Beyond aid, MCC Haiti an advocate for people
MCC’s $16 million, five-year effort shifts from emergency aid to sustainable projectsBy Sheldon C. Good Mennonite Weekly Review
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Nearly two years after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, about $9 million of Mennonite Central Committee’s $16 million disaster response funds have been spent on projects to revitalize Haitians’ lives.
The remaining $8 million, which includes two matching grants from the Canadian government, will be dispersed over the next three years.
Susanne Brown, MCC Haiti disaster response team coordinator, said the initial country-wide response focused on material relief and stimulating the economy through cash transfers, cash-for-work programs and recapitalization of small businesses.
“In the very beginning, we spent about $1.6 million on food, water and material aid, more than almost anything else, but now have shifted to projects that are more sustainable,” she said. “Underlying our entire response, though, has been advocacy for the Haitian people.”
About half of MCC’s 50 initial disaster response projects are completed. Only 8 percent of total expenses have been for local operations.
“We’re always trying to think about how we can serve as many people as possible,” Brown said.
MCC’s long-term response includes business training, housing repairs and education.
MCC, along with a Haitian partner and with encouragement from Ten Thousand Villages, helped develop marketing materials for artisans.
“These are businesses that people already have, and we were helping them to employ more people,” Brown said. “We worked with small-business models.”
Better living conditions
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