What’s a ‘social movement’?

We get asked this question a lot. Because we don’t always function like many other organizations in Haiti, our work is sometimes a little more, well, challenging to explain.

We help Haitians build social movements that they’ve started before us and they’ll continue for years to come.

What that looks like on the ground is a little easier. Our partners carry out our programs like Child Protection and Rethinking Power, provide support to networks of activists, and advise the Haitian government on laws and best practices surrounding the issues that we’re fighting to change.

But what can we do here, in countries that are not Haiti?

The events we took part in this past month shed some light on what building a social movement means here, in our own backyard.

1. At DC’s 4th annual Stop Modern Slavery walk,we helped people get informed about restavèk slavery and talked to them about how they can work with us to join the fight.

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Programs Director Coleen Hedglin (wo)mans the Beyond Borders booth at DC Stop Modern Slavery’s 4th annual walk.

2. For International Day of the Girl, we raised awareness by participating in a panel about issues young girls face every day in Haiti and hosting a screening of the well-acclaimed filmGirl Rising, which traces the lives of 8 girls around the world, all struggling to find a way to stay in school.

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Communications and Development Associate Kendra Davis (second from left) spoke at American University about challenges to girls education in Haiti.

3. At the end of the month, we continued the dialogue by hosting Beverly Bell, a long-time activist for local-level change in Haiti and founder of the grassroots network Other Worlds.

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Beyond Borders’ Executive Director David Diggs holds the mic for long-time friend and activist Bev Bell, who reads her latest book Fault Lines: Views Across Haiti’s Divide.

So, here, movement-building looks like that: learning the facts, raising awareness, and spreading the words of those least often heard.

Beyond Borders is committed to doing just that, as are those that we support.

At the reading, Bev–who leverages the voices of the voiceless in her latest book Fault Lines: Views Across Haiti’s Divide–said “After the earthquake, the aid that was most helpful was aid that was given to small, grassroots groups in Haiti. Beyond Borders and others were very involved in channeling aid to these groups.

The very, very best source for money–both in terms of alleviating need and transferring power to those folks in those communities so that they can lead their own reconstruction process–is through grassroots Haitian community groups, and social movements.”

We couldn’t agree more.