Haiti front pic

Failure to assist a nation in difficulty, a tacit complicity

Fondation IDEO, Haiti

‘Members Stories’ is a new series of articles issued by the Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS) in direct collaboration with its members, featuring the work of its members.

Curious to find out more about our colleagues in Haiti? This week, we discussed with Roseline Benjamin, Marie-Marguerite B. Clérié and Frédérique Clermont, Haitian natives and residents. They spoke to us about the current situation in the country, their personal motivation to stay and work for the restoration of peace, and a major IDEO project on the involvement of students and teachers in schools.

Where do you get your determination to stay and live in Haiti despite the particularly difficult context, and to commit yourself to restoring its peace?


Marie-Marguerite B. Clérié :I spent my entire childhood under the bloodthirsty Duvalier dictatorship, and after my father's enforced disappearance, injustice in all its forms became unbearable to me. At a very young age, I decided that, as an adult, I would work to denounce all forms of injustice. Once I had finished my studies in educational psychology, I had just one idea in mind: to return to my country and get down to work to help change attitudes and develop a fairer, more harmonious society. It is still an arduous task, but I remain hopeful of a better tomorrow in a healed and pacified Haiti.”


Frédérique Clermont : I witnessed and personally experienced some very painful events in my childhood. I have come to understand that there is no point in wallowing in self-pity or feeling guilty, but rather in continuing to dream together of a new Haiti and working towards the fulfillment of our life's mission. If we are to overcome the country's current cynicism, it is clear that an awakening of consciousness is essential. That is why we are working to transmit the values that drive us to the entire population.  My country, Haiti, is a paradise, as MIKABEN says in his song, and I want to prove him right! We have a responsibility to spread the values of generosity, empathy and love around us, and even more so around the world. Even if it sounds idealistic, we have to keep moving forward on this path.”



Roseline Benjamin :Like my colleagues, I lived under the Duvalier dictatorship, and on April 26 1963, a dark day for a large part of the Haitian population, I experienced the first great ordeal of my life: aged 16 at the time, my father was shot by Duvalier's henchmen, plunging my family into great difficulty. He nursed a wound in his leg until the last day of his life, and was the only survivor of that atrocious day. Since then, I have never stopped looking for answers to these important questions: why so much suffering in my country, why these repeated crises? How can I heal from all these wounds? These reflections led me to study psychology, to make researchs in philosophy and spirituality, and today to become an Agent for Peace. For nearly fifty years, I have been accompanying people and communities in difficulty, never losing hope that Haiti will one day know peace, that it will once again become the Pearl of the Antilles.” 


Their commitments at a glance


In collaboration with the PSA foundation (Projet Saint Anne) in Camp Perrin in the South of Haiti, the Ti Souf foundation, through Roseline and Mélodie Benjamin, ran two workshops for a group of children supported by the PSA and their parents respectively, on the following theme: "Loving yourself, loving your community, loving your country".


In the context of this difficult situation, the school system is the sector that is suffering the most serious repercussions. Roseline introduces us to the IDEO Foundation's project for the renewal of education in the country. She describes the project as one that is at once past, present and future, and for which a genuine teacher training program has been created, a program that has already proved its worth and whose results have, in Marie-Marguerite's words, far exceeded expectations. The aim is truly to educate Haiti's youth, to reconnect them with their duty of citizenship and rebuild the country in that image.  

Roseline Benjamin : “Thirty-two years ago, in 1992, together with friends and other professionals, including Frédérique and Marie-Marguerite, I founded IDEO. After three decades of work and wonderful experiences, in August 2023, we were able to launch a new program entitled "Pour une Culture de l'Amour et de la Paix dans les Familles, les Écoles et les Communautés Haïtiennes" ("For a Culture of Love and Peace in Haitian Families, Schools and Communities"). Faced with the violent situation in Haiti, we realized the urgent need to set up peace education programs. Initially, this approach was aimed specifically at a group of 25 schools and 334 principals. The reactions of the participants, the results in terms of awareness and behavioral changes from one week to the next, have far exceeded our expectations. Our current aim is not only to extend this experience to the entire education system, but also to make it available to the general public. This is why one of the IDEO Foundation's most urgent projects, for which we are seeking funding, is to train some forty new Agents for Peace in order to reach the majority of the population, including vulnerable communities and neighborhoods. In fact, for several years, if not decades, the Haitian population has been living through dramatic times, and the situation of serious insecurity is only getting worse. Only by teaching with emotional, spiritual and financial freedom can peace be established in Haiti, and lasting solutions found to the country's problems.”

Marie-Marguerite, supported by her colleagues, confided to us that she sees a glimmer of hope for young people in this gloomy environment. In recent days, she has seen a certain recovery in the education system and is convinced that, by the start of the next academic year, the majority of schools will be able to open their doors again. She is delighted that the pupils in the schools benefiting from the training program will be welcomed by teachers who are motivated and trained to respond appropriately to their pupils' learning needs.


Tisouf Foundation brought a large group of artists from the Haitian music scene to Limonade, in northern Haiti, to plant trees in Mikaben's honor on the first anniversary of his death.

I wish, with all my heart, that international aid to disadvantaged countries, and particularly to my country Haiti, were more humane. That aid be given more directly where the results really help to improve people's daily lives. It's a cry from the heart.- Marie-Marguerite B. Clérié


Finally, although the IDEO Foundation's program has been successful for the time being, its members told us that they are aware that, to perpetuate and strengthen its action, as well as to set up other similar projects of vital use in Haiti, they need more support from all possible stakeholders, and in particular from the international community. However, it is with undisguised anger that they denounce the lack of solidarity on the part of this same international community, despite the country's particularly dramatic situation. 

Through this article, they wish to sound the alarm and draw the world's attention to the plight of Haitians from all walks of life, with particular emphasis on the suffering of the population living in an education system that has been taken hostage: a considerable drop in class sizes due to families and teachers moving out of the capital, or even out of the country, and enormous stress affecting young people's ability to learn, to name but a few.

They urge greater solidarity on the part of the international community, more thoughtful and joint action on its part, and support for the work they are doing in families, schools and communities in Haiti through the training of Artisans pour la Paix. Finally, they call for the healing of their country and an end to the arms trafficking that perpetuates violence.


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