“This is where we fail, the single leadership process. Forgot about the white saviour, just ‘the saviour’. No, no, no, no!”

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Episode notes

Marie-Rose founded ESPWA not long after the 2010 earthquake which killed some 200,000 people. This led into eight years of intensive support to community-driven planning, with particular focus on the Grand ‘Anse region.

We discuss the difficulties of building an inclusive platform in rural areas with little infrastructure and the usual rivalries; her own family’s heritage of political activism; and what it was like to encounter international institutions as the face of a Haitian organisation.

Topics discussed:

[02:05]  Pivoting from community development in the United States to rural Haiti. Commonalities in how people can be politically and economically marginalised.

[10:45]  Connecting with her family’s roots in political activism in Haiti. First steps in setting up a community foundation in the Grand ‘Anse region, in the wake of the 2010 earthquake.

[24:10]  How to develop an inclusive platform in the Haitian context. Early difficulties in communicating this vision to local and international partners.

[35:25]  The concentration of attention and resources in Port-au-Prince. Relief and reconstruction after the earthquake, and how this was seen from the Grand ‘Anse.

[40:25]  Difficulties in dealing with international donors and multi-national charities. Encountering low levels of trust in Haitian leadership.

[54:55]  How to make the community foundation sustainable. Where Marie-Rose wants to go after eight years working on these issues.

[1:05:00]  Learning from an often-gruelling experience. The choice between the international development sector and a shark tank.