Women in Guyana raise $6800 for women in Haiti
Stabroek News, Guyana
February 6, 2010 in Letters
Please allow us to use your letter pages to report on the amount we have so far raised to support grassroots women in Haiti following the devastating January 12 earthquake and to thank our donors. As we previously said, Red Thread is fundraising as the Guyana coordinator of the Global Women’s Strike which works with grassroots women and men in Haiti (among many other countries), and which began to discuss this initiative with Haitian friends the very night of the earthquake.
The total we have raised to date in Guyana is G$1,397,000 [=US$ 6800]; in addition, women and men both here and abroad have written us to say that in response to our appeal they sent their donations directly to the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund (HERF).
Almost all the funds donated here were paid into the account we opened at Citizens Bank, thus we do not know the names of most donors, including the deliberately anonymous donor of a very large amount. We sincerely thank all of them for their solidarity with Haiti and among those whom we can identify because their donations were paid to us, we specially thank the women of Mahdia who sent G$14,000, and 10-year-old Georgetown schoolgirl Aisha Whittaker who donated G$1000 from savings that are very dear to her.
As we were confident they would, HERF moved quickly to provide support to grassroots women, and through them, children and other vulnerable members of families and communities. Thanks to their backing, from early on survivors were able to get water and food on credit from Haitian companies, and to distribute to those in need. It took some time for banks to reopen and there have been serious problems with money transfer systems, so many transactions continue to be conducted on credit. Without HERF’s reputation for honesty this would have been impossible and many more lives would have been lost.
A word about HERF. Unlike many other appeals, HERF was established several years ago. Founded by actors/activists Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover, it is administered by a board of Haiti solidarity workers who are deeply connected to grassroots movements in Haiti. This board includes Co-Chairs Walter Riley, civil rights attorney and Sister Maureen Duignan; and members Pierre Labossiere, Co-Founder of Haiti Action Committee; Randall White, Deacon, Allen Temple Baptist Church; Robert Roth, Educator and Co-Founder of Haiti Action Committee; and Marilyn Langlois, community advocate for Mayor’s office in Richmond, California. As part of the Global Women’s Strike, Red Thread has been working with HERF for a number of years and we can vouch for their dedication and commitment. Unlike big NGOs, they do not take an administrative cut out of funds raised and they have a track record for supporting grassroots projects, especially those that are neighbourhood-based and run by women, which would normally be neglected. Their projects have included the following:
Sustainable Agriculture – HERF has contributed much-needed funds to peasant cooperatives in various parts of Haiti, providing irrigation pumps, funds for seeds and tools, and other needed resources. They believe that local agricultural development and the growth of a cooperative movement in Haiti are part of the long-term solution to the food crisis.
Victims’ Assistance –HERF funds have supported grassroots activists who had to flee their homes and live as internal refugees. They have also contributed to campaigns to free political prisoners and given much-needed financial support to their families. In a recent case, a family could not locate their son who had been held as a prisoner in Port-au-Prince. After weeks of pressuring the authorities, they finally found his body at the morgue. No explanation was given for his death, a common occurrence in Haitian prisons.
Independent Human Rights Monitoring - HERF has given support to human rights workers and attorneys who continue, under dangerous conditions, to document human rights violations and defend victims of repression. They have provided material, psychological and legal assistance to victims of the 2004 coup. In particular, they have given continued support to the efforts to insure the safe return of Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, a central figure in Haiti’s popular movement, who was disappeared on August 12, 2007, and has not been heard from since.
Women’s Organizing – Women’s organizations are leading education campaigns, supporting market women, helping women form cooperatives, sustaining the victims of rape and other forms of sexual and physical abuse. HERF has been in the forefront of supporting these projects.
Defending Trade Union Organizers – HERF has assisted trade unionists whose labour organizing was violently attacked throughout the period of the coup against former President Jean Bertrand Aristide. They have provided support for labour activists forced from their homes and their jobs due to repression, and supported the efforts of trade unionists to fight privatization.
Education/Literacy – Since the coup, government subsidies for school children have been cut and many literacy projects have been terminated. HERF has provided funding for many important educational projects in this period: a school for poor children in Port-au-Prince; educational projects in the rural areas of northern Haiti, and literacy programmes.
The money we have so far raised in Guyana is being transferred to HERF’s account. However, we are continuing to accept donations because the people of Haiti continue to need our support. Survival is still an issue; as recently as today we heard that large numbers of Haitians are still not receiving the help they need in spite of the massive number of aid agencies and troops on the ground. Then, of course, as soon as practicable, they will have to begin to rebuild their homes and neighbourhoods.
The account name is Red Thread/Haiti Emergency Fund for Grassroots Women and Families (or Red Thread/Haiti Emergency Fund for short); the bank is: Citizens Bank at 201 Camp Street, Georgetown, Guyana, and the account number: 0218 567806.
Thank you again to all who have donated funds to date.
Andaiye and Joy Marcus
For Red Thread and the Global
Co-ordinator of Global Women's Strike
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