Rethinking Power focuses on prevention of violence against women and girls, but we could not open the difficult discussions around this issue without being sure that there were solid organizations responding to the needs of survivors of violence. When we launch debates about sexual or domestic violence, people learn—but survivors also see their lives in the discussion and come forward, often for the first time. Other organizations in the Haitian women’s movement in Haiti are an invaluable resource; they have long provided basic services and accompaniment through the sometimes-daunting legal and medical process. We work together with local organizations to learn from them, help them do what they do even better, and refer any survivors to them to ensure that everyone who comes through our door receives the help they need.
We are also dedicated to working with the Haitian women’s movement in advocacy, to help strengthen and broaden the base of the movement. The Haitian women’s movement is powerful, and has already done so much good in Haiti; at the same time, it also needs support from other community groups and institutions who have usually not been involved in supporting change—like the religious and community leaders Rethinking Power engages. We can make those links and link them with a whole host of new community-based activists, ready for change.
In our work with local organizations, we:
- Offer training and mentoring opportunities for members of several local organizations based on an assessment of their strengths and their needs in receiving survivors, offering peer counseling, and advocating for their needs.
- Regularly visit each of the organizations to help them think through organizational issues and how they can use their resources and people for maximum support to survivors.
- Help coordinate meetings between local organizations to discuss strengths and weaknesses across all organizations and how partnerships and sharing of resources can make them more effective.
- Connect Haitian women’s organizations with a network of people in their community going through the SASA! social change process, to improve referrals and discuss goals in common.
- Sponsor members of local organizations to participate in national events in the Haitian women’s movement.
This work gives Rethinking Power a broad view of the work to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls in the Jacmel area. We are well placed to use this knowledge to help direct other resources and aid from outside organizations to where it will be the most useful and make the biggest impact.
“It is so much better what we are doing here than when the people from Port-au-Prince come to give us training. They’re always in a hurry and they don’t listen. You spend time with us.” – Local Haitian women’s movement member