Haiti – Power to the People

AMURTEL in Haiti has joined hands with a local women’s group called the Association of Popular Educators from Anse Rouge (AEPA) to form a community bank that will support the development of cooperative businesses through micro-credit.

Since June, 2008 AEPA has been mobilizing women in northwestern Haiti to take control over their economic survival by training them in small business enterprises. AEPA has already formed 34 self help women’s groups with a membership of more than 500 women. Under AEPA coaching during the weekly meetings, the women have identified potential income-generating projects in their communities and have managed to raise the original start-up capital from their own meager funds!! They are now on the road to self-reliance.

This year AMURTEL has been upgrading the skills of the AEPA monitors in small business development and financial planning through a series of training sessions. To celebrate their success the women gathered in Source Chaudes village on International Women’s Day, March 8 for a parade and rally. The celebration and march followed a two day women’s empowerment training for the women leaders. After gathering together at AMURT/EL’s newly constructed Community Center for New-Humanist Education, the women sang cooperative songs and marched together to the village square, dancing and singing in celebration of their day.

“Today marks a historical day for these women”, said Dinali Abeysekera, Women’s Empowerment Project Coordinator for AMURTEL. “Just two years ago, not a single women’s organization existed in this commune. Today the women are not only marching together in solidarity, but they are working together in cooperative organizations to operate businesses, improve their health, and provide support to their families and children.”