Amurtel Project coordinator Kate Bass just sent this report on current Amurtel Programs in Haiti.
Port au Prince Projects
Microcredit and Ekonomi Solide:
The Microcredit program in Port au Prince is going very well—the Animators (community organizers) are very pleased with all of the participating groups, citing a special five as doing extremely well. Last month, several groups paid the first installment on their 2014 loans. No group is behind payments or struggling. The Animators cite good facilitators and motivation as the reason for this success. Getting Ekonomi Solide going for the two existing groups is proving more difficult. One of the groups doesn’t have enough training and the other doesn’t have the materials we need. In general, both of these groups deserve more time and attention than they’ve been getting. The idea is to try to combine Ekonomi Solide with the Microcredit groups, so that each Microcredit group also participates in Ekonomi Solide. That way the women have a few extra resources if they aren’t able to pay back their loan on time. They’ll also get extra financial instruction, and finally, the Microcredit groups can share successes and brainstorm together. This will require time, planning and training. We hope to focus on this throughout the fall. However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the programs need a small amount of funding.
Espas Pa Mwen (adolescent girls program) :
We have around 60 girls in our current two groups. There are already 100 in other camps, however, that have signed up for the next session. We have also begun training four new ‘Mentors’ who can facilitate the courses, with close guidance from the Animators. The program has been difficult to coordinate in the last month because of rain, the timing of the classes, and school tests. We’re planning to change the time of the groups to the morning to avoid some of these issues this coming week. The funding for the project ends at the end of September, and unfortunately the Haiti Adolescent Girls Network is not going to be able to renew the grant as indicated. While they are applying for grants themselves, they haven’t yet been able to secure funding for the rest of the year. However, there is a possibility that AMURTEL can partner with a local yoga studio to help expand the program to Jalousie in Petyonvil, as well as Bourdon—folding new ‘Mentors’ for their program into our Mentor trainings. That group has a network of donors, and a joint fundraising campaign might be enough to raise the money for a second year of Espas Pa Mwen with new mentors and more participants. For Espas Pa Mwen, as the program is so demanding—of facilitators and participants alike—the Animators and I believe it would be useful to finish these groups in September as planned and start up the next group in January. This would give us a few months to raise money, evaluate the program, draft a more concrete curriculum, and train the new Mentors.
Self Help Groups
Overall the project is extremely successful, benefiting close to 1000 women and helping them establish a secure financial base. Nancy is growing in her role as Project Official and Natasha, the AMURTEL mobile nurse, offers invaluable support by visiting the groups and supporting the project staff. I plan to spend several days in Banan this week, talking with the facilitators, visiting groups, helping set up a better structure for planning for the projects, supporting Nancy in writing the trimester report, and shooting video for fundraising. We will also be meeting to find a way to adjust the budget of the project with the 25% reduction from our donors going into effect this month.
We have 20 new journalists-in-training in Ansapit! The program is going fantastically. George is an excellent teacher and the students are not only engaged while in the course, but are actually writing and reporting outside of the class as well. George had originally estimated being able to produce one final project, or newspaper. Now he thinks the group might be able to produce two newspapers and/or a radio show. We’re talking more about how to make the program as sustainable as possible, and maybe taking a trip to Port au Prince with the students.
During this trip to Ansapit, there have been several meetings about how to better manage and take advantage of our land and garden. A father at the school has extensive experience in sustainable and organic agriculture and is giving us ideas. The first step has been to survey the land and take measure of what we have and need. Next, we’ll need to designate someone in charge—likely Vikram, our logistician in Ansapit—to manage the garden and plans. Another aspect of the garden is to re-open education programs for the kids in the school in the garden, which will take extra work and supervision. The other goal of improving the garden would be to give food to the parents of the kids. So the goals are: 1. Education 2. Food sharing and production. Our partner AMURT in Port au Prince has extensive vegetable gardens at their school and teacher training center and I will plan to visit there later in the month to get their advice. Overall I believe this will be a good project for Liz Scarinci, our new project coordinator for Ansapit.
The summer camp in Ansapit has about 80 students participating. It is our only summer camp, as we do not have the funds (3-4k) to do camps in Banan and Port au Prince as well. I have been having conversations with Didi, the Animators, some teachers, and a new volunteer from Wesleyan about how we can plan the summer camps and lower the budget for next summer. I think if we plan adequately, this is an ideal time to solicit qualified volunteers from the United States to help us by teaching specific skills like music and art for 2-6 weeks. I’ll be looking into developing an internship program that we can maybe put on the website as well.