Why Haiti & the Dominican Republic?
The Founding members of Rayjon, Ray Wyrzykowski and John Barnfield, first visited Haiti in 1985. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and the needs were evident. As subsequent trips to Haiti took place, relationships were formed between communities who needed and wanted help from Rayjon and people who supported Rayjon and who wanted to help. The government of Canada has identified Haiti as a “country of priority.” It is Rayjon’s goal to support efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Haiti.
Political unrest and natural disasters from time to time prevented trips to Haiti and made support difficult. In 2010, Rayjon began to also support a community development project in Consuelo, Dominican Republic, which welcomed Rayjon Awareness trips. The beneficiary neighbourhood in Consuelo (Barrio 41) is largely comprised of Haitian migrants.
Where does the money go? How much of my donation goes to Haiti?
All receipted donations are used directly to support our development projects in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. These projects are managed locally, with oversight from Rayjon in Canada. Rayjon is primarily a volunteer organization, with exceptionally low overhead. The generosity of our community partners has meant that we do not maintain the cost of renting an office. Our administrative expenses are typically covered by proceeds of our fundraising events, meaning that the vast majority of donations are directed in their entirety right to projects. In 2016-2017 our overhead was
As a registered charity, Rayjon is required to file its audited financial statements with the federal government and these statements, along with the financial statements of other registered charities, are available at a Canadian Government website. You can also view our financial statements here.
How do we know the money goes to Haiti and how it is used?
- Rayjon representatives directly oversee the work done in Haiti and the Dominican Republic by travelling to the project areas on a regular basis each year to monitor the results for beneficiaries on an ongoing basis, review financial statements, receipts and budgets as well as to engage in ongoing planning and evaluation with our partners.
- Project Engagement trips provide an opportunity for Rayjon volunteers and other interested people to see first-hand how the money is spent and to meet staff and beneficiaries.
- Rayjon’s philosophy is to maintain relationships with the people and the communities we have supported in the past, so we are assured that our donated dollars are accomplishing what is intended.
- All project finances are reviewed and audited by a team in Canada, and by qualified individuals in Haiti. Numerous checks and balances are utilized to prevent misappropriation of funds and to ensure transparency and accountability.
Why is Rayjon not receiving funding from CIDA? Did Rayjon do something wrong?
In 2012-2013, for the first time in about 20 years, Rayjon did not receive any money from the Canadian government, through the former Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Significant policy changes and cutbacks at CIDA impacted Rayjon and other organizations that engage in development activities in Haiti. After the earthquake in 2010 Rayjon successfully partnered with Habitat for Humanity and obtained funding for a short term earthquake recovery project in Simon Pele, Port au Prince, but from 2010-2016 there have been fewer opportunities for Rayjon or other such organizations to apply for funding for new or ongoing projects.
Rayjon continues to search for all positive partnership opportunities, including funding through the new Global Affairs Canada.
Why do we volunteer and support Haiti when there are many people in our own community that need help?
Most Rayjon supporters are also involved in community organizations and charitable causes that benefit the local community. We understand and regret that there are needs that exist in Canada and in our own community. However, Rayjon has recognized that the people we partner with in Haiti and Dominican Republic face extreme and widespread poverty to a degree that is not experienced in Canada. Additionally, there is no government or institutional support available to help. We have seen that every dollar donated can go far to make a difference in the lives of many people.
Are the trips to Haiti and Dominican Republic paid for by Rayjon or do trip participants pay their own way?
Some Rayjon supervisor’s trips are subsidized when they are monitoring how our partners are managing our projects. All other Rayjon trip participants pay for the total cost of their trip.
Does Rayjon ship donated items to Haiti?
Rayjon has sent some merchandise needed by our partners to Haiti or Dominican Republic in shipping containers, which has become very expensive and unreliable. Our trip participants have also taken some goods in their luggage when requested and when necessary. However, we believe it is much more effective to send funds to our partners, which will support the local economy and enable those we help in Haiti and Dominican Republic to buy what is available in their own country. If you have an item you are interested in donating, please contact us to inquire if it needed and if it fits our requirements.
Do organizations like Rayjon make a difference in developing countries like Haiti?
Yes! We have seen great improvements in the areas where Rayjon has invested our donors’ funds. We have been able to witness firsthand how neighbourhoods have been transformed as a result of partnerships between Rayjon, beneficiary communities, and other partners.
In St. Marc, we have seen a team of community leaders assume responsibility for the management of their community of schools, medical clinics and women’s microcredit program. The holistic approach of the Centre for Education of Women and Children in Cap Haitian has not only helped restore malnourished children back to health, but has also provided parents with tools and training to earn an income and support themselves and their children. Visit the Impact page for more details!
What are the Haitian government and other governments doing to help?
Since 2012 the Haitian government has repeated promises to strengthening higher education and training, increase access to elementary and secondary education, focus on the development of civic action and strengthen civil society, and ensure gender equality… all goals that Rayjon supports. In 2017 a new president was elected, after a tumultous and highly contested election. Progress is very gradual, and the new administration faces many challenges, including widespread poverty, the impact of natural disasters, heavy deforestation, and extremely poor infrastructure.
While it is unclear at this point how the goals the new government will be accomplished, or to what degree they will affect the lives of poor citizens in Haiti, we believe that Rayjon’s priorities and activities are well aligned with stated national priorities, including investment in economic development that will allow more Haitians to find work in their own country. Wherever possible, Rayjon works in collaboration with Haitian government, including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Department of Social Affairs.
Canada has committed to protect and promote the human dignity of the poorest and most vulnerable. Rayjon projects reflect Canada’s commitment to a feminist approach to international assistance; empowerment of women and positive shifts in gender equality are central to project activities.
Project activities and outcomes also align with priorities identified in Canada’s long-term engagement strategy in Haiti (2015-2020); fostering economic growth, investing in civil society and supporting the welfare of Haitian women and girls (through increasing access to education, enabling completion of higher grade levels, and encouraging advocacy in human rights).
Many other nations have committed to the eradication of poverty and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Rayjon projects address the following SDGs:
- #1 No Poverty
- #3 Good Health and Well-Being
- #4 Quality Education
- #5 Gender Equality
- #8 Decent Work and Economic Growth
- #17 Partnerships for the Goals: The project will support partnerships between civil society groups, including Women’s Federations, and the Haitian government at local, regional and national levels to most effectively advocate for social change.