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Community Engagement & Service

Fault Lines: The Successes and Failures of International Aid in Haiti

Haiti Alt Break 2016-2017

The Program:

Haiti’s history is one that is rich with turmoil and triumph. Time and time again the people of the western side of Hispaniola have proved that ultimately the Haitian soul is one that is resilient. The first time was witnessed when the revolution against the French occurred, making Haiti the first free black nation in 1804. The resilience of Haitians was more recently shown during the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.When examining how the individuals overcame these instances of adversity was with the help of one another. This is even witnessed in the country’s coat of arms “L’Union fait la force” meaning strength in unity. Through the lenses of public health and local entrepreneurship we will examine the success, failures, and continual challenges of International Service.

A critical and honest analysis of past and present practices offers a guide for the future. Our Alt Break will explore the specific role of grassroots organizations and how they work to overcome health disparities. Community partners like Fonkoze work within communities individualizing their approach, which then allows them to have lasting impacts on their clients. They do not only focus on the individual; they also work towards changing the larger societal inequalities such as gender roles. 

We will also discuss the role that the actors like the United States, France and the United Nations have played in the development of Haiti. Without these outside influences, it is reasonable to say that Haiti’s economic and governmental state would not look the same. Flooding the economy with foreign aid these actors crippled the country with what may have started out as the purest of intentions.

Engagement Itinerary:

Day 1/Sat.: Arrive in Port Au Prince. Travel to N’a Sonje foundation. Today’s orientation will include a history lesson with N’a Sonje.

Day 2/Sun.: Stay in Na’ Sonje. Visit various Na’Sonje operations and conduct interviews with participants.

Day 3/Mon.: Travel to OSAPO. Take a tour of the clinic and visit local households.  Question and Answer session with Dr. Marius.  Assist with any minor project around the clinic.  

Day 4/Tues.: Meet with clinic staff and local residents.  Conduct interviews and evaluations based on pre-departure questionnaires.

Day 5/Wed.: Travel to Mirebelais from OSAPO. Meet with Fonkoze representatives; learn about the organization as a whole. Visit surrounding waterfall of lagoon (dependent on what is in the area).

Day 6/Thurs.: Spend the day visiting Fonkoze clients of different microfinance levels. Visit women’s solidarity group as well.

Day 7/Fri.:  Visit Partners in Health. Spend the morning shadowing doctors and the surveys and evaluation.

Day 8/Sat.: Travel back to Na’ Sonje. Have a day of reflection in Na’ Sonje.

Day 9/ Sun.: Morning tour in Port Au Prince. Depart Port Au Prince – Arrive Washington, DC



Quick Facts

Key social justice themes: Race, Gender, Public Health

Engagement Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Tentative Engagement Dates: December 28th, 2016- January 12th, 2017

Faculty/Staff Advisor: Dr. Bette Dickerson

Cost: $3060 (includes airfare, lodging, insurance, food, transportation, guides, activities. Does not include applicable immunizations or visa costs)



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Meet Your Student Leaders!

Emily Paffhausen is a sophomore studying public health and biology. Currently, Emily works as a research assistant in a lab examining the causes and effects of obesity at a molecular level. Emily is particularly interested in the relationship between infectious disease expansion and social and economic growth within developing countries.  

“I’m excited to co-lead a program that I hope will challenge student’s ideas surrounding international aid and gain real perspective on what is working, what is not and how we can improve.”

Brennon Thompson is a senior in SIS, studying community development and minoring in public health. In the spring of 2015 Brennon had the opportunity to go to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with AU Alt. Break. Brennon is interested in the intersection of international development and public health as a critical point of improving quality of life and well-being. In the fall of 2015 Brennon studied public health at the University of Nairobi’s School of Medicine in Kenya. 

“I hope this program allows students to challenge their perspectives and critically reflect on international service through first-hand experience.”