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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. 

 

Transformation and hope.

Maria Atkinson

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Just a little under a year ago, Denise* found herself in a very tragic situation. 

34 years old, three children, and no ability to provide for them in a consistent way. 

She had begun attending the Jasper House Haiti education center in hopes that it would provide her the means to be able to give her children a better life. 

The home she lived in with her family was a one room, tin shack down by the base of the river in Jacmel, where trash and feces fester and accumulate. An extremely dangerous environment for any human, particular for children to be exposed to, alas this is where Denise found herself and her young family. 

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Earlier this year, Denise came to our assistant director distraught and in tears. The father of her youngest child had walked out on them, leaving her with no assistance for the children's needs.

Her worst fear had become a reality. 

She asked Darline if she knew of any local orphanages who would be able to take her children while she went to find work in the Dominican Republic. This was startling news to Darline - not only is it the mission of Jasper House Haiti to keep mothers with their children, but a young Haitian woman, with no legal paperwork, going to the Dominican Republic means only one thing - prostitution. 

We immediately became determined to find an alternate solution for sweet Denise and her children. 

Through our Change a Life sponsorship program, we were able to locate some incredible sponsors who helped to find Denise and new, safe home for she and her children, and give her the ability to sell items in the market on weekends.

She is still able to attend the Jasper House Haiti education center, and will graduate the sewing program this December with hopes to start her own sewing business. 

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With support from people just like you, lives like Denise and her children are being dramatically transformed. No longer are they plagued with the looming fear of having to relinquish their children to orphanages or selling their bodies in order to eat. They are able to live and thrive and pursue their dreams. Hope becomes a reality rather than a far off dream. 

With your help, we can continue to uplift and support women just like Denise. 

For $120 a month you can support and woman and her child. 

For $80 a month you can support one woman living in our residential home. 

For $50 a month you can help one woman attend our education centre tuition free.

For $25 a month you can help to provide a hot meal and school supplies for a woman in our program.

We truly cannot do this without you, will you choose to help a woman like Denise today? 

*Names have been changed for the privacy and protection of our women.

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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?


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

Read more from her at her blog: Going Forth