November 2021 brought together money, music, and power in a particular way, reminding us in our work that working in Haiti requires spirit and resilience.
As many in our circle know, H.O.P.E. won a highly prestigious and competitive Investor Tank grant from USAID for $150,000. We spent months working on this grant, partnering with Haiti Renewal Alliance and the incredible people at that organization who promote diasporic innovation and community. We went into the final week of that competition united as a team and gratified for the profound reach of our network—win or lose, we were ever mindful of how many people supported our vision, in Haiti and the U.S.A. Just days after the Investor Tank win, Dorothea Haus Ross Foundation awarded us a grant for $38,000 to amplify our work with orphaned and vulnerable children in Borgne. We do not take a single dollar for granted at H.O.P.E. We operate a million-dollar operation on roughly $250,000 a year. We accomplish this remarkable productivity in large measure because the team in Borgne places this work as their singular priority and we only pay Haitian team members, working on the ground in Borgne. Aside from an hourly administrator, we do not pay any staff in the U.S.A.—not even our Executive Director, Jim Myers. Our work attracts incredibly talented people, and we leverage our assets for Borgne.
On November 20, we celebrated our work! We paused for one night, united across the western hemisphere and joined by hundreds of people to enjoy the HOPE’s ALIVE benefit concert. The Bill Welch Band, The Bill Tiberio Band, Reverend Myra Brown, and some founding members of our partnership with Spiritus Christi—Kathleen and Bill Welch—gathered to provide a beautiful evening. We are so grateful to all, and perhaps most especially because Spiritus Christi offered a spiritual home to Rose Marie and has been our most long-standing and meaningful partnership.
On November 21, our Alyans Sante Borgne administrator—Jonas Gerard—was arrested while trying to purchase fuel in Cap-Haitien. He had done nothing beyond seek to purchase enough fuel to keep the hospital running, and he was released almost immediately. Yet, we are reminded that we operate in a system where powerful forces—some created by nature and some by human beings—interrupt our work, no matter how well it may be going. The staff at Alyans Sante Borgne faced this year COVID-19 (as did the world), massive inflation rates, a currency adjustment that was not in their favor, a presidential assassination, ongoing political insecurity, an earthquake, and now, a fuel shortage of epic proportion.
We will continue raising money to honor the needs and capabilities of our friends in Borgne. We will continue to make and listen to music and stories. And, we will, like everyone who works in the global south, continue to operate in a global system that is fundamentally broken. We remain grateful in this work for the optimism, joy, and camaraderie we enjoy with our partners in Borgne and our supporters throughout the world.