Meeting With Our Partner in Haiti
Posted on: Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Lisa Davis, an attorney working with MADRE, traveled to Haiti last week as part of a delegation of human rights attorneys with the Lawyers' Earthquake Response Network (LERN), a project of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), and met with MADRE's local partner KOFAVIV. Lisa had the opportunity to speak with the organization’s members and to see the organization in action when she visited one of the camps in Port-au-Prince where KOFAVIV is working. She shared this update below.
KOFAVIV is one of the more critical on-the-ground organizations having a real impact in Haiti. The organization is comprised of and led by women who are themselves living in the camps for people displaced by the earthquake. They are reaching out to other women every day to provide them with the resources they need to survive and crucial social and psychological support to make it through this terrible time. In particular, KOFAVIV provides support to women who have been raped.
Meeting Immediate NeedsWhen I was in Haiti, I was able to pass along contributions from MADRE members to our partner organization, KOFAVIV. The women from KOFAVIV worked quickly to distribute this support to women in the camps in the form of much-needed supplies, buying directly from local vendors (many of them also earthquake survivors who are just getting back on their feet with very small businesses). KOFAVIV gave 1,100 women clean water, pots and pans for cooking, buckets for washing clothes, soap and tampons.
You can’t overestimate the importance of these day-to-day items: How do you feed your children without a pot to cook in? How do you maintain your dignity without soap? There is a need for systemic change for us to address broader human rights issues in Haiti with our partners, and this long-term work is strengthened when we can help meet people’s pressing immediate needs.
Creating Community SpaceThe camps are so crowded that there's barely room to walk between the tents. There's no space for people to gather or meet, which breeds a feeling of isolation and despair and prevents people from organizing. KOFAVIV recognized this problem and set up an open-air tent where women can come together: to talk, to support each other and to begin to rebuild the social networks that are so crucial to recovering from the earthquake.
Providing SecurityThe camps are dangerous places for women and girls: they are terribly overcrowded, without safe housing, lighting or police. Worse, the social networks that normally provide protection have been destroyed. Women are raped in their tents, on the way to the bathroom and even in the bathroom because there's no way to lock a door.
In response, KOFAVIV organized a community watch system and trained a group of men to escort women in the camps at night. They distributed whistles, flashlights and cell phones to women and are teaching some basic techniques to help prevent rape.
KOFAVIV has a long history of providing rape survivors with direct support and services, and they are continuing this work in the camps. They have over 1,000 members in the camps, and women know that they can turn to KOFAVIV if they've been raped. The women of KOFAVIV will bring them to the hospital and the police station, they provide psychological and social support through a powerful model of peer support groups and they are now working with MADRE and LERN to seek justice for rape survivors. Women and girls with KOFAVIV provided testimony that local and international human rights attorneys will be able to use to address this ongoing abuse and impunity.
See photos Lisa took while in Haiti »
Archives"Press Releases" Home November 2014 October 2014 September 2014 June 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 September 2013 August 2013 June 2013 March 2013 February 2013 September 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 November 2010 October 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 September 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 January 2009 October 2008 September 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 February 2008 January 2008 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 March 2007 February 2007 December 2006 October 2006 July 2006 June 2006 September 2005 January 2004 August 2001
MADRE & Our Partners Make News
Iraqi government 'likely complicit' in persecution of LGBT community (The Guardian, November 19, 2014)
LGBT Iraqis face 'imminent risk of death' under Islamic State (Washington Blade, November 19, 2014)
Iraq: "When Coming Out is a Death Sentence" (San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, November 19, 2014)
The World's Obsession With Schoolgirls As Victims, And Why It's Putting Them In Danger (Think Progress, November 9, 2014)
Forbidden Talk - Prostitution in the Middle East (Levant TV, October 7, 2014)