Saturday, November 15, 2008

Haiti - Short Trip

I am currently on my way home from spending the week in Haiti. I was fortunate to be joined by some of our HIV/AIDS team, Dr. Esther Gwan and Joanna Mayhew, as well as Jeff Demers who provides support to the Haiti office. Later on during the week, we were all joined by a friend of World Relief, Mr. Ken Graber.

My primary purpose for the trip was to work with Ken to start the merger between our microfinance program and another microfinance program managed by World Concern. From looking through our books it is clear our program will definitely benefit from being a part of a larger microfinance program, as I believe will World Concern's program.

We met with USAID and ANIMH (the local microfinance network) and found that this would be the first merger between microfinance programs. This created quite a bit of excitement with the agencies. They are keen for consolidation in the sector, and we hope that we can document lessons learned through our merger, so that we can help other microfinance programs in the future.

I also sat with our HIV/AIDS team to discuss greater support to people giving care to HIV/AIDS sufferers and orphans. We have had a microfinance scheme within our program that has provided them with loans, this year through a grant from Tearfund UK, we are extending this.

Haiti amazes me every time I visit. I have lived in Liberia, immediately following the end of their 14 year civil war, but I think Haiti would be even harder to live in. Port Au Prince is densely populated, and very polluted. Houses cling to steep slopes that are prone to landslides due to the destruction of the environment and soil erosion. With Haiti so close to the US, it is sad that this place is one of the poorest countries in the World.

Much of the food and goods consumed in Haiti are imported. The agricultural sector is very fragile, the regular hurricanes can wipe away crops in a heartbeat. But the food that is produced is often organic, not necessarily by design, but because fertilizer is out of the reach for the majority of farmers.

Our microfinance program is looking at how we can better support the agricultural sector, how we can create 'green' loans to promote good environmental practices, and how we can help the poorest of the poor take small steps out of poverty.

Help World Relief support more people in Haiti, donate now and designate your funds to Microenterprise Development.

Thank you for your support. Gareth

Monday, November 3, 2008

DR Congo Updates

Please see the links below for updates from DR Congo.

World Relief is based in Goma and is looking to respond as soon as is possible.

Help World Relief respond, click here to donate

Miliband admits UK may send troops to bolster UN peacekeepers in Congo

Images from DR Congo§ionName=WorldAfrica

Too Slow to Act?