What We Did This Summer – September 2023

September 8, 2023

What We Did This Summer

Dear Friend,

I can’t believe it’s already September! As kids get settled into the new school year, I thought I’d give you Roots’ own What I Did This Summer essay. Between the accomplishments on La Gonave and the work done here in the US, it was anything but a lazy summer!

Here’s five things we did:

1 – Shaping La Gonave’s Future Leaders

This summer, our partner in Haiti, Rasin Devlopman, held its second annual Ankadre project. Ankadre is like a summer camp for teenagers on the island intended for youth from neighborhoods at high risk of gang membership. While school is out for the summer, Ankadre participants receive training in vocational skills and civic engagement. This year, they also participated in cooking lessons and swim classes!

Ankadre participants learn how to develop their creativity, discover their talents, and become responsible citizens in their communities. Ankadre gives young people a safe place to express themselves, acquire skills, and connect more deeply with their community—all of which are even more essential during the current turmoil in Haiti.

2 – Supporting Mutual Solidarity Networks

This year, Rasin is supporting women leaders by reinforcing one of the most important structures that women have on the island: the mutuelle de solidarite, women-led mutual solidarity collaborative and savings groups, which already exist in every area of the island. These groups help women safely save and collectively invest their money in local, women-led small businesses.

After an extensive mapping process that identified more than 100 groups with almost 6,000 members, Rasin is partnering with 17 mutuelles to provide additional training and small grants. Already, several mutuelles have participated in trainings and begun issuing loans to women-owned small businesses using Rasin’s grant funding.

3 – Fighting Disinformation

Rasin Devlopman has developed a partnership with Internews’s Rooted in Trust to facilitate their work on the island of La Gonave. Rooted in Trust aims to build stronger information ecosystems in the countries where they work by meeting harmful health-related misinformation with locally informed and led analysis to understand the cultural and behavioral drivers that influence the scale and spread of rumors.

Together, Rasin Devlopman and Rooted in Trust are beginning to explore the topic of rumors and misinformation with the population of La Gonave. On May 17th, in honor of International Telecommunication Day, Rasin held a training on “How Disinformation Sparks Violence in Communities.”

4 – Strengthening Networks of Konbit

“Konbit” is a historically Haitian term, referring to the practice of supporting your fellow community members through collective action, especially during tough times. It serves as the foundation of community-led development and our work in Haiti. As such, Roots and Rasin are supporting the work of Gwoup Konbit, a Haiti-wide association of organizations and community leaders that is researching and sharing resources around practicing Konbit across the country.

On June 25th, Gwoup Konbit gathered more than 120 leaders from around the country for its 3rd ‘An n Devlope Konbit’ (Let’s develop Konbit) Workshop. Topics covered included education, environment and sustainability, governance, and community-led development, drawing from the lessons learned by Roots of Development, Rasin Devlopman, and others. Together, these leaders are working to create a guide to community-led development to help people across the country utilize konbit in their work. Click here to learn more about Gwoup Konbit.

5 – Gathering In Support of Haiti

In June, we held a Celebration of Haitian Heritage & Culture at Dacha Beer Garden in Washington, DC. The event was an incredible success, bringing together more than 400 people from around the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area in support of Haiti.

The event featured Haitian food and drink; live konpa music and dancing; trivia based on How Haitian Are You?; kids coloring pages of Haitian historical heroes; popcorn and cotton candy; books and talks from Franz Derenoncourt and Joseph Vivens; and more! Sad you missed it? Stay tuned—we’ll be announcing our Annual DC Event very soon!

I hope you’re as inspired and excited by the work in Haiti as I am. If you’d like to donate to support these projects and more, you can do so at rootsofdevelopment.org/donate.

Thank you for your continued support,

Chad Bissonnette
President & Co-Founder

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