Dominican Republic Fairtrade producers rally to support their Haitian neighbours
Click here to read an update on the relief effort from FLO's Liaison Officer in Haiti.
Although more and more aid is finding its way through, conditions in Haiti are still incredibly difficult. However, even in this time of sorrow and disaster, there is hope. Fairtrade producers in the Dominican Republic are rallying together to help Haiti, and their efforts are being gladly received by Haitian producers and families.
Almost immediately after the earthquake struck, Fairtrade staff and producers in the Dominican Republic began looking for ways to help their Haitian neighbours. FLO’s Liaison Officer in the Dominican Republic contacted the country’s Fairtrade certified producers, all of whom offered their support. Some producer groups who had easy access to funds were able to send supplies straight away. Then on Tuesday this week, 26 people representing 17 producer organizations met to discuss next steps. All of them committed to help, both short and long term. Key action steps included obtaining a list of supplies needed from FLO’s Liaison Officer in Haiti, sending much needed supplies of water, food and medication, and opening an account for donations. There are also many reports of individual producers sending supplies across the border to Haiti.
FLO’s Liaison Officer for Dominican Republic summed up the mood by saying:
“We are very happy about the show of solidarity by producers and exporters from the Dominican Republic and also about the great expression of sympathy of the Dominican people in general. We are just trying to be good neighbours and be the first ones to come to the aid of the Haitian people.”
In addition, FLO has offered symbolic financial support for FT producers and their families and for FLO/FLO-Cert staff in Haiti. Our Liaison Officer has arranged food kits for about 100 families, which will help bridge the gap until the next delivery from the Dominican Republic.
Back in Haiti, producers and their families are still trying to come to terms with the horrific events of the last weeks. Some of our producers in the South were directly affected by the earthquake and nearly all have been indirectly hit by the loss of loved ones, extremely high food prices and lack of infrastructure. It will take years for them to fully recover. For this reason, producers in the Dominican Republic are already planning how to help Haiti long term. Once reconstruction has begun, another meeting of producers will be held to determine how Fairtrade producers can best help the reconstruction process.
FLO’s Liaison Officer for Haiti, who only began work for FLO a few weeks ago, sums up the determination of the Haitian people to overcome this tragedy:
“The disaster has affected us all. But now is not the time to lose heart. For my part, I will continue fighting and will do all I can to help alleviate the suffering of my people and to support the reconstruction of my country”.
And producers are gladly receiving the help offered by their Dominican Republic neighbours. One producer commented: “The word solidarity has now taken on a different meaning for us in Haiti, because without it Haiti would never have survived. The help that we are receiving from the Dominican Republic is just incredible.”