We leave for Haiti on the 17th, our 4th trip this year. Everyone is anxious about instability during the elections scheduled for the 28th because there a lot of frustrated people in Haiti. Prior to our elections we see this, our economic woes are in sharp focus. We don't see rioting, but imagine a country of 9 million people where more than 10% (1.3 million) are homeless and suffering, a cholera epidemic has begun, and the aid promised to your country has not reached you or your family... elections would be very tense.
It's important for us to travel now because we have some significant work to accomplish. Sirona Cares has been working with the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) on a Community Solutions Initiative aimed at putting electricity in the homes of 1 million rural Haitians. This, like all of Sirona's work, has been designed as a sustainable solution rather than a charitable drop of equipment. The goal of our upcoming trip is to establish three pilot groups. We will supply the equipment that they will need to (a) create a business with the power; and (b) begin a battery subscription program for rural customers who can receive and recharge batteries for use in their homes.
The project has been in the works for some time, and the CSI team now has the funding to put three pilots into Haiti. The equipment and set-up team will go down in January. We need business plans from our enterpreneural partners and logistical information from them to get the project off the ground, hence the necessity of a trip during the election period.
In addition to our electricity project, our jatropha work has grown incredibly since the August trip. We now have 500 farmers eager to participate in the Miragoane area alone. I will be meeting with them, formalizing the program and funding the nurseries. The need for funding is urgent, and the project will move as quickly as funds can be raised. It has been an incredible year, full of tragedy, full of anxiety, and yet full of hope, positive action and progress. The larger organizations are stuck, working on their strategies to move Haiti forward. The funding for Haiti seems stuck as well. Sirona Cares, I'm thrilled to say, has the advantage of being smaller and able to maneuver quickly creating positive change in our communities. While others are talking, we are acting, and this should be a very exciting trip.