Consulting grassroots and Diaspora groups importantPosted: April 1, 2011
Our Haiti delegation finished up their DC Advocacy week with a tour de force. The second half of Wednesday’s Advocacy Day brought them face to face with strong allies like Rep. Eliot Engel, Chair of the Western Hemisphere subcommittee in the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The Congressman serves in a NY district that includes the Bronx, with a strong Haitian and Haitian-American population. As a result, he was very receptive to our own Marie Charles Juste-Luce’s recommendations, when she explained the need to improve the consultation process with both grassroots and Diaspora groups and the need to increase US commitment to the protection of women in IDP camps.
In the Congressman’s own words, “It is good to work closely with the Haitian community and groups helping Haiti,” says Congressman Eliot Engel, Chair of the Western Hemisphere subcommittee in the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “The bottom line is that we are dealing with human beings here, living in these conditions. We cannot forget this.”
Also during the second half of Advocacy Day, members of our team and multiple other Haiti grassroots and Diaspora groups had a chance to meet for over 90 minutes with the top staffers for Senators Cardin, Corker, Boxer and Gillibrand, each one having a good track record in speaking up for Haiti. All of these Senators serve on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Staffers explained a common theme of the day: that the US Congress has been waiting for the Haiti election results before they move forward with the next steps of aid disbursement. Louisiane Nazaire responded by encouraging the Senators to not wait to act in solidarity with Haiti people at the grassroots. “We did not just come here to only ask for money. We came here to ask for a change of mindset, a change of process. Haitian peasant movements and women’s movements need to be included in both US and Haiti planning…especially in the National Agriculture Plan…whether more money is released right away or not.”
At the same moment, in another part of the city, Sonia Pierre, Jean Robert Pierre, Marie Andree St. Aubin and ActionAid USA’s Executive Director, Peter O’Driscoll, were speaking up for Haitian grassroots voices while meeting with Russell Porter at USAID. A challenging meeting with sometimes very different viewpoints, the group realized the extreme need to keep pushing USAID to reform not only their contract procurement process, but their entire system of Haitian grassroots and community consultation. Sonia Pierre explained, “Yes, it was a difficult meeting at times, but it was very important that we went. I’m glad that I’m here and could be a part of this.”