Don’t Just Donate!
We’ve said it–don’t just donate, we’ve been preaching this for a while now and will continue to preach it. Sending barrels of clothes, school supplies, food, and more, is a form of dumping; by doing this, you are disrupting the local market and also running small businesses out of business, instead, partner up with local businesses to buy what you were going to buy abroad. Some may say that it will be too expensive, that they will overcharge you, and you will not get your money’s worth. Listen, in any country that has experienced inflation and is still in it will always be expensive. But, did you realized that you paid more when you do the transaction abroad, do the calculation, the amount you purchased these items, add the amount it cost you to send to Haiti (either by boat or plane), add the tax you will pay at the “douane,” then add the price to transport it to the location (price for fuel). It’s possible that you’ve realized that you were spending more than you anticipated.
Now let’s discuss something that is more important, donating versus sustainable investment. Within the Haitian diaspora, “we” feel that by donating some school supplies, some food is enough to say that “we” have done something for our country as well as a community but we are merely putting a bandage on the problem. We are not saying that what you are doing or can afford to do doesn’t have an impact; however, that is not the impact you should be looking for. Temporary help. Those school bags will rip, those school supplies will run out, and unfortunately, the community will forever depend on you. This vicious cycle of dependency will continue if we do not sit down and talk about how we the diaspora has contributed to the crippling of our people.
We need to talk about sustainable projects that have positive externalities to understand this theory. A viable project consists of an ongoing support system (financially as well as a managerial), partnering with local businesses (it’s best to partner with local businesses to contribute to the local economy) to provide the essential, for example, you can partner with Solo Bag to offer a sustainable bag that is both solar power and durable (it won’t rip after their first semester). You can create collaborative partnerships with local organizations who are doing the same thing as you are doing. Sustainability is not you providing school supplies like backpacks, notebooks, pen/pencils, the basics; yes it is essential; however, it makes more sense to partner with that school to create a STEM Cell program, do fundraising to get the materials like the computers, the books, as well as an instructor to teach the kids about STEM Cell or coding. This vital skill will help them in the future, this project is not a one week or one month project, it’s something that will be embedded into the school for future students, and once they learn this skills it’s up to you to come up with plan B, what else can you do once they graduate from the STEM cell program?