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Passion and commitment in the works

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Passion and commitment in the works
Children participating in activities at the YWCA Haiti Youth Center

Marie-Claude Julsaint, Programme Director for the Americas and the Caribbean at the World YWCA, and a native Haitian, was recently interviewed on her work with YWCA Haiti and the situation in the country, six months after the devastating earthquake which shook the island and its population.

As Programme Director, Marie-Claude assists member associations in the region to build their capacity to respond to the needs of women and girls in their communities, based on the global movement’s strategic directions adopted at World Council 2007, as well as regional strategies adopted at Regional Training Institutes (RTIs).

YWCAs are assisted programmatically and/or financially. They are provided with technical support and advice, as well as through advocacy at global level to call for the inclusion and participation of women at country level in their response to natural disasters – such as the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Six months after the earthquake, the situation remains challenging and preoccupying. There is an increase in displaced people and a large proportion of the population – including women and children - still lives in the camps despite the fact that the rainy season has begun. The sexual violence and underreported rape cases in the camps, due to the bleak conditions as well as the women’s vulnerability owing to lack of safety and security, is of great concern. Many emergency humanitarian agencies have already left, although the country remains in an emergency and transitional phase; Unemployment is on the rise; certain schools reopened in April but many parents cannot afford fees and schools cannot pay teachers.

It is important that the general population, and women, including poor women, participate in the post-earthquake response and the reconstruction of their country, but, to date, they have been excluded from taking leadership in the relief efforts and in the decision-making process which directly impacts their lives.

The World YWCA was, however, pleased to share some recent good news from YWCA Haiti: the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI) and the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church have contributed towards YWCA Haiti’s Youth Centre. In addition, Marie-Claude managed to connect Tierra Incognita - a civil society association based in Geneva - with YWCA Haiti. At the end of this month and early August, Tierra Incognita will facilitate, together with local partners in Haiti, two four-day leadership workshops for women. YWCA Haiti will offer their Youth Centre as a venue for special children’s activities, with the participation of internationally-renowned Haitian artist and story-teller Mimi Barthelemy.

The World YWCA has been giving ongoing support to YWCA Haiti, with the help of generous contributions made by YWCAs worldwide in response to the earthquake. Assistance has been provided in nurturing existing partnerships and developing new ones both locally and globally, and by offering technical and programme support to the association’s Youth Centre.

Help Haitian women and girls go beyond the emergency - you can still contribute. The World YWCA is raising funds to rebuild the lives in the long term by supporting the efforts of our developing YWCA in Haiti. Please consider giving online today at http://www.worldywca.net/donate/index.php and designating in your donation ‘Haiti response’.

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