We all know about Haiti’s problems, but I would like to tell you about solutions to those problems that I saw during a visit to the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Port-au-Prince last month. I would also like to invite you to join me in helping make those solutions happen.
I have been working for social justice for a long time—as an activist in the 1960s, a civil rights lawyer in the 1970s, and training public interest lawyers as a Professor and Dean of the University of San Francisco Law School. These experiences taught me that making a difference is hard, but it is possible with the right approach. When I retired as dean this spring, I chose to volunteer for the cholera justice team at the BAI and the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), where I could put my skills to work and make the most difference.
When I visited last month, BAI was full of committed, idealistic lawyers, lawyers-in-training and activists, all of them working with passion, courage and intelligence to transform the unjust structures that keep Haitians poor and Haiti vulnerable to human and natural disasters.
The BAI team isn’t just trying to make life better for all 10 million Haitians; it is succeeding:
- The Cholera Accountability Project is forcing the UN to install comprehensive water and sanitation that would save 4,000 lives per year and eliminate the country’s #1 public health problem;
- The Rape Accountability and Prevention Project has won improvements in prosecuting rape cases that increase security for 5 million Haitian women and allow them to participate more fully in the economic, familial, social and political life of the country;
- BAI is protecting lawyers and grassroots activists who in turn are enforcing the rights of displaced families, LGBT communities and other marginalized Haitians.
I had previously collaborated with IJDH and BAI for years. Like other collaborators Fatima Mevs and Nicole Lee, I knew that BAI and IJDH did great work. But I didn’t know how great until I visited BAI and met 22 young lawyers and law students—the foundation of a whole movement—training to multiply the BAI’s impressive impact.
I am so inspired by all this, and confident that BAI and IJDH are doing historic work building a more just and prosperous Haiti. Please join me in helping this future arrive sooner. Volunteer for BAI and IJDH if you can, sign up for their action alerts and information, and consider a generous donation to keep this vital work going.
Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law, University of San Francisco Law School
Inspired Volunteer, BAI and IJDH
P.S. Please join me in building BAI/IJDH’s comunity for justice in Haiti—forward this message on to five friends.