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Blog

The Jasper House Haiti blog is designed to share stories, updates and testimonies that raise awareness, create dialogue and bring enlightenment to those seeking to become more involved in the advocacy and abolition of injustice. 

 

Demen se pou fanm.

Maria Atkinson

This year, our theme has been "demen se pou fanm," tomorrow is for women, or the future is female. Our focus has been to uplift and encourage the women in our program by helping them understand and accept their strength and beauty and help them realize their potential.

Today is International Women's Day, one of my favorite days of the year. The significance of this day is absolutely beautiful as we honor and recognize women around the world who are working to make a difference and stand up against gender inequality, gender based violence, and promote education and equality for women and girls worldwide.

Jasper House Haiti would not be who and what we are today without the incredible women on our staff. These individuals have made countless sacrifices and devoted their lives over the past two years to see women freed from trauma and oppression. They set amazing examples and lead with love, grace and diligence. 

On this International Women's Day, we want to take a minute to honor a few of these outstanding women who make the work of Jasper House Haiti possible. 

 

Joslyene

Joslyene is from the mountainous village of Cap Rouge, which finds itself high above Jacmel, overlooking the turquoise Caribbean Sea. 

Joslyene only made it through the second grade before being taken out of school to help with family needs and tend to the gardens and farms. She never imagined she would one day be working for an actual organization. Today, Joslyene is our head cook and provides guidance and wisdom for our gardening projects. Her laugh is contagious and she always keeps us smiling.

Isannette

Manmi Isannette has a smiled so radiant, it lights up the room. She exudes love and light everywhere she goes. She has two grown daughters, but never married. She dealt with negative relationships and truly suffered until joining her brother and sister in law in Jacmel.

Today she is our lead house mother and does an extraordinary job of leading and guiding in developing deeper relationships with Christ.

 

Nadine

Manmi Nadine stayed in an abusive relationship for nearly twenty-years. Having to deal with emotional and physical abuse, while simultaneously raising four children. Finally, after years of misery, her two oldest sons helped her to leave Port-au-Prince, and start a new life in Jacmel. 

Manmi Nadine is in charge of all of our house functions from cooking to cleaning, to keeping our women in line. She is a wonderful example of a fanm djanm (strong woman) who truly embodies what it means to overcome. 

Darline

Darline is the potomitan of Jasper House Haiti, the cornerstone, if you will. She is the foundation of our work, and the force that continues to champion us forward.

Darline grew up without a father, raised by a mother who was never had the opportunity to be educated. She sold charcoal and worked in the market to Darline the chances she never had. Darline went on to finish school, and become the first woman in her family to graduate at the university level. 

She passionately pursued education as her career, all the while holding on to her dream that she would one day educate and change women's lives. 

Today, Darline is the assistant director of Jasper House. She says that in her wildest dreams, she never imagined this great dream of hers to lead and educate women would truly come true! 

I had a dream for the women of my country to have access to education. My dream was to teach them they they can renew and change their lives. Jasper House now gives me that opportunity and has made this dream a reality.
— Darline

These women are just a few of the dynamic, and remarkable people who are truly rising and empowering young women out of poverty, exploitation and abuse. Because of them, there is a real chance now that slowly, the mentalities toward women and sexual abuse can begin to shift and women can rise up as leaders. It is because of them that now, there's hope that tomorrow may truly be for women.


Written by: Maria Atkinson - Founder/CEO Jasper House Haiti

You can read more of her writings on her blog: Going Forth

Eliminating violence.

Maria Atkinson

Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation, public health pandemic and serious obstacle to sustainable development. It imposes large-scale costs on families, communities and economies. The world cannot afford to pay this price.” — Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General

November 25th isn't just a time for turkey, thankfulness and Black Friday shopping. Since 1993, the United Nations declared November 25th and the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women to recognize the urgent need for the universal application to women of the rights and principles with regard to equality, security, liberty, integrity and dignity of all human beings.

Like many countries across the world, Haiti suffers from an epidemic of domestic and sexual violence. In 2006, it was roughly estimated that nearly 35,000 women in the country's capital of Port au Prince alone were raped annually. 

Jasper House Haiti deals with horrific stories of rape, abuse and sexual violence on a nearly daily basis. Stories of young girls whose history of being raped and molested began at ages as young as three and four by cousins, brothers, fathers, uncles and the like. Stories of fifteen-year-olds being coerced into sexual relationships with men thrice their senior in order to eat and attend school. It is difficult for us to wrap our heads around the amount of violence the precious women in our program have endured in their lifetime. 

I am twenty one years old, and have a two year old son. When I was nineteen I became pregnant, but when my boyfriend discovered I was having a baby, he kicked me out and wanted nothing to do with me. My parents disowned me, I was totally alone. There is a man who sometimes helps me by giving me a little bit of money to feed myself and my son, but he beats me until there were cuts and bruises all over my body, and forces me to sleep with him even when I cry and say no...
— Felancia*, a young women in the Jasper House Haiti Education Program

This is just one excerpt of the countless stories of unjust treatment and abuse of the women who now find themselves in the care and protection of Jasper House Haiti. But this is the brutal reality for thousands of women in Haiti alone.

Women make up 98% of the victims of sexual exploitation worldwide. 

With these staggering facts, the hope of reversing these truths seem impossible. Why has this day received international recognition? The UN has outlined some important details:

  • Violence against women is a human rights violation.
  • Violence against women is a consequence of discrimination against women, in law and also in practice, and of persisting inequalities between men and women.
  • Violence against women impacts on, and impedes, progress in many areas, including poverty eradication, combating HIV/AIDS, and peace and security.
  • Violence against women and girls is not inevitable. Prevention is possible and essential.
  • Violence against women continues to be a global pandemic.

The underlying causes of this very complex and malevolent phenomenon is the result of the melange of harmful traditions, customs and cultural norms, gender stereotypes and inequality and patriarchal political, economic and social structures that manifest themselves in this most egregious violation of women’s human rights. This in turn creates and perpetuates an environment of impunity for perpetrators. Men typically indulge in violence as an exercise of their inherent power, entitlement, superiority and a sense of ownership of women by them. This is the mirror image of the sense of vulnerability, fear, shame, helplessness, resignation and dependence felt by women and girls who are victims and survivors of such violence.

So, in revelation of the overwhelming facts, what can be done about the menacing horror of violence against women that abounds worldwide?

From 25 November through 10 December the UN has issued, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence aim to raise public awareness and mobilizing people everywhere to bring about change.

Jasper House Haiti is fully committed to continuing our charge to restore, educate and empower women out of violence, exploitation and abuse. In addition to educating our women on the truths about the abuse many of them have experienced, we plan to also take the following actions over the next month:

- Visit local brothels to introduce the women who find themselves trapped in a lifestyle of prostitution and perpetual exploitation, to the realities of their situations and the hope they now have to start a new life through the work of Jasper House Haiti.

- Partner with other local Haitian based human rights organizations to create a stronger coalition for the protection and prevention of gender-based violence. 

- Organize community meetings with the husbands, boyfriends and male head of households of the women in our program to educate them on gender-based violence and healthier forms of conflict resolution, and to establish a sense of accountability for the treatment of women.

- Work to develop a task force of local leaders and activist committed to identifying women trapped in abusive and exploitive situations, with solid contingency plans on how to extract women from said situations. 

We believe that we can see a major decline, if not a near elimination of violence against women in our lifetime. However, it takes the support and unity of likeminded individuals who are willing to use their voice and power to stand up against such iniquitous acts.

We need your help. By raising, awareness and support of Jasper House Haiti, as well as becoming a finical partner, you are joining the fight to see justice served on behalf of women in Haiti who have experienced vehement oppression and cruelty. 

Will you join us today?


MelissaGreenPhotography1-63.jpg

Written by: Maria Atkinson - Founder/CEO Jasper House Haiti 

Read more from her at her blog: Going Forth

After the storm.

Maria Atkinson

The beginning of October is a joyous time for many. The leaves begin to change color, crisp air slowly sets in, and the holidays are just around the corner. However, the start of this October brought anything but joy for a large majority of Haiti.

On October 4th, a category four hurricane swept across Haiti. The southern coastal towns of Dame Marie, Jeremie, Port Salut and Les Cayes find themselves left in shambles and disarray. Hundreds have been left homeless and destitute without much hope for recovery. 

Now, as cholera sets in due to the contamination of most drinkable water sources, even more lives are trapped in imminent danger. 

Incredible, local and grassroots organizations have come together to provide hope, resources and relief to Haitians facing utter despair. They are already mobilizing and reacting to create a way out of this real life nightmare. 

Jasper House Haiti is proud to know and trust a few of the organizations working to bring light and restoration for those experiencing real devastation. We are blessed that our town of Jacmel was not hit as treacherously as the southern coast, but we do recognize the severity of the situation. This is why we stand by the following organizations in their relief efforts:

Danita's Children

Little Footprints Big Steps

Water Mission

Singing Rooster

Recently, we made a plea for donations to assemble relief kits for the women in our program who did experience some damage to their homes, as well as flooding and other difficulties. 

Thanks to some incredible donors, thirty-two kits were made for our women filled with items such as rice, beans, oil, soap, shampoo, sanitary pads, combs and other toiletries. 

While we fully acknowledge the great need for immediate, disaster relief, this is not the long term solution. 

Long after news headlines stop reporting about the death toll, the damage and destruction left behind by Hurricane Matthew, Jasper House Haiti will still be here. We will still be fighting to restore, educate, and empower women out of prostitution, sexual abuse and exploitation, and extreme poverty. 

Currently, there are over thirty women in enrolled in our education programs, including the six who are living in our residential facilities. For some of these women, it is their very first time to attend school, and begin to learn to read and write. In addition to receiving an education, they have also been given the opportunity to take one of our three vocational training courses of either sewing, culinary arts, or art/jewelry making.

They are receiving a fresh start, and a true chance at a better life. 

The overwhelming needs of a life encompassed by extreme poverty do not go away with a bag of rice, a bottle of water or a pair of shoes. 

They slowly begin to decrease when individuals begin to be empowered to have a real opportunities that provide them the chance to find employment, financial security and sustainable means to develop a more stable life. 

Jasper House Haiti is forever committed to continue our mission to turn oppression, misfortune and tragedy into opportunities for empowerment and renewal for young women in Haiti.

But, we cannot do that without you. 

While a one-time gift to hurricane relief efforts is needed, choosing to make a long-term partnership with a program such as ours that is devoted to seeing lives renewed and transformed, turns your generosity into a tool that has the ability to make an impact for generations to come.

Jasper House Haiti is in dire need of an increase in monthly support. These commitments of $25, $50, $100, $250, or even more, given us the ability to pay our incredible staff, take care of our operational expenses, provide hot, daily meals, medical care, therapy and so much more to the women in our programs. 

We need you in our corner.

Will you consider becoming a monthly partner today to begin to change the life of a woman in need? 


Written by: Maria Atkinson - Founder/CEO, Jasper House Haiti

Read more of her writings on her blog, Going Forth.