The People of Belle-Rivière Location
Belle-Riviere lies in the mountains of Southern Haiti about 75 miles from Port-au-Prince, a four-hour drive which concludes with six miles of unpaved road which prevent access to any vehicle without four-wheel drive. Although the center includes two churches, three schools, and a clinic, the population (over 6,000) is too scattered and too unstructured to qualify as a "village." This agrarian community depends largely on produce, corn, millet, sisal, and charcoal. While country living offers some refreshing relief from the congestion of population centers, it comes at the cost of access to economic opportunity and a variety of living essentials. The lifestyle of this community stands in stark contrast to a majority of the world population.
Oganizasyon Fanm Bel-Rivye (OFAB): The Organization of the Women of Belle-Riviere includes more than fifty women who discuss women's issues and priorities with emphasis on family and community. This group founded the micro-lending fund, began adult literacy classes which led to Cooking & Sewing classes, which led to youth activities, which led to the soccer program. They are the epitome of STRONG WOMEN.
Community Leaders: Despite any lack of political structure, this community is as motivated as any to take advantage of opportunity and guide its own future. No one knows better what is good for the community than the people who live there. Community leaders coordinate with others, clarify priorities, and organize long-range plans. Together, we match available resources with likely solutions.
Loubert: Loubert Lexin, President of TPC, a former National School principal, now coordinates programs on Department level for the Ministry of Education in MIrigoâne. Originally a French teacher, Loubert speaks fluent English and Spanish, and possesses a rare zeal for community development as well as the skill to provide detailed financial reports. His wife, Marlhéne, is no less motivated. Together they have facilitated countless initiatives including the OFAB women's group, their loan fund, youth development, computer classes, and many other community projects. Above w/ sister, Bertha.
Laraque: Equally important to this working relationship is Laraque St. Louis, a university educated former school teacher from the city of Jacmel who now works exclusively as an interpreter. Although strictly speaking, an "outsider," over the years, Laraque has become a trusted member of the community.