Be Like Brit is located in Grand Goâve, 30 miles southwest of the Capital, Port-au-Prince. Grand Goâve is a market town, with an estimated population of 27,500. It is a short distance to the Caribbean located on the southern coast of Haiti. We are directly on the Gulf of Gonaive to our north, which leads to the Atlantic Ocean. Grand Goâve was chosen as the location for BLB because Brit had been scheduled to go there the day after the earthquake. Her group was to volunteer at a fishing village served by the organization Food for the Poor.
GRAND GOÂVE IS OUR COMMUNITY. The people of Grand Goâve have been supportive and actively involved in our efforts from the time that we first looked at the site of The Children’s Home. Today, Be Like Brit is the largest employer in the area, with an average work force of 100 staff, along with additional employees for construction projects. All but two of our employees in Haiti are from the Grand Goâve area.
We believe strongly that in order to best help, we must involve our community members in solving the problems we face. We never assume to know what is best or most needed to help a family who may be struggling. Our local staff, which include social workers, nurses and teachers, develop the treatment plans and curriculum for our children. Our policies and our processes include our local staff and members of the local community every step of the way. We have a clear appreciation for and insistence on a collaborative approach to problem solving in our communities, and know that our community and friends in Haiti are the best experts in helping us guide this along. This is why at every level of the decision-making process, all interested parties are involved, fostering a truly community-driven response to the issues we face.
Water Distribution: Be Like Brit uses a nanotechnology filtration unit to purify our drinking water. Since we opened in 2013, we have distributed up to 1,000 gallons of purified water daily to local families. Less than half of the people in rural Haiti have access to clean water, and many die each year from water-borne diseases. In 2016, we expanded our wells and rain-water catchment basins, and we are increasing our daily distribution to 2,000 gallons daily, serving upwards of 75 families per day. With the average household size in Haiti being approximately 6, we estimate that we’re serving between 450-500 individuals daily.
Housing: As of the end of 2016, our Britsionary volunteers have built over 70 houses for people in the neighboring area. These are sturdy houses with concrete floors and metal roofs, and they all withstood the devastation that Hurricane Matthew brought to the area in October 2016. We estimate that more than 300 people live in the houses that have been constructed to date. We plan to build up to at least 20 additional houses in 2017.
Health Care: The Children’s Home has a well-equipped clinic, providing general medical, dental, and opthalmalogic care, with the technological capabilities to operate telemedicine equipment. The clinic is staffed by volunteers from Medical Centers in North America who typically come down for week-long service projects; it serves our children, our staff and their families, and is open to the community whenever providers are available to us throughout the year. We are now expanding these services by providing medical clinics to people in the local community. We plan to serve up to 600 people in 2017, focusing on preventative education, well-child, and maternal and child health initiatives (MCH). In January of 2017, Be Like Brit became an approved pre-designated Landing Zone for the Haiti Air Ambulance, enabling us to faciliate emergency air evacuations by helicopter in the most desperate of situations.
Community Projects: Be Like Brit serves as the host organization and facilitators of a Deep Impact Partnership (DIP) with the Life is Good Playmakers of Haiti. This DIP is designed to provide professional training to schools and caregiver staff not only at Be Like Brit, but in the schools in which our children attend. This systems-approach is designed to provide more consistent and appropriate care to children across the board. Playmakers is the charitable arm to the Life is Good Corporation and uses play as a way for children to work through challenging histories, traumas, and experiences. Our caregiver staff as well as the teachers at the two schools that our children attend have all participated in this workshop/training since 2014.
Our children and staff also work together with the City of Grand-Goâve, leading community park clean-up initiatives and hosting cultural and musical events in these public spaces. We continue to collaborate with other schools, children’s homes, missions and organizations in our area and beyond whenever possible, demonstrating our willingness to work with others toward the same goals.
Hurricane Matthew: When this Category 5 storm hit the southwest coast of Haiti in October of 2016 with devastating winds, heavy rainfall, and subsequent flooding, Be Like Brit rose to the occasion. Our Children’s Home became an emergency shelter for over one hundred people, including families of staff and our neighbors whose houses had been destroyed. BLB appealed to our friends and supporters, and raised funds to send over 16,000 pounds of food, medicine, and supplies on a 40-foot shipping container, which was then shipped to Haiti. We also expanded our house-building program, committing ourselves to build homes for those who lost theirs in the storm.