Mizak


Where in Haiti is Mizak? Mizak is a mountainous, rural section of La Vallee consisting of 23 localities, situated in the Southeast department of Haiti, 80 km south of Port-au-Prince and 12 km west of Jacmel. With a peak altitude of nearly 1600', you may need to pack a sweater!

Who are the people of Mizak? The total population is just over 35,000. 70% are peasants living under the poverty level of less than $1 US per day. 63% of the population is under the age of 18.

What health care is available? Mizak has a dispensary for medicine, one nurse and many midwives, but no hospital or doctor. It's especially hard for women who are ready to deliver a child. They have to wait and suffer until a midwife arrives. Sometimes, the midwife can't provide the technology that the woman needs, which causes many children and mothers to die during the birth process.

What are the opportunities for education? Mizak has one secondary school. If the students cannot attend this school, they must walk 8 or 10 kilometers to find the next school, or travel to Port-au-Prince. For those who go to the city, most do not have a good result: they come back home with babies with no aid, or fall into juvenile delinquency.

For the first time, a professional school (diocesan) is going to open in Mizak, but many parents can't afford the entrance fee.

What infrastructure is present? Mizak is a tranquil area of virgin development. There is no bridge to cross the river. A rocky, dusty and narrow road winds upwards to Mizak. No jobs, hospital, electricity, or telecommunication. There is no plumbing or water filtration; they catch rain water for bathing and spring water for drinking.

What is the major economic activity? Agriculture is the main source of income. Citrus trees, particularly the Mandarin Orange, are the 'bank account' of many peasants.

About OARDART Coop OARD Organization of Agriculture and Art for Rural Development, envisions a vital and harmonious rural community, whose educational opportunities and robust economy attract low-income families to participate cooperatively in the economic and civic advancement of the whole, improving the well-being of the peasants and artisans and eliminating their need to migrate to the city or international community.

OARD fosters the formation of agricultural and art cooperatives that provide training and employment opportunities, with particular attention to opportunities for women with children. The MIZAK Project OARDArtCoop unveils an exciting new project in Mizak for the economic promotion and civic formation of women and families entitled 'Female Light Production for All Occasions' (FELIPRO).

FELIPRO's objectives: Improve the well-being of rural, low-income Haitian families Foster creative talents Educate others about the conditions of poverty in rural Haiti Create awareness of the artistic talent and rich culture of rural Haiti Instruct women to know their importance not only in the society but also in Creation Promote mutual love and respect for all human beings Educate the women to be aware of every word, thought, action and behavior, and the effect- positive or negative-for their salvation, families, or the organization

Many women have skills in hand stitching or are familiar with other handcrafts. FELIPRO has a vision to form groups in each locality within Mizak to instruct the women in the production of marketable art. The products will include various sizes and designs of embroidered shirts, napkins, dresses, and table cloths. They will also offer special occasion handcrafts for birthdays and holidays, made to order.

The facilitators will also educate the women to recognize their value in society and the important part they play in Creation!

Every day, women are coming from all 23 localities within Mizak to inscribe in the cooperative. Currently, the cooperative has over 300 women who are eager to participate. OARD is managed by a board of 9 persons who have experience in the domain of art, and who will each have an active role in the operation and administration of the Art Cooperative.

The cooperative will be open Monday-Friday, 8am-4pm and will initially employ 40 women.

How does this cooperative model work? This cooperative model has evolved out of a sharing of ideas and vision between HEARD and FELIPRO. Both organizations desire FELIPRO to develop a level of self-sustainability, independence, and future growth. To that end, the cooperative is organized in three stages.

Stage 1: OARDArtCoop will invest a percentage of their own funds towards the human and material capital required for the startup of the first FELIPRO Art and Training Center. HEARD will seek grants and individual donations to provide the balance of the capital required in the form of a low-interest loan. The loan will be applied towards costs directly associated to the operation of the cooperative for the first 12 months: rent, equipment, materials and salaries.

All merchandise produced at the Center is the property of FELIPRO. They are responsible for the marketing and sales of their products. Thus, they inherit both the potential for profit and growth, as well as the risk for loss.

FELIPRO members are 'owners,' not employees. As all members are benefiting from the loan, all will share in the repayment. Repayment will be taken as a small deduction from their paycheck and will be deposited in an OARDArtCoop account. This money may be withdrawn, in consultation with the HEARD board, for purposes of future expansion, or in the emergency event to cover a temporary cash shortfall for salaries or materials. The primary purpose of this account is growth.

Profits generated by FELIPRO will be managed by the members and board. Profits may be used to improve the equipment or conditions of the existing Center or shared in a member bonus system.

Stage 2 A major obstacle to commerce in this remote, mountainous region is transportation. The cooperative needs a vehicle capable of fording a river and negotiating the rocky, unpaved terrain, with ample cargo space for transporting goods to available markets. The most suitable choice is a Toyota Land Cruiser. They also need a more economical means of transportation for commuting between locations on the mountain.

Without Stage 2, FELIPRO has no hope of marketing their merchandise and controlling their own destiny. They would be dependent upon international aid to subsidize their industry, indefinitely.

FELIPRO has requested a one-time grant for vehicles and 12 months of related expenses (drivers, diesel and maintenance).

Stage 3 Start all over again! FELIPRO's vision is a minimum of 10 Art and Training Centers.