Two years ago on a flight to Miami my wife and I met a Chad Bissonnette, a young man around our sons’ ages on his way to Haiti. During the flight we learned that Chad was returning to Gran Sous, where he was working with the local community to develop a reliable source of clean drinking water. His approach to development was not of the educated-north-american-bestows-his-wisdom-on-the-locals school. His method was both simple and radical–work with the community to figure out what they need, not what I think they need, assist them in putting together the process to achieving their goal, and then use my resources to help them achieve it. We followed his project via its website, contributed a modest amount of money, and stayed on his email list.
A year later the earthquake devastated Haiti and Roots for Development, Chad’s organization, ramped up to take on new projects. Roots continues to employ its bottom-up approach, which is the only sustainable method of effecting change. You know the saying–give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll feed himself for a lifetime. Yesterday my wife saw that Chad wrote a piece on The Huffington Post titled A New Mandate for Development in Haiti which addresses the thousands of non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) working now in Haiti, the wasted resources of overlapping, competing, and uncoordinated projects, and the benefits of community-based development. The wisdom of his approach is evident to me, and Roots of Development deserves the attention.
Congratulations, Chad, on what you and your Roots colleagues are accomplishing. Mentions in The Huffington Post and A Foolish Consistency in the same week–does it get better than that?