but also through all the networking and the links that are built with the communities where we work and whom we live amongst.

In Grand Goave we live in the countryside, in a nice house above the beach. It’s relatively easy to build strong relationships with the entire neighborhood. Especially that we have implemented projects there over the last 2.5 years and are supported by our guardians who are all from the close area. Acceptance is then the major part of our security there, under the condition to be strengthened every day.

In Leogane, a larger city, our past and current programmes help. Nevertheless new relations built with the neighborhood are strongly needed to ensure other residents consider us as part of them, and so offer the same protection than for all inhabitants. It had been quite well developed by the team, talking with residents, going to the front shop, walking the streets, sometimes sharing some songs of pleasure… This was fortunate: due to the work we are supporting in the streets of Leogane, the surrounding wall collapsed, as it happened for many residents. But this is not a real problem finally. On one hand it showed that we do not have a specific situation towards the construction work: we are like all residents. On the other hand, everybody knows the team; nobody would have the idea to come in without being invited. Of course our guards remain there, as protection and deterrence to support this acceptance strategy, but everything’s fine so far.


Leogane’s JEN Compound’s broken surrounding wall
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In Port au prince, where we just moved in a new area, the acceptance challenge is more important and needs to be tackled with energy: we cannot count on our programs, as we never developed any in the capital. That’s why efforts are done to meet neighbors, to be seen in the street, to be known.
Few hours after we arrived, most of the area already knew that foreigners now lived here, would have they seen us or not. Therefore it would have been a huge mistake, reinforcing eventual rumors or phantasmagorias, to live enclosed within our walls. That’s why, with the support of our guards, we have decided to open the doors during the day, and so to live in true relation with our neighborhood. This is like this Haitians live, so we. Till now it works, and it looks like people understands that, finally, we are not so different and without anything to hide.
The more they will know us, the more we’ll be protected.


Port au Prince’s JEN compound entrance
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September 6, 2012 in Haiti |

08/16/2012

Quick snapshot of a come back

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Only in Haiti, this board seen in Grand Goave says: “Cautious: we ask people to not “shit” aside the sea please”


I have crossed much tenser highway to hell than Haiti on earth. But this one remains peculiar and somehow quite stable… in its inimitableness.  Actually I do not know any other country where I could face, the same day, so many odd or funny stories to count. Perhaps is it one of the reasons I came back, while knowing that what is funny today will certainly become much more stressing in few months’ time, when I’ll be pessimistically desperate about any possibility of change in Haiti, as anybody does. Perhaps one of the chances of Haiti resides finally in its capacity of attraction of new people, over-motivated to help it, before they become cynical.

Nonetheless I could really not think about any other country in the world where, in less than 2 hours, I would have to manage our dog that caught a new house’s owner’s guinea fowl and the said owner whose the story makes laugh a lot fortunately; 2 slashes wheels on the same car at few minutes interval; a disappearing Internet to fix, the provider’s hot line being almost unable to propose another solution than plugging the modem ; the fridge being connected on a kitchen (that does not have water)’s plug  that does not work half of the day, when there is no city electricity, because “it’s not needed to have it working full day, it’s more important to have the TV”; and, finally, the safe’s key being handed-over by mistake to the former landlord instead of his house’s keys.

To conclude, another – already cynical - snapshot of what Haiti is, through the Olympic Games that are currently on-going while not really followed-up in here understandably: only 5 Haitian athletes participate to the Games. Four of them born, raised and still live and train in the USA.

August 16, 2012 in Haiti |

08/02/2012

Connection to Haitian electricity network②

Knowing all these things for a while I had to truly experience it while connecting JEN Leogane office to the network.

As feared it took more than a month to get a technician on site to evaluate the length of the cable needed. Still we can consider ourselves lucky as being located in the heart of Leogane centre, right next to existing network!

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EDH not having any cable in stock these days it is the owner of the house that had to buy the very expensive electric cable: 2.5USD/foot so 450USD in total for our office.

Added to the 250USD fee for subscription it is a total of 700USD to get connected to a network that provides electricity irregularly anyway…

Considering that this amount of money does represents up to 6 months of salaries for the rare lucky Haitians having a job it will for sure take a lot of time to change mentalities and make Haitians believe an understand that the best way to get a reliable network eventually is to start by stopping illegal connections.

Did I hear talking about vicious circle?

August 2, 2012 in Haiti |

07/19/2012

Connection to Haitian electricity network①

Before actually trying to connect a house to the Haitian public electricity network it is just impossible to understand how difficult, long and expensive it can be.

Like many other developing country Haiti suffers from a terrible lack of infrastructures. Since the fall of Dictator Jean Claude DUVALIER, alias BB Doc, in 1986 not less than 18 presidents have been in charge of the country in only 26 years!

Actually it is only 13 different presidents that swapped at the head of the government, sometimes for not longer than a week!

This extreme political instability and the country being extremely mountainous and exposed to frequent hurricanes, development of the different public network like electricity or water couldn’t really improve for a rather long time.

In the other hand need for electricity kept increasing the last 3 decades as Haitian population kept growing very fast (6.5 million of inhabitants in 1986, estimated around 10 today) and use of phone, TV, radio or fans for example became more and more generalized.

For all these reasons and probably others less obvious EDH (Electricity of Haiti) never really managed to follow the needs of electricity of the population.

The situation today is actually quite dramatic as people don’t trust the company to be able to provide a decent service and, tired of waiting for months for some technician; tend to connect directly and illegally on the poles!

With so much electricity “stolen”, EDH is for course not able to develop the network and can’t even provide electricity 24/7 in the area where the network is well functioning.

In addition EDH can’t really hire more employees, making maintenance and follow up of illegal connection impossible!

(To be continued)

July 19, 2012 in Haiti |

07/05/2012

Counting money in Haiti

It is unique how they count money in Haiti. The official currency is Haitian Gourde, however there is Haitian Dollar as the unofficial and imaginary currency.

Haitian Dollar is neither American Dollar nor bills and coins of Haitian dollar would exit.

1Haitian Dollar is worth 5 Haitian Gourdes. Usually the only currency on the market is Haitian Gourde though (photo), prices are often called in Haitian Dollar. For example, Coke costs 25 Gourdes then you hear "It's 5 Haitian Dollars".

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In the beginning, it is thought there was a trace of previous currency: Haitian Dollar because just as seen in other countries in the past, inflation have decreased the value of money sharply, then later new currency was introduced.
But Haitian Dollar has never existed. However it seems that fixed exchange rate in 1980's, 1 U.S. Dollar= 5 Haitian Gourdes, still remains today. Even though it still does, I wonder how it would be possible for people to use it over 20years.

When I brought this to Haitians, they said they don't have to use more zeroes with Haitian Dollar. 1000 Gourdes are big numbers, but when it comes to Haitian Dollar, it is easy to count because it can be done with 200.

Still they have to pay in Haitian Gourde so they need to do division or multiplication in the end which seems more complicated after all. Then their "Haitian" logic comes in, it is more complicated for them to count with big numbers.

July 5, 2012 in Haiti |

06/21/2012

Community General Assembly

JEN is now working on two issues in Leogane. One is water management committee who is in charge of operation and maintainance of water supply facilities, and other one is a charging system that keeps operation and maintenance by committee.

Water management committies had many trainings with JEN staff since February 2012. And from this June they are going to hold a community general assembly. In this assembly, members of water management committee have to present their water management structures, operations and role, in order to obtain consent from the community members.

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This is the program of the community general assembly.

  (1) Beginning prayer
  (2) Welcome from the committee members and introduction of the general assembly
  (3) Introduction of committee members and hygiene promotion volunteer members
  (4) History of water management committee
  (5) Rules and terms of water management committee
  (6) Budget of water management committee (and usage fee to be set up)
  (7) Explanation about the membership of water supply facility management system
  (8) Q & A
  (9) Appreciation from the committee
(10) Ending prayer

(0)Gathering People
In Haiti these community gathering always starts late over one hour. People late are apparently not hurrying or do not care about it at all and comes to the meeting place in easy mood (somehow dressed up pretty good). People who came on time also seems to be not irritated about delay instead chatting with other people while they were waiting in the middle of hot day.

(1)&(10)Beginning and Ending Players.
Many are combined with Voodoos, but 80 to 90 percent of people in Haiti are recognized as Christians. That is why we mostly have prayers on the beginning and end of the assembly. All people stand up and sing the player that they all know by heart.

(2) to (7) Explanation
Many people in Haiti are very good at speaking in front of people, or we can say they don't hesitate to speak, in comparison to the Japanese. They also likes to make people laugh with their talks and try to involve people during speaking.

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(8)Q & A
Haitian people relatively do not hesitate to ask question or express their opinion.
Because management structure is one of the main agenda in General Assembly, We always hear questions “What if the committee members cheated the usage fee”. We think this as a reasonable question because still many are acting for their own interest that even teachers take money from their pupils (still most cases only when it is necessary) in this society.

Nonetheless, we saw many people applying for the membership of water management system and paying usage fee to the committee. This fact tells us that the community has strong demand of water, the community begin to understand the importance and necessity of management system, and moreover the community is gradually growing the sence of trust to the water management committee.

June 21, 2012 in Haiti |

06/07/2012

Security training at 12 in the pink house!

Since March 2012, JEN has been working with Yachiyo Engineering/JICA in the implementation of “the Project for Rehabilitation of Urban Roads in Leogane- Labour Intensive Work”. This is the second project being implemented by JEN at the moment in Leogane. Since May 12th, all employees working on JICA’s project of road rehabilitation in Leogane centre heard their employers yell out, "Security training at 12 in the pink house!" multiple times. JEN has been organizing a security training every day around noon in its office, a pretty pink house easily located in the heart of the town and construction site.

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The Pink house

Currently, two local construction companies are working simultaneously on 13 different sites. Workers are dispatched to different specialized teams of masons, fitter and carpenters. Security trainings have been organized into small groups of 15 people, trying every day to collect people from different teams in order to not slow down any activity on site as much as possible.

The training itself is based on 10 short mute animated movies showing scenes of main security rules of the construction site which is then guessed by the viewers. Distributed by the Haitian ministry of construction and transport, the video material is ideal because participants have to discuss what they thought about the short animation and the message behind it.

In addition, pictures taken on site are shown after the educational, but still theoretical, videos. Seeing themselves enlarged on the wall of the office is always a funny experience for the participants as they can clearly see and/or discover if they are working in a dangerous environment or not. If the debates are quite loud during the projection of the movies it is even louder during the display of the pictures, making the training successful.

Workers from EATT and hard labour workers from Leogane attending security training at JEN office.
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Before leaving, each employee gets a sticker on his helmets proving he did follow the training. The employees also sign an attendance list on which it says he/she accepts not being allowed on site without any safety equipment. In case of noncompliance, the employee loses their salary for the day.

Sticker on the helmet proving the employee did follow security training.
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While the result of the training on site is visible and significant when it comes to wearing helmets and vests or securing the different excavation points, the working environment still remains extremely difficult. The shallow water in Leogane is extremely abundant and very close to ground level, therefore absolutely all excavation points end up becoming real swimming pools within hours, forcing the companies to pump all the water out before being able to continue. Once emptied, the huge holes have to be checked carefully because the risk of collapse is high in the wet environment. Some of the Haitian engineers are even calling it “liquid soil”!

Fortunately, most of the big underground sanitation canals would soon be finished and the next excavation points on small canals wouldn't present any risk of collapse next steps because the ground isn't too sensitive.

Nevertheless, risks of accident will never disappear on any construction site. JEN will keep organizing periodic security training in order to secure the protection of the workers and the residents of the area as much as possible.

June 7, 2012 in Haiti |

05/24/2012

Mango season, Rainy season and Cholera season

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Before the actual rainy season starts, it has started raining since the end of March in Haiti.

From time to time, the raining turned in to squall especially from evening to night.

The rain affects people's daily lives that roads would be blocked, bridges would fall down and also Cholera infection started increasing.

Once the season for Mangoes came, the local Haitian staffs started telling us: “When the mango season and the rainy season come, Cholera season will come along with them!"

When mangoes are in season, you can see them sold everywhere.

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According to the Haitian staffs, the more delicious mangoes appear on the market, the more people eat them without washing them.

It seems that could trigger infectious diseases including cholera.

*In Haiti, people just take a bite of mangoes with skin on them.

In the middle of April, Haiti government and the international organization launched anti-cholera vaccination campaign to avoid cholera epidemic.

Under the circumstances, JEN is currently conducting hygiene promotion training by the Haitian staffs in 7 communities.

May 24, 2012 in Haiti |

05/10/2012

Haiti! Thank you for the great two years!

It's been two years since I moved here at the end of April 2010. Here comes the time to say goodbye to Haitia country, I have become to love.

At the beginning of my assignment at Haiti,time just flew by,but now I am able to finish my assignment thanks to the people I met here.
Also I would like to thank everyone from many groups and organizations for their support.

I understand that it is said that the reconstruction isn't going as fast as expected. For now, I would like to share what I saw in this country in the past two years.

Executive Office of the President
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People might think that destroyed buildings are has left untouched, in fact the debris has been removed already! Not only this building but you can see clear changes in the town as well.

Flooding due to the heavy rain
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Flooding still occurs whenever it rains. However, in some areas, street gutters have been newly installed, the volume of garbage has been reduced which used to cause flooding.

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The water control committee in the community which manages the well charges residents about fifty yen for maintenance including the cost of chlorine. This lady is holding a stamp  to prove she has paid. 

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The stamps prove that she paid the water control committee her well charge.
The well can get broken and needs chlorine to make it potable in some areas.
Building a well is only a temporary solution. To make it work sustainably and also to support their self-reliance, it is important that the community manage and keep the system running by itself.
These stamps show you what they have accomplished.

Because the residents used to use the river water for free, initially it was difficult for them to pay the charge.  So this change shows you that they could eventually figure out why they need to pay for water and why need hygienic water is important.

The affected people of Haiti are far from living without any worry.But transformation is taking place gradually.
I am looking forward to seeing how this country transforms in a few years when I comes back Haiti!

Yuka Takao
Head of office for Haiti office

May 10, 2012 in Haiti |

04/19/2012

Jimmie Pierre, our new colleague in Haiti

I am Jimmie Pierre, a new general affairs & finance assistant.  I was born and grown up in Port-au-Prince, the capital city of Haiti. I am 39 years old and also a father of twin daughters.

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I am a member of organization named CUSOPHAJ which introduces and promotes Japanese culture to here in Haiti. In this organization I am learning things around Japan and teaching Japanese language as a volunteer teacher for beginner course as well.

I have worked 13 years as a teacher, but wanted to have experience in different field. That is why I started my new carrier in JEN two weeks ago. I have many good colleagues here and JEN is one of the NGO who carries out visible and definitive support in Haiti.

There are still aftermaths of the earthquake here.  But I believe that we Haitians could meet JEN in such circumstance will bring good result to our future.

April 19, 2012 in Haiti |

04/05/2012

Back in Haiti!

It has been 10 days since I came back into Haiti with JEN.

10 great days during which I saw so many improvement and changing in the streets of Port au Prince or on the road to our field office in Grand Goave, driving through Martissant, Carrefour, Mariani, Gressier or Leogane.

All these places where I drove through so many times from March 2010 and July 2011! Everywhere I see changing! Most of the debris has completely disappeared, making the road usable on its full width! And portions of the national road number 2 severely affected by the earthquake have been renovated, improving the traffic conditions impressively!

It didn’t fix fully the problem of traffic jams in Port au Prince though! Even though the capital did change for the better quite a lot in my eyes! With many more public lights installed, commuting overcrowded bus stop better located and organized and significant improvement of the garbage collection system the whole atmosphere of the city is changed! Seeing hundreds of children in their school uniform waiting on secure spaces for buses that are free has also been fantastic!

Discovering at once all this improvement made me thinking that had been out of the country 9 months! 9 months I spent in Europe where the media were only mentioning once in a while Haiti, always when hurricanes, political tensions or general instability… true enough but I have some memories going all the way back from March 2010 and things have definitely changed and are changing still!

If this visual very first contact back into Haiti was excellent, the better had to come with meeting again with former and new colleagues, speaking créole and meeting constantly with known and friendly faces, from the guard I hardly knew at Port au Prince Office to the local authorities in Leogane!

It was great to meet again with some colleagues that I did recruit 2 years ago when emergency time made us walk all day long in the mountain, assessing the damages of the earthquake house by house with terrified population living in spontaneous camps!

Remembering this challenging and physically exhausting period and comparing with today there is no comparison! As for the staff updating me on what happened during my absence there is no comparison either! Their self confidence and general overview of the situation have improved so much!

I’m definitely truly happy to be back in Haiti! After this long break of 9 months it is fully refreshed and inspired by my 16 previous months spent here that I start on a new project for JEN in Leogane.
This new project consider in supporting YEC in its renovation activities of the streets of Leogane centre, my task and responsibility is to ensure a good organization of the hard labor crew from Leogane employed by the specialized Haitians building companies operating under YEC authority.

More coordination and reporting than pure field activities like in the previous WASH program I was involved previously but for sure still a real challenge as it is a completely different part of “cultural differences” I do have to learn!

April 5, 2012 in Haiti |

03/22/2012

Election of the water control committee in Laberger

In early February, a new project called “Improvement project of water hygiene environment through the water control committee in Leogane district”has been kicked off. 

In this project, we will work on improving water and hygiene environment in seven communities across Leogane district located to the West of the capital Port-au-Prince.

In Haiti, we have seen many wells being left broken a few years after being dug due to lack of proper engineering or as a result of the long-term international support.

JEN will be responsible for establishing a system to maintain a well in each community.

At Laberger, which is one of the seven communities, they used to use water from the river as their drinking water. We will dig a well and establish a system which will be controlled and run by the local residents. That way, the hygiene environment can be maintained sustainably.

Here, we would like to introduce you a  "Haitian"style election for the water control committee which we just had the other day.

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First of all, according to the pre-meeting with JEN staff, this man who is the leader figure in the local community explained about JEN's project, the water control committee and each candidate running for the committee.


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As we listened to this piglet singing...


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The election for the water control committee was carried out with voting by show of hands.
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Mommy threw her vote as she fed her baby.
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However, it got difficult to count raised hands. So they moved on to the style of true or false game just like "If you vote for person A come this way and for person B go that way. " Then everybody followed the instruction.
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After a few rounds of moving around, members for the water control committee have been elected. We have to say it was a "Haitian"style election that everyone was laughing and having fun.

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(This project is supported by your generous support and Japan Platform. )

March 22, 2012 in Haiti |

03/08/2012

Introducing a new staff in Haiti

Hello everyone, I am Hashimoto. I have been transferred to the office in Haiti will be in charge of accounting and general affairs.

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I used to be in charge of projects in Sri Lanka and Iraq at the head office in Tokyo.
This is my first time to visit Haiti. My first impression of Haitian people is they are pure and  very warmhearted.

Although I have been battling against mosquitoes since the day one, it won't hold me back doing my best for this project.

I will be committed to reconstruction of this country that suffering from the  earthquake just like Japan.

March 8, 2012 in Haiti |

02/23/2012

BLOKIS!

"...Everybody knows how it is. Things are always like this. BLOKIS makes you miss an important appointment that you have to lie on the phone. "Tap Tap(public bus in Haiti)" is always packed that makes me feel irritated then I will be so close to explode.
On the phone, lying "I'm almost there". Sure you are not. Knowing it's faster if you get on foot but still you have a long way to go..."

This is some rilycs from the smash hit song in Haiti by this young pop singer called Wanito. "Blokis" means "Traffic Jam"

Traffic Jam in Haiti is horrible, especially in the Metropolitan area.
It often affects JEN's operation.

Speaking of the song, it's not simply about the cars being "stuck" in the traffic but tells you how peole being "stuck" and suffer in their everyday lives.

"...BLOKIS that's how it is always. Whole Haiti is in BLOKIS..."

February 23, 2012 in Haiti |

02/09/2012

About Labriette

In Labriette, many residents didn’t use a communal laundry place which Jen has built, but they used the river nearby for washing.  The reason is that, in order to use a lot of water for the washing, they needed to pump over and over again and it was very tough work for them.

So, I put a drum can to fill it with water.

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Then, the communal laundry place is fully packed with mothers although it was empty before.

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In addition, the mothers are crowded out of the place and said "make the place much wider ! "
A little idea to set up a drum can has led to the gathering place for the residents.

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The place is now a base to share information as well as to talk each other, such as an information session about the use of chlorine by a water management committee.

February 9, 2012 in Haiti |

01/26/2012

Days in Toutif

We would like to share the usage of water supply and washing facility which Jen has built in Toutif.

At 11 am. The sun is blazing on skin.
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At the washing facility, four or five women wash clothes of their families singing and chatting about for 2 hours.
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They used to do laundry under strong direct sunlight before, but the roof at the washing facility made it so much easier for them.
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A woman, wearing a yellow shirt and shining brightly under the blue sky, has to go to draw water with 15 minutes’ walk, at least three times every day.
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It takes about three minutes to fill a bucket, and one bucket is about 20 kilograms approximately.
She handles it very well as if it were common sense; however, the work is very tough.

Before the water supply facility was built by JEN, the nearest water source was a river which 700 meters away, and it took more than 30 minutes by walk.

An accumulation of small improvements is gradually changing people's lifestyle.

January 26, 2012 in Haiti |

01/12/2012

Safe water - Power of knowledge

In Haiti, epidemic disease like cholera has spread due to lack of proper knowledge and habit of water sanitation.
Staffs from JEN who have been trained to chlorinate water properly held workshop for the residents. They can learn the proper knowlege of hygiene and how chroline plays its role in water sanitation.

Each community that JEN has been working with selected 3 people to get training to make liquid chroline.(2people from Water Control Comittee which controls the water-supplying facilities and 1 person from JEN's hygiene promotion project which promotes knowledge of hygiene.)

Here are the contents of the training;

1. The team leader from JEN explained why they need chroline for water sanitation.
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2. Staffs from JEN enthusiastically explained how to make liquid chroline followed by Q&A with the class.
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At the end of the workshop, each one of them tried to make the water chroline by themselves with masks and goggles which provided by JEN.
The staff from JEN supported them during the procedure.
Guess she was feeling like she was their mom.
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After the workshop, staffs from JEN made sure, over and over, that people from Water Control Comittee and the hygiene promotion project understood enough to educate their communities.
We expect this process will encourage them to transform their action as well as hygiene education in their communities.

January 12, 2012 in Haiti |

12/22/2011

Safe water for everyone

JEN has been installing Chroline dispensers supportted from your generous donations and Japan Platform.

Installing the dispenser right by the well makes it possible to chlorinate the water at the source. Also it explains its importance of the chlorinating the water then encourage the procedure.

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In the early December, staffs from JEN took training to make liquid chroline with HTH powder.

Calcurate the quantity of the powder to the certain quantity of water. You have to be careful with the density of the chroline liquid. If it doesn't contain enough density of chroline, the water can't be disinfected while it can affect the taste of water and health if too much density.

Ms. Elise from IPA ( Innovations for Poverty Action) does wear the same cloth everytime she gives training. Because the chroline liquid would splash over her cloth then it gets breached.

In Haiti, 5 gallon (about 19liters) buckets are usually used. You can get enough amount of the chroline liquid for the water in the bucket by turning the dispencer lever for once.

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"Then what are we gonna do if we have 1 gallon bucket?"

"How long will the disinfected water last for drinking?"

They assume problems which could happen after installing the dispensers as many as possible. So that they can make sure that the project works in any circumstances.

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From now on, staffs of JEN will give training to Water Control comittee, well administrator and volunteers on the safe water supply. At the same time, JEN will start the education project to help the community understand the health benefits of disinfecting water.

JEN aims to improve the healthy lives by learning about the safe water project.

December 22, 2011 in Haiti |

12/08/2011

Figuring out what "self-reliance" is

I have been assigned to this project in Haiti as a program officer. Before I came here, I comitted myself to the disaster relief effort and the reconstruction project in Ishinomaki, Miyagi pref after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

In Tohoku(Northeastern Japan), the massive earthquake and tsunami devastated the region on March 11th in 2011. A year before, the natural disaster had also struck here in Haiti.
Haiti is known for the honarable history of the first black-led republic in the world. However, they have been struggling with poverty and civil wars even before the disaster hit the nation.
Right after I got here, I had to face the fact that Haiti heavily depends on the international aid. That made me try to figure out what "self-reliance" means. 

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We, JEN have been supporting them to found Water Control Committee by the residents as well as costructing the water supply facility and hygiene education.
The Water Control Committee should be run by the residents for the their own residents. The committee is to maintain the well to make sure it works properly everyday.
Also they collect maintenance fund from the residents monthly in case of a breakdown of the well.
What they are going to do with the committee might sound easy, but it is difficult for them. The reason is they are used to be supported by others that they need to learn how to work on their own, one by one from the scratch.

December 8, 2011 in Haiti |

11/24/2011

Persistence pays of, and vice versaq

By the end of last October, one project has been completed.
We would like to thank Japan Platform and all supporters.

This project required great effort with establishing well control committee and training for the communities.

They will start charging for using well to operate the committee.

The administrator will get paid while other members of the committee won't.
Even though it is called salary, it's about 250gould(6.25dollars).
In Haiti, unemployment rate is about 70%. But still finding a candidate for the administrator job was quite difficult.
However, finally the water committee has been established.

The new project which has been started since November, monitoring and supporting the activities of the well control committee is one of the most important activities.
Because even though we know the meaning of " Persistence pays off", we also know how difficult it is to keep it working.

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A week or two weeks later since the delivery ceremony with music and dance, local staffs from JEN visited the wells without notifying them in advance.
What they found was that 7 out of 10 project location didn't have those administrators hired earlier. They were gone!
We were disappointed with it but we could see it happen somehow.
Probably everybody might have been through stuff like this. Ending up being "Mikkabozu" a Japanese word to describe someone who can stick to nothing.

The committee said they couldn't keep themselves motivated due to huge workloads which they found out after they were assigned to the jobs.

For now, they are trying to solve the issues by suggesting ideas like limiting open hours of wells or share the workloads with members from the committee.

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JEN will support them until they can stand on their feet.The well control committee has just been born!

November 24, 2011 in Haiti |

11/10/2011

To create a more peaceful world

It's been a month since I was assigned to the project in Haiti.

A while ago, a monitoring team from Japan PlatForm(JPF) visited us.

Our projects has been supported through subsidies from JPF.
Here in Haiti, the current project which we dig wells, establish a well control committee and rebuild communities is one of them.

We, JEN as an organization that aim to create a more peaceful world, work together with JPF and contributing experts.

Photo:The current project in Haiti. Well digging and Establishing a well control committee.

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(General Affairs&Account, Haiti office Taeko Kosaka)

November 10, 2011 in Haiti |

10/27/2011

A ceremony to celebrate the completion of a well.

The last Sunday became an important day for Pierre Lewis.

It's all because the members of the well administration and management committee and JEN's staffs have worked hard for over six months that digging a new well completed and its ceremony was held. Those members who learned how to administrate the well now try to start a new and ever unattempted mechanism that collects money as dues so that people in village can use water for the period ahead.

As people have been using water from a river so far, they didn't have a custom to pay for water. That's why the mechanism is new to them. Collected dues are deposited in a local bank and used for administrating and maintaining the well. This allows the people in the village unable to continue to access safe water by themselves without depending on any support from outside.

The local people prepared the ceremony: their traditional music was played and children's dance was also exhibited on stage. As the entire village was looking forward to this ceremony, many people participated in it. The dance continued before sunset and the ceremony was brimming with smile.

October 27, 2011 in Haiti |