Thank you all partners and donors of SOPUDEP who have made the dream of a new school and training center a reality. We are extremely grateful to you all. Below are some of the images from the opening event on April 15th 2017. The new school and training center will be known as C-SAPH – “Centre Du Savoir Académique et Professionnel D’Haiti.” Many of our friends and supporters in Haiti and overseas participated in the celebration. However there were a number of people who could not attend, Sara Lee and Ans Kipping in particular have been a huge support to the new school project and to the SOPUDEP community. We would also like to acknowledge the work of our sister Sokari Ekine who was also unable to make it to the celebration.
Dear SOPUDEP supporters,
The all-volunteer-run SOPUDEP website crashed on 16th February. We sincerely apologize to all our supporters but we are pleased to say that we managed to restore the site via the backup.
The SOPUDEP family would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has over the years supported our school and many related projects. In mid-April we will be moving to a new era in our history as we formally celebrate the opening of the new school at Delmas 83.
Rea, family members and the SOPUDEP team finally made it to Despagne in the Grand Anse to deliver supplies of food, clothing, tarps and medicines. The group also distributed supplies of tarps, rice, clorox bleach and children sanitation kits to Maillou near Les Cayes.
Apologies for the video quality.
After collecting food, clothing and medical supplies Rea Dol together with members of Sopu Fanm pou Fanm and SOPUDEP For Life, left for Jérémie and the village of Despagne on Friday 14th October. They expected to spend at least three days in the village and surrounding communities meeting with people and delivering supplies. Unfortunately 4 hours from Jérémie they were in a car accident and were unable to continue. Fortunately no one was seriously hurt and they were able to return to Port-au-Prince but they plan to make the trip as soon as they can get another truck.
Rea was still able to telephone the communities around Despagne and inform them of the accident. The group also received details of the damage to property and the number of deceased in each location in the Despagne area of Grand Anse Department. These are as follows:
We have 46 people dead and 630 houses destroyed
Locality nan Sede: 141 Houses 31 dead
Locality Pomoz: 37 houses 2 dead
Locality Salfran : 26 houses no dead
Locality Madam Jean 28 houses no dead
Locality La porte : 24 houses no dead
Locality Despay 28 houses 1 dead
Locality nan Louis : 38 houses 2 dead
Locality Débat : 110 Houses 2 dead
Locality Marcel : 35 Houses 1 dead
Locality kay Antwen 16 houses no dead
Locality Kay Diri: 150 houses 7 dead
Locality Nan Sede 141 Houses destroyed 31 died
Name of the people
2. Dol Lides
3. Bruce Termilia
4. Bruce Richmond
5. Baillemi Mm Sedernier
6. Baptiste Mm Prelet
7. Dupre Jouvenson
8. Charles Wilner
9. Simon Mackenlove
10. Paul Pantal
11. Simon Lenet
12. Bruce Mikerlange
13. Bruce Mackenlove
14. Bruce Minor
15. Paul Clebert
16. Jean Louis Mélanie
17. Paul Aksel
18. Cherizol Elie
19. Dorcy David
20. Bruce Amoumoune
21. Bruce Chrilove
22. Edmond Veland
23. Dol Estra
24. Dol Samuel
25. Deralien Rachel
26. Paul Keda
27. Paul Marceline
28. Valme Ciransier
29. Beaucejour Arisca
30. Paul Liveson
31. Derice Venette
Locality Pomoz: 37 houses destroyed, 2 dea
1: Saintermoe Termilus
2: Paul Mireille
Locality Salfran: 26 houses, no dead
Locality Madam Jean: 28 houses, no dead
Locality Despagne: 28 houses, 82 dead [We are still waiting for the full list of deceased].
1: Dorasme Dersier
Locality Nan Louis: 38 houses, 2 died
1: Derice Morice
2: Sebonet Alcide
Locality Deba: 110 houses, 2 died
1: Antoine Louiyance
2: Valere Delorme
Locality Marcel: 35 houses destroyed, 1 died
1: Jean Paul Frankel
Locality Kay Diri: 50 houses, 7 died
1. Sifra Elange
2. Janvier Elene Marc Anor
3. Myrtil Marc Sauveur
4. Dupre Jeansil
5. Janvier La misère
6. Joserme ainsi connu
7. Saint Clair Tiya
This weeks theatre and campaign was in the Bobin neighborhood of Peguy Ville, a high density community with a maze of narrow alleyways and a mix of permanent and informal housing. The neighborhood has a high level of domestic violence and this was evident from the moment we arrived and began to arrange our posters and banners. We were immediately challenged by a group of young men which set the tone for the next two hours. Many of the participants were intimidated by the level of hostility which was misogynist with the men insisting women were bad and therefore needed disciplining. Rea Dol and the Bobin community leader, Rosaline Fabre Derival, did engage with the men prior and after the performance which was on sexual violence within the family.
We broke up into groups of 5 / 6 and spent an hour walking through the neighborhood handing out leaflets and talking mostly with women but some of us did approach men. Again the majority of men were hostile to us and we had a sense that the women in the community were intimidated. One man actually told us he was going to beat his wife that evening just because he felt like it.
The performance itself drew a much larger crowd than in Jalousie partly because we had a traffic free space. However we were unable to engage in a Q&A afterwards as once again a small group of hostile men argued with our organizers for over an hour. We did encounter two young men who were positive and thankful for our visit but none of the women engaged with us at the time. This is something we will reflect on and consider how to approach communities with a high level of hostility and a culture of violence.
We had an additional mid-week performance on March 8th where we invited some 200 women of different ages to attend an afternoon of theatre and discussion. The women were drawn from SOPUDEP partner organizations which includes about 15% men. The two plays were on domestic and sexual violence and each lasted 20 minutes. We then spent time discussing violence with many of the women standing up and giving testimony about their own experience and also about their organizations and how they have been a great support. We served 204 high protein meals and drinks to the visitors and our group members.
Some of the audience responses to the theatre might be difficult for non Haitians to understand for example laughter during scenes of violence. However for residents of Bobin, violence is an everyday reality and as such the street theatre performances were familiar and it is in this context that the audience sometimes respond with a ‘knowing’. We were also pleased to note that 50 + Bobin women did attend despite the risk to them personally. If each one had a positive experience which we believe they did then they will discuss their experiences with other women who did not attend. In this way we will continue to reach an ever-growing number of people.
The campaign is just beginning but from the response we have had we are confident we have begun to make the necessary impact which is why it is crucial that we are able to continue the program. Women have come up to us personally requesting more training, on VAW, fathers have come to us and asked please can their daughters join the program and to thank us for highlighting the issue of domestic and sexual violence.
It has also been a learning process for the students involved both in terms of understanding sexual and physical violence but also in organizing a campaign and working together as a group. IT has not always been easy as students wake between 4.30 and 5am and we have had to practice into the late afternoon. Finally this has been an opportunity to commune together, have fun, consider serious issues and not only eat good nourishing food but also share that with family members and friends.
This week we performed our first street drama in Jalouszie neighborhood of Petion-Ville. The hillside neighborhood is home to some 200,000 people with a high level of sexual violence. The neighborhood has no clinic and relies on a few resident nurses and midwives to provide health services for residents. The pharmacy belonging to FASA member Fleurantin Marie Enise acts as one central point for health services where she and a few local nurses provide residents with advice and non-prescription drugs. There is only one narrow road running through Jalouzi with market traders parked on either side. The small patch of concrete outside the pharmacy therefore provided us with a small space in which to perform our play and allow for space for an audience to watch.
Prior to the play we made announcements and members of FASA and SOPU Fanm Pou Fanm, sang and danced to encourage passers by to stay and watch the play. Altogether we counted 38 people at various times. We had hoped for more but the location was a difficult one. The play lasted about 15 minutes and centered on the issue of Restavek children who come from poor homes usually in the countryside to work for middle and upper class Haitians. There is a history of physical, psychological and sexual abuse of Restevek children which was highlighted in the play. After the play there were some more songs around VAW and we were pleased that we did have questions from the audience.
The event lasted about 90 minutes and we want to congratulate all the participants, including Jalouzi residents for bringing the play together and the performance. We hope as time goes by we will improve but this was an excellent beginning.
Working on the princeip of “you don’t have to be a slave in order to eat, if you are hungry you should be able to eat” [Selma James] we have made it a priority to feed ourselves, to nourish our spirits and bodies. Many of the students are food insecure and even where there is daily food it is invariably solely carbohydrates. We therefore choose to provide a more balanced diet which includes protein and carbohydrates other than rice such as sweet potato, yam and plantains. We also believe it is important to feed those who work with us and help make the project a success such as our chauffeurs and school guardians.
Next Saturday we will perform in the Bobin area of Puggy Ville also in Petion-Ville.