WASHINGTON, DC — The most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere currently stands in recovery from an earthquake that struck with a magnitude of 7.2. This earthquake hit the island on Saturday, August 14, 2021. It killed more than 2,000 people and injured more than 12,000. The earthquake also destroyed “more than 50,000 homes.”
With an impact twice as strong as the earthquake that hit the island in 2010, aid is more necessary than ever. Fortunately, grassroots organizations, such as Foundation Guillaume, serve as pillars of the community and lend helping hands to those whom the earthquake affected. The Borgen Project spoke with Endora Guillaume, a member of the organization and daughter of the organization’s founder, about the importance of community and service at such a strenuous time, particularly in Plaisance, Haiti.
Foundation Guillaume is a nonprofit organization that is located in Plaisance, a region in the Nord Department of Haiti. Jocelyn Guillaume started the foundation in 2001 after the death of his father, Doctor Leopold Luc Guillaume. With an aim to provide the community of Plaisance with programs that foster education, development and more. Foundation Guillaume positively impacts the lives of those in the community, particularly those who are living in poverty.
As the only nonprofit in Plaisance, maintaining Foundation Guillaume is a large responsibility; however, it serves as an important resource for those living in poverty. “[Plaisance] has a population of roughly 30,000 people with a majority of its citizens living in extreme poverty,” Guillaume said. They are “disconnected from the other more populated cities in Haiti.” It takes six hours up a mountain to get to Plaisance in a car. As a result, not a lot of aid makes its way to the area. “Thus, Foundation Guillaume has been supporting the community for more than 21 years.”
Foundation Guillaume offers a number of programs to the people of Plaisance, including student sponsorship, medical clinics, housing projects and an orphanage. Missionaries and donors contribute greatly to the efforts in providing resources to residents of Plaisance. “With the help of missionaries and donors [Foundation Guillaume], has built more than 50 houses for families and has provided countless resources for the community,” Guillaume said.
The August earthquake hit the island of Haiti with a magnitude of 7.2. Relief Web reported that the earthquake destroyed or damaged more than 80,000 homes and buildings, including churches, hospitals and schools. Hundreds of people went missing. In addition to the damage sustained, patients overwhelmed hospitals at the onset of the earthquake. Although many patients are now discharged, a number of them have nowhere to go upon release, choosing to stay at the hospital because they know they will receive water, food and clothing. There is a dire need for shelter and sanitation.
High-ranking U.N. officials, along with Haiti’s government, negotiated to send humanitarian services through “a relief convoy” that would link the capital of Port-Au-Prince with the southern peninsula of Haiti. Furthermore, USAID pledged to send $32 million to fund efforts dedicated to earthquake relief in Haiti.
Additionally, the World Food Programme (WFP) launched a “$187.3 million appeal to provide shelter, water and sanitation, emergency healthcare, food, protection and early recovery assistance to roughly half a million people.” However, infrastructural damage often strains the allocation of these resources, especially in smaller towns like Plaisance. It is often up to the organizations of the community to support its citizens.
Being that Plaisance is located approximately 10 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake, the town sustained significant damage. Many people have died or sustained serious injuries while others remain homeless. Foundation Guillaume is currently working to help rebuild Plaisance by engaging in food distribution, placing tarps on homes and setting up a temporary clinic. In total, the foundation raised more than $3,000 to go towards these efforts.
The Future Of Foundation Guillaume and Plaisance
There is much work to be done in regard to rebuilding Plaisance and the entirety of areas the earthquake affected in Haiti. This only amplifies the importance of organizations such as Foundation Guillaume. Endora Guillaume envisions a bright future for Plaisance and Foundation Guillaume. She attributes much of this to the tireless work of her father.
“I see Foundation Guillaume growing and expanding tremendously,” she said. “All my life, my dad has been the sole person running all the facilities, planning meetings, finding donors in the U.S., teaching at the school, building more homes/orphanages and more. He is in Haiti for the majority of the year helping Plaisance and has sacrificed time with his family and his basic comfort because he loves them so much.”
Guillaume hopes to continue showing up for the people of Plaisance while building upon her family’s legacy. “This community made my father into who he is and is shaping me into the woman that I’m meant to be. I plan on keeping Foundation Guillaume in the family and continuing to open more schools, more hospitals and more services for the people of Plaisance.”