Haiti Accompaniment Project          Aug 10 2004

News HaitiAction.net

Haiti Accompaniment Project Call for Volunteers:

In March 2004 a number of US based groups formed the Haiti Accompaniment Project to organize teams and individuals who are committed to physically standing in solidarity with the Haitian people in the aftermath of the February 29th coup d'etat. Last week we issued a report on the current political climate in Haiti which can be viewed at our website: www.hometown.aol.com/haitiproject.

We are currently looking for volunteers to travel to Haiti for a minimum of two weeks during the months of September and October 2004.

The goals of the project are twofold 1) Accompaniment of poor communities, individuals or institutions facing repression. 2) Getting the voice of Haiti's poor (which is nearly absent from all the reporting on Haiti) out to the world. This includes documenting human rights abuses and exerting pressure on the media and international human rights organizations to report the human right abuses being committed.

Volunteers act as non-violent witness in Haiti. Accompaniment activities include: providing an international presence at demonstrations, meetings, or at sites where accompaniment has been requested, visits to prisons and with political prisoners, trips outside of Port-au-Prince for the purpose of accompaniment and or human rights documentation. An integral part of the project is the documenting of human rights violations suffered by those whom we accompany. This can mean doing interviews, investigating and recording the testimonies of those who have survived human rights abuses. By enabling survivors to tell their stories, and then taking their testimony to the international community, accompaniment volunteers give a voice to the voiceless and to empower survivors advocate for themselves.

Upon returning home volunteers will speak about their experiences in their own communities: in churches, on campus, to friends and supporters to get out the word about what is really happening in Haiti today. Volunteers will also participate in preparing reports which document the realities they have witnessed in Haiti. These reports will be distributed to human rights groups, the media, members of Congress, etc.

Becoming an accompaniment volunteer is an intense high demand commitment.Ideally volunteers work in teams of three or four - although some will work in pairs. While the danger to volunteers is limited (violent crimes directed against foreigners are rare and our foreign citizenship is somewhat of a deterrent to both official and nonofficial harassment) volunteers will rarely find themselves serving in a "cushy," relaxed atmosphere. This kind of intense experience is not for everyone. All applicants will be screened and placement decisions will be based on a number of factors including the specific needs in Haiti at the time.

We are particularly looking for volunteers with the following attributes:

  • Creole speakers
  • Experience in Haiti, and a good understanding of the current political situation in Haiti.
  • French speakers
  • People with experience doing human rights documentation.
  • People with experience doing non-violent accompaniment in other countries.

Room and board in Haiti are arranged by the project; participants are responsible for all travel and personal expenses.

Please visit our website at www.hometown.aol.com/haitiproject to read more.

For volunteer information and applications contact:

Leslie Fleming at lesliefleming@mindspring.com