Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Brian Concannon Letter December 13, 2011

Dear Friend,

We all know what the proverb says. But if it were really honest, it would say:

“Give a man a fish, for a day he eats.

Teach a man to fish, for a lifetime he learns that there are few fish for the poor because powerful boats from powerful countries take the fish offshore leaving people from poor countries dependent on imports.”

Our addition is: “Teach poor people to enforce their human rights, they make society more equitable, stable, independent and prosperous forever.”

We are asking you to donate today to help the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) keep working alongside poor Haitians fighting to enforce the basic rights they need to enforce to live a life of dignity and build a stable society. This work goes straight to the roots of Haiti’s problems — the injustice that keeps the majority of Haitians poor and vulnerable to natural, political and economic disasters.

The truth is that knowledge transfer — teaching a man to fish or a woman to disinfect her cooking water — is important, but is often useless or temporary without a broader effort to stop the injustice that prevents the effective use of the knowledge.

Look at Rosa Parks: she did not just need a ride home from work. She needed a public transportation system that respected her right to equal treatment. Similarly, our own work addresses the root causes of problems in Haiti, and implements system-wide solutions:

  • Women at risk of sexual assault: receive whistles and self-defense training, but all poor Haitian women will remain highly vulnerable unless the justice system deters rape by effectively prosecuting rapists;
  • Earthquake survivors living in camps: receive lessons on using soap and disinfectant to prevent cholera, but that knowledge will not help the thousands of families who are being illegally evicted to places where they cannot obtain soap or clean water.

So our lawyers at the BAI stand up for rape victims in court. Even better, the BAI’s Advocacy Network trains women to stand up behind the lawyers, learning how to assert their own rights confidently and showing the judges and prosecutors that the justice system’s treatment of women is being watched. As a result, police, prosecutors and judges are treating women victims fairly and arresting and prosecuting rapists effectively.

Help keep this work going – donate today.

Our lawyers stand up for families at risk of illegal eviction, in court and on the streets in negotiation with police and landlords. Even better, we provide “know-you-rights” training that fuels a growing housing rights movement in Haiti. As a result, thousands of families have been protected from illegal evictions, while learning skills to enforce a broad range of their rights.

Women freed from fear and armed with advocacy skills provide better for their families and contribute more to the nation’s economy and society. Families with secure housing raise happier, healthier and better-educated kids. Countries where women are safe and children are in school are more prosperous and stable.


Brian Concannon, Jr.

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Contact IJDH

Institute for Justice & Democracy In Haiti
15 Newbury St
Boston, MA

Telephone: (617) 652-0876
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