|OJD (Oganizasyon Jen Pou Devlopman; Youth for Development) is a co-operative organization working in the small village of La Madeleine, Petit Goave. They have envisioned the development of a community center that will include a library, internet café, tree nursery, water pump and rooms that can be used for conferences and volunteers. They are inspired by the essential philosophy of Plato which points out that community gathering centers, where people are able to share ideas of the arts, politics, and philosophy, are necessary for a healthy community working towards any common goal. For Haiti, the common goal is to alleviate the impoverished condition that plagues their society.
OJD has been working hard in their town to educate the community about environmental issues including deforestation, soil erosion, pollution through the misuse of plastics, and overpopulation. One member of the organization has been put in jail because of the group's attempts to stop the cutting down of the few remaining trees that exist in the town. They have been able to save hundreds of trees by actively engaging the people cutting down the trees in conversation about the problems of deforestation. If that doesn't work, which often it doesn't, the group threatens to take them to court. During the presidency of Papa Doc, laws were set in place that made it illegal to cut down trees larger than a certain diameter. Since the fall of Baby Doc, most of the old laws haven't been enforced, although they still exist. The group is working towards bringing environmental justice within their community. However, they are facing further challenges with local community leaders, such as judges and mayors, that have financial interests in cutting down the trees.
Haiti’s Population has been growing exponentially for the past few decades and has resulted largely in towns that line the highways without any forethought into creating livable communities. This has been mainly due to poor infrastructural planning and the overwhelming poverty. Therefore, there are hundreds of miles of highways that stretch across Haiti that have houses lining them without any town centers, parks, free spaces or civil services.
Parents, who average 2 American dollars a day, are expected to pay for their children’s education at a high premium. More than 60% of the population is considered illiterate and school funding is at its lowest. The need for income and lack of opportunity has resulted in many abuses to the land (i.e. deforestation for hard wood commerce, over planting hillsides causing erosion).
This is why OJD feels it is important to create a free space for people to come together and have access to information through books and the internet. The center will provide a facility for the townspeople to congregate, share information and hold seminars on the many pressing problems that Haiti faces. Also included will be a tree nursery to give hands on experience with the most pressing problem Haiti faces; deforestation.
The town of La Madeleine, Petit Goave is a large community of over 25,000 people. Neighboring towns have easy access to the area, and will be using the facilities as well.
There will be 14 people directly involved in the construction of the community center. This will be a board made up of one to two members from each Co-operative organization in the zone. In May of 2006, Board member Ryan McCrory worked with the local groups to organize a sister Board under HSDF, which will assist in projects undertaken by the community.
There will be approximately 10,000 children and parents who will benefit from the project through education, environmental awareness, and hands on skills training through seminars and community theatrical events.
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