Days after the 2010 earthquakes in Haiti, the nonprofit enterprise Inveneo was inundated with calls to help reestablish a portion of the country’s infrastructure that most people overlooked – their connection to the internet for smaller non-governmental organizations that helped with the needs for necessities such as food, water, health care, and sanitation.
In the years following the disaster, the focus of relief has shifted from the immediate needs of a population decimated by nature to the desire for the nation to be self-sufficient; Inveneo looked towards partnering with a grassroots organization to help Haiti begin to reclaim their dignity. Enter the United Methodist Church (UMC).
The Church’s work in Haiti was essential to an organization like Inveneo that was new to the country. The trust of the community and knowledge of the needs of the people within the community made them an ideal partner.
The newfound partnership is working hard to bring technology to a country that has been lacking in innovation for decades. In September, Inveneo began leading training sessions for United Methodists across the United States that have ongoing mission projects in Haiti to better equip them with the knowledge to build community centers that feature up-to-date computer technology.
“Computer Centers in Haiti could be a tremendous thing,” said Pam Carter, a longtime United Methodist volunteer in Haiti, in an interview with United Methodist Communications. “We underestimate people’s awareness of things outside of their countries. People in Haiti know about computers, and they know that they don’t have them.”
The movement towards helping develop a technological infrastructure is one to move the tiny country towards a sustainable economic development and to empower a country whose development has long been stifled by poverty and the legacies of imperialism and slavery. The California-Nevada Annual Conference of the UMC has plans to build computer centers in four schools in the near future, as well as 100 computer centers total in the long-term.
The conference is working to build a sustainable program for feeding children based on the use of microenterprises – a move that would benefit entire communities and generate income to cover operating costs.
Instead of simply feeding people in need, Inveneo and the United Methodist Church are hoping to empower those who need it, and the groundwork is being laid for a new and self-sufficient Haiti to emerge in the coming years.