First, we would like to introduce you to one of our partner-communities where we currently work. Indeed, our partners substantially determine what we do, the approach we take, and what are the goals toward which we diligently work together. Although each community is distinct, the overall conditions are similar.
Our current partner-community is the isolated administrative section of Marre-Roseau, located at about 6,000 feet in the mountain range of La Selle, Commune of Ganthier, West Department. The population of 12,000, resides in more than thirty villages and localities, dispersed over a broad swath of land, up and down the mountain.
Getting there is not for the faint of heart. The only way is to take the winding dirt road, full of potholes and stones, and accessible only by small motorcycle-taxis, or 4X4 large vehicles. While trying to find the best path, the young, adroit motorcycle drivers swirl from side to side of the narrow road to avoid the hurdles. And, If you happen to look at your foot rest, you will also see right there the sharp drop of the mountain. Once in Marre-Roseau, the breathtaking view of the Cul-de-Sac plane, the Lake Azueï, and the villages flanking the mountain slopes, make you revel in the cooler air and surrounding beauty.
Soon, however, you also notice the dry riverbed at the foot of the mountain, the all-around deforestation, and the houses that reflect the pervasive harsh poverty.
What we take for granted in the US: running water, electricity and toilets, they don’t have. Varied and nutritious food, they can’t afford. Access to good medical care, and a safe, professional place where to give birth, they lack.
The deeply entrenched poverty, no access to water, and treacherous road negatively impact the local economy. For example, they force families to use children as young as five years old to bring water from a distant ravine, a trip that takes two-to three hours one way. That job prevents these children from attending school, imprisoning the family in the repetitive poverty cycle. These conditions also prevent the small-scale farmers from increasing their production and, thereby, their revenues; impede crop deliveries without tremendous loss due to bruising of the fresh vegetables, and so on.
How one survives in these conditions is almost unimaginable. And yet, our local partners work hard, are resilient, and think ‘smart’ to survive – albeit barely. Somehow, they grow vegetables and herbs, raise their families, and, miraculously, make something out of the small parcel of land they possess.
They are people we admire, respect and trust. They are our teachers and worthy partners who have the will and ability to grow and prosper when supported in their quest to change their lives for the better.
About EcoWorks International
EcoWorks International (EWI), is a nonprofit, social-change organization that works alongside communities determined to overcome their deeply entrenched poverty through collaboration, capacity building, and the pursuit of autonomy and self-sufficiency.
Our Mission: Bring knowledge, know-how and resources Haiti’s most promising communities need to emerge from poverty, achieve autonomy, and protect Nature.
Our Values: We believe in the power of cooperation, and in the limitless human potential to undo manmade poverty. We are committed to building ecosystems in nature and in communities to drive positive change, and to fulfill our obligation to be responsible for one another and for our planet’s survival.
Our Approach: We help our partners identify their talents, skills, and achievements then,
together, build upon these assets to develop a program based on self-sustainability. Through this process, we establish stronger, more inclusive organizational structures that are owned and controlled by the partner-communities. The program responds to their needs and aspiration, and offers new opportunities they may not have been exposed to before. Our common goal is to raise capacity, income, and the standard of living.
What We Do: Based on this approach, our partners and EWI created the regional Talia Farms development program, comprising several initiatives, the most important is being the Talia Farms Cooperatives (TFC). TFC calls for the establishment of five agricultural cooperatives in the Lake Azueï region. The first will open in Marre-Roseau, in the first quarter of 2020 . In the meantime, we are training our partners, share know-how, resources, technology and anything else they may need to become the creators, owners and leaders of their cooperatives.
Like the road to Marre-Roseau, life in rural Haiti is tough: dire poverty, dysfunctional administrative structures, misguided economic and social policies and priorities made by national governments and foreign entities, lack of security, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and intermittent violent riots, all contribute to the destruction of lives, homes, businesses and crops. They also cause social and psychological traumas.
In the past ten years, we have lived through all this alongside our communities. It has impacted us as well, yet, more than ever, we remain steadfast in our commitment to Haiti, to our partner-communities, and to our mission.
The reason for our commitment and positive outlook is that in spite of the tremendous challenges, and taking into consideration a more comprehensive view of the country, we also recognize the many positive aspects of life in Haiti. First, is the Haitians’ indomitable spirit, immense resourcefulness, entrepreneurial appetite, and great pride in their identity. They created an incredibly rich culture, numerous successful large companies; some excellent schools, hospitals and clinics. And, there is a vibrant emerging technology sector. They have proven time and again that they can succeed despite past tragedies and present challenges. (Read our section “About Haiti.”) In short, given the right opportunities and support, they succeed.
In the US, EWI benefits from our donors’ most generous support which makes our work possible, from the dedication of our Board of Directors, and from our highly experienced professional teams. Our Haiti Team , is entirely composed of local members of the partner-community. This grassroots background has the great advantage of an intimate familiarity with the local culture, a strong bond with the farming families , and respect from their peers. It greatly facilitates our partnering work.
The five cooperatives will create employment and a better quality of life for thousands in the Lake Azueï region. Through their efforts and our support they will build an economic engine for local development.
Our Board of Directors, Haiti
Anthony Aruffo, Business Consultant, BTS Group, NY / Stockholm;
Mr. Aruffo recently joined the BTS Group’s US Headquarters of the Swedish global business consulting firm, where he is responsible for working with rising CEO’s of major corporations to further hone their strategic thinking and decision-making skills. Previously, he was the CFO at Oceangrown, an ocean-mineral fertilizer manufacture company. His pro-bono work includes working with EcoWorks International on delivering a full financial model, proforma financial statements, and co-authoring the business plan for EWI’s Talia Farms program.
Mr. Aruffo holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Texas at Austin. He chairs the Board of Directors of the Vero Beach Wine & Film Festival; and, as an actor, he received the Theatre Guild 2014 Genie Award – Best Male Lead in a Musical.
Deanne Butchey, Professor at Florida International University (FIU);
Professor Butchey holds a PhD in Business Administration and has been teaching at Florida International University (FIU) for more than ten years. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in areas of financial markets, financial management and corporate finance.
She authored and co-authored more than thirty publications covering Stock market and Trader Behavior, Contagion (International Finance), Insurance and Risk Mitigation Issues, Pedagogical Research in Corporate Finance, International Finance, and Commercial Banking, and Corporate Social Responsibility. Dr. Butchey is the recipient of numerous awards recognizing her leadership and academic excellence.
Marie- Florence Estimé, Economist, Paris, France
Former Deputy Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and Local Development at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Paris, France. She was a member of OECD’s executive staff for thirty seven years, and continues to be active in global SME and international development.
Ms. Leclercq is an entrepreneur and experienced business, product and brand manager in various industries. She has managed real estate development and asset acquisition, and led licensing and purchase agreements with technology companies in the payment industry. She has worked at Visa International, London and Miami; Master Card, London; The Financial Times, London as well as private clients and family offices in Monaco. She resides in Monaco.
Ms. Leclercq has volunteered at EWI since 2010 and has been a staunch supporter of our work. She joined EWI’s Board of Directors in December 2016.
Henryka Manès, Founder and Executive Director, EcoWorks International
For the past thirty years, Ms. Manès has been working with developing and emerging economy countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern and Central Europe, the Middle East and South America. Haiti is her 25th country. Her expertise spans from designing and directing long-term, socio-economic programs to disaster responses following natural catastrophes and armed conflicts.
Prior to EWI, Ms. Manès worked at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) where she progressively reached the position of Director of global non-sectarian programs. She began her career as an art historian and worked as Junior Curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. She then joined the seminal Light Gallery, New York City, and founded and directed the HF Manes Art Gallery in New York City.
Our US Team
Our Haitian Team
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Legal: Maggie Block, Esq.
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