December Newsletter + Interview with OITNB’s Vicky Jeudy
This month we are excited to update you on a number of developments that happened during November. But first, ‘Orange is the New Black’ actress and J/P HRO Ambassador, Vicky Jeudy, shares her experience as a Haitian American. Vicky visited Haiti with our team this past Spring to see the work we have done in Delmas 32. Visiting the country was a powerful experience for Vicky and we are so grateful to have her support.
My name is Vicky Jeudy and I was born in Jamaica, Queens, New York. My parents are from Port-au-Prince, Haiti and immigrated to America in 1970. I can remember first visiting the country when I was 2 years old. My parents felt it was important for me to maintain a connection to the country and Haiti continues to hold a special place in my heart.
The next time I visited Haiti was 6 months after the 2010 Earthquake. I wanted to find out more about my family, who they were and where they were from. During this visit I heard stories about my grandmother. She was 5’11" with super long hair. Every day she wore her hair in one long braid that she put into a bun. At night she would take it out and, with assistance, brush her hair. Then, before bed my grandmother would put her hair into two braids and repeat this process the next day. It is from her that I can see the importance of personal dignity and appearance that my parents instilled in me.
I remember hearing about how cleanliness was important to my grandmother. She would slide her finger along a bookcase to check for dirt, and examine newly washed sheets while they hung on the drying line. If there was even a speck of dirt, she would want the job redone until it met her standards. The women of Haiti continue to inspire me to this day.
There are two issues that I care deeply about and I have seen J/P HRO work on across Haiti: women’s empowerment and reforestation. When I visited Haiti with J/P HRO in 2016, I had a chance to visit the hospital and speak with the staff. It was wonderful to see the Haitian women in leadership positions. Their poise and attention to detail in both their work and appearance reminded me of my grandmother.
Imagine how much good we could do for the country to continue empowering women. Even in the fashion industry, there are amazing seamstresses and Haitian designers that are making some of the most beautiful pieces.
J/P is also very involved in reforestation across Haiti. If there had been more trees when Hurricane Matthew hit, some of the wind and rain damage could have been mitigated. Losing trees during Hurricane Matthew was a tragedy that compounded the effects of the storm. Deforestation has reduced tree cover to ~30% of the country.
It is important, now more than ever, to send our love and light to Haiti. Consider recording a video message of uplifting words for us to share with the Haitian people, or make a small dollar donation through J/P to continue our humanitarian response efforts in affected communities. Join me in helping Haiti rise!
Here’s how we are helping
J/P HRO has been on the ground in Jeremie since October 8th conducting an initial rapid assessment, which confirmed that Grand’Anse suffered the worst of the storm with 90% of the housing and agriculture sectors damaged. We have been instrumental in providing needed services across the Sud and Grand’Anse regions of Haiti that have continued through the month of November. We are working to provide sustainable solutions to the systemic problems affecting Haiti.
We began providing access to food and distributing water in the short-term, while we work to bolster local agriculture long-term. Access to safe and nutritious food for all people, including the extremely poor and the most vulnerable, is a human right. Food insecurity is a health crisis and it impedes the mental and physical development of girls and boys.
We started a housing repair program in Sainte-Helene this November by assessing damage to hundreds of homes. Of those homes assessed 21% need major repairs, 35% need minor repairs, and 43% are destroyed. When we look at the homes that had over 50% of damage, 82% of them had damage to the roofs, 61% had damage to the walls, and 31% had damage to the foundation. Our housing repair program is training community workers and homeowners in the correct way to secure tarps to their roofs. We have also reinforced housing for an additional 259 homes spread across the neighborhoods where many of the displaced persons came from. This supports their return home and strengthens infrastructure in the local communities hardest hit by Matthew.
To date we have removed 49,835 m3 of rubble, cleared and repaired 24.3 km of road, and created 22.12 km of new road access across the Sud and Grand-Anse regions. Our mobile clinics have provided services to 2,405 people since Hurricane Matthew relief efforts began. 30% of these patients have been children.
Responding to Hurricane Matthew
When Hurricane Matthew struck her home Antoinise Altine lost everything, her business and her house. In the photo above, she stands in the ruins of the home she rented in Jeremie. Jeremie was one of the hardest hit cities on the South West coast of Haiti.
This is not the first time Altine has been forced to rebuild. She lost everything she had in the 2010 earthquake and relocated to Jeremie where she made her living selling second hand clothes.
Altine still lives in Jeremie and has moved in with her landlord after leaving the temporary shelters because she feared the spread of cholera. She is separated from her children who are staying with friends and neighbors in Jeremie.
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Sean Penn Talks Haiti, Humanitarianism and Hollywood
If Sean Penn could offer up one piece of universal advice, it would probably be ‘Don’t believe everything you read.’
If you assumed this was in reference to how he’s portrayed in the press, you’d be partially correct. It’s more than that though: the award-winning humanitarian and two-time Oscar-winning actorwould also be alluding to the public perception of Haiti, a place he has personally invested his time and finances in, and his attention to, for the past six years.
After an earthquake ravaged the Caribbean country in 2010, he founded J/P Haitian Relief Organization (HRO), which began as an emergency relief organization of 32 Americans. It has since expanded to a rank of nearly 200 — most of whom are Haitian — with a goal of turning over the previously-built medical, educational and community development centers entirely to the Haitian people.
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BBC Interviews the Interim President of Haiti with J/P HRO CEO
“Non-profit relief organisation J/P HRO, which has been delivering aid to the people of Haiti since 2010, says there could be a serious crisis in the offing.
‘What we’re seeing is a lot of hunger. Haiti has experienced three years of drought before the hurricane so there were already high levels of malnutrition.
‘Now tens of thousands of acres of crop land and millions of fruit trees have been destroyed,’ J/P HRO’s chief executive Ann Lee said.”
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Summit for Haiti Hurricane Relief
On January 12th, 2010 a 7.0 magnitude earthquake wrought destruction across Haiti. On October 4th, 2016 Hurricane Matthew ravaged the South Western coast of the country, displacing 75% of the region, and spawning a new humanitarian crisis as cholera once again rages. Alberto de Diego, one of our 2010 J/P HRO volunteers, and his dad have decided to respond once again.
In two weeks they will climb Aconcagua Mountain, Argentina to raise awareness for this crisis. Haiti, known as the country of mountains beyond mountains, is a land contrasted by natural beauty and extreme poverty. What is most inspiring about the Haitian people is their will to never give up. The will to keep climbing, keep striving for a better life. His journey highlights this interconnectedness of our global humanity.
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Our #GivingTuesday response to the Hurricane Matthew housing crisis
Darline Bourdeau, 57, stands in what remains of her home that is now missing its roof. She and her husband have managed to patch part of their roof, but it is barely enough for the seven occupants of the home to sleep under. Sustainable housing for the 175,000 Haitians displaced by Hurricane Matthew continues to be a challenge as rains persist. Environmental fragility leads to economic vulnerability and creates new challenges for sustainable development in Haiti.
There are 307 shelters in schools, churches, and private structures across the affected region. It has been reported that some of these shelters are two or three times over capacity. Food is scarce and sanitation facilities can be poor. Many Haitians, like Darline, choose to live in their damaged homes rather than stay in temporary shelters because of challenges such as these. Darline shares this home with her husband and five of her nine children; when it rains at night it is still a struggle to stay dry.
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Thank you to everyone who donated for #GivingTuesday! It was a very successful campaign for us this year. Your support is vital in continuing our lifesaving programs.
Head over to http://jphro.org/ to see your donations in action.
Mesi anpil tout moun!