Act Now: Crisis on the Haitian Border

A massive crisis, fueled by racism, is unfolding along the Haitian border, and it just kicked into high gear. Now it's up to moral activists like you and me to raise awareness and stop it.

Tell Secretary of State John Kerry to push the Dominican Republic to halt any and all forced deportations of people of Haitian descent.

As you may know, Haiti and the Dominican Republic (DR) share an island. Nearly a million people of Haitian descent, most of them black, live on the Dominican Republic side. Many were born there, and until recently they had birthright citizenship just like any other Dominican.

But the Dominican government has chosen to erase the citizenship of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent and put plans in motion to force nearly all people with Haitian heritage to leave the DR. And late last week, after an announced pause, the Dominican government announced the beginning of deportations in earnest.

Imagine if the U.S. government revoked the citizenship of every Latino in our country — including U.S. citizens born right here — and forced them back to the countries where their parents or grandparents were born. Every Latino business owner, teacher, nurse, student, and child.

It's absurd. And it's happening in the Dominican Republic, right now.

The government's actions have fueled racist violence, and even before this round of deportations approximately 66,000 people had already crossed into Haiti — taking shelter in makeshift camps. Haiti is still rebuilding from a devastating earthquake, and these people face hunger, unemployment, homelessness, and being separated from their loved ones back in the DR. If the government continues to follow through on its deportation plans, hundreds of thousands more will be forced from their homes.

This racist targeting is a moral outrage, and we must act before the situation gets any worse.

So far, despite wielding huge influence in the DR, the U.S. government has not done enough to stop this human rights disaster. Secretary Kerry can — and should — intensify efforts to convince the Dominican government to put the brakes on this crisis.

Tell Secretary Kerry: Make this a top U.S. human rights priority before it gets any worse, by calling on the DR to stop the deportations immediately.

I don't always think the U.S. government should intervene in other nations' affairs, but the racist motivations behind this plan and the scale of the humanitarian crisis are so stark, I can't help but call on U.S. officials — and you — to help stop this now.

Thank you for always making time to act on your values.

UUCSJ in Haiti: Beyond Just Recovery

The Papaye Peasant Movement (MPP) of Haiti has been a UUSC partner for the past five years. Since the UU College of Social Justice (UUCSJ) was founded in 2012, MPP has also been a cornerstone partner institution as we have grown our way into dynamic experiential learning programs designed to inspire new justice initiatives.

As UUCSJ expands our work on climate justice, we are excited about some new directions for this partnership! Since its founding in 1973, MPP has focused on empowering small farmers in Haiti to improve their living conditions. Today, with more than 60,000 members, MPP’s major goals include helping Haiti regain food sovereignty, sustainably manage natural resources, and build people-centered rural communities.

These priorities intersect perfectly with the urgency of shaping our own continuing actions in response to climate change. UUCSJ's immersion learning journey to Haiti is focused on the critical issues of food sovereignty and climate justice, with the goal of helping participants act locally while understanding the issues in a global context. Participants will learn firsthand about the impacts of climate change on the Global South, the environmental damage caused by decades of colonial exploitation, and the leadership of rural peasant movements in advancing climate justice and global sustainability. In the words of Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, founder of MPP:

“Peasants are making a new road for humanity.”

Be a part of the road forward, and join UUCSJ for an experiential learning journey to Haiti! All programs run for eight days, including travel; contact UUCSJ by e-mailed info @ today to choose dates for your congregation or cluster in 2015–16.

A Girl in the Eco-Village

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UUSC has partnered with the Papaye Peasant Movement (MPP) in Haiti's Central Plateau to make it possible for survivors of the devastating 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince to build thriving new lives in the countryside. UUSC and MPP pioneered an innovative model for sustainable recovery in the form of the "eco-village." Understand the difference your support has made in Haiti by watching this video — you'll see what a day in the life of a girl in one of the eco-villages is like and what opportunities and aspirations she has ahead of her. Then share the video with your friends, family, and networks!

How Do You Measure Change?

Tracking progress in Haiti

This article originally appeared in the Winter/Spring 2015 issue of Rights Now.

Measuring social change is infinitely complex. It’s an attempt to capture human advancement, a process of figuring out whether to focus on immediate results, long-term outcomes, or broader change. UUSC navigates this terrain by reflecting on the past, assessing progress, and planning ahead. Our overarching goal is to map the change resulting from our work and demonstrate how the resources invested in partner programs lead to actual access to human rights for people throughout the world. To do so, UUSC is pioneering the Human Rights Trajectory Change Tool (HRTCT), which we’ve put to use tracking change in Haiti.

Let’s break down how the tool works. The dominant method of visualizing social change has been to work through a logical chain, translating inputs and activities into immediate outputs, short- to medium- term outcomes, and longer-term impact. Our tool brings it to a new level, capturing outputs, outcomes, and impact in a linear manner over a period of time. This ensures balance between measuring success by the numbers and by the stories, taking into account the goals and the ways that we reach them. Another key: the tool is not an end in itself, but rather a way to work with our partners to create shared learning and make our programs more effective.

This tool has been developed and honed over the past several years to help us identify the impact of our work. After laying a foundation for the tool with partners in Kenya in 2012 and piloting a more expansive impact assessment with partners in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru in 2013, we wanted to take it up a notch. We developed a complementary tool to help us assess and communicate not only our contribution to the work of partners but also the multiplying effect of partner efforts in their communities. In July 2014, we launched the HRTCT in Haiti with a one-day workshop, held in Port-au-Prince, for eight of our partners.

UUSC’s most recent work in Haiti started in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that killed approximately 230,000 people and displaced 1.5 million people. Since then, UUSC has been at the forefront of ensuring adequate relief, sustainable livelihoods, and access to rights for people affected by the disaster. During the last five years, UUSC’s program in Haiti has directly benefited tens of thousands of people through food sovereignty, gender-based violence prevention, livelihood training, child protection, and trauma recovery projects. The July workshop was key to ensuring that we capture in detail the program’s impact through a collaborative process.

Facilitated by UUSC staff, the workshop provided an opportunity to sit down with each partner, clarify how we are measuring progress, and hear how partners want to take their projects to the next level. We are combining all of the quantitative information with the qualitative stories and narrative in order to get as comprehensive a picture as possible of the partners’ impact. The visualization that we create of the trajectory of change will also be made available to partners as a way to raise further funds.

Following the workshop, we have been in continuous communication with partners about gathering data and refining how we measure success at the project level. Lutte Pou Chanjman (LPC), one of our partners in helping people heal from trauma, offers quality local resources for using the Community Resiliency Model (CRM), which is a set of skills developed by the Trauma Resource Institute, another UUSC partner, to treat the often debilitating effects of trauma. Over the past two years, UUSC supported LPC in their efforts to facilitate healing for people affected by the earthquake and to build resilience for future generations through two projects.

As a first step in the HRTCT process with LPC, we collected data on project outputs and outcomes to understand improved well-being at the community level. Outputs were defined at two levels: direct output as measured by the number of local people trained in CRM skills by LPC staff and indirect output as measured by the number of community members to whom services were provided by the trainers. Using a variety of measurements, the outcome tracks how the well-being of participants is improving.

In addition, together with LPC, we also collected qualitative stories of change that demonstrated increases in well-being at the individual level. Here’s one, in the words of an LPC staff member:

“There were three participants, in the first batch, who were agriculturists. Prior to the training, a big river flooded and ravaged their garden during Hurricane Chantal. Two of them decided to abandon the garden because they sensed defeat as they registered a huge loss of money, effort, and time. After the CRM training, two of them decided to go back to the garden and to their community. Once they went back and started working, they also convinced the other colleague, and the three men started working again in their garden and regained faith in their ability to have control over their lives and pursue their dreams.”

All of the information gathered during the HRTCT process will be synthesized for an expansive view of the difference our work — and your support — is making on the ground in Haiti. Impact assessment is essentially reciprocal learning, and we embark upon it recognizing that ownership of the impact resides with our partners. But we deeply honor all the people who contribute to the collective impact we clearly see emerging.

Rebuilding Haiti

Today marks the anniversary of the Haiti earthquake. With your support, we've worked with partners in Haiti to help rebuild lives, communities, and spirits. Moved by your commitment to our work, our partners have shared a special message!