Research on Cash-for-work and women
Replies: 3 - Last Post: Jun 25, 2012 9:41 AM Last Post By: parryander
Jun 12, 2012 4:07 AM
Research on Cash-for-work and womenHi everyone,
First of all, thanks to everyone who's been posting positive comments about the country and the ability to travel round it reasonably easily. I'm not expecting Swiss precision bus scheduling or Vancouvern cleanliness so I've been reassured that it's not all as terrible and dark as the fear-mongers would have us believe. That said, I take on board all reasonable safety precautions.
I've been reading lots of the comments written so far but didn't manage to get through all of them so apologises if any of my questions have already been asked.
I'm a post graduate researcher heading out to Haiti between June 22 and July 12 to conduct research on the issue of women's economic empowerment in disaster situations and the potential for schemes such as cash-for-work to lessen women's recourse to partake in transactional sex and prostitution, looking particularly on female-headed households. (I hope that this makes me a little better than just a disaster tourist but take on board the fact that I understand how it must feel to have countless foreigners come over, poke around, conduct a few surveys, have a rather sheltered experience and then leave again.)
I've seen that a few NGO workers have been posting on here along with some resident experts and just wondered whether anyone had any useful contacts with either women's organisations, any of the main providers of cash-for-work schemes (USAID, UNDP etc) or any government contacts within relevant ministries in PAP. I know it's a bit cheeky but so far, I've been having limited progress going through the official channels and the only research related contacts I have are in Jacmel.
On the subject of Jacmel I've been reading with interest the various posts of travel between PAP and Jacmel as I've been told conflicting things by my sources. I know NGO workers aren't for insurance purposes allowed to use them, but others have told me it's perfectly fine. Whilst I'm really keen to go- and take the option a la haitienne I'm a little worried that my appearance as a young looking 25 year old white female, and my lack of creyole and unfamiliarity with the process might make it a bit daunting travelling on my own. I've taken pick up truck and local transport a lot in East Africa and from the posts I've been reading it sounds like a similar experience: nice and definitely a good option if you're in a group/ know your way around and have been there for a while, but perhaps not so advisable if you're fresh in and unfamiliar with the system. That said, in all likelihood I might only need to take the local transport for the return leg, by which time I hope to be a bit more settled/ familiarised.
On the subject of translators I've been on the look out for a female creyole-english translator for my research and like others have been quoted quite high prices. If anyone knows of a good, reliable female translator who's reasonably priced then I would be interested to hear about it.
In terms of clothing, what would you say would be most appropriate/ most likely to fit in with the locals. I know I can't change my appearance that much but in Tanzania I would say that wearing t-shirts and wrap around material (kangas) as skirts with flip-flops and taking local buses helped to earn a little respect, as did knowing the odd phrase. Would I be right in guessing that similar attire/ behaviour would also help in Haiti?
In PAP I will be staying near the Un MINUSTAH Logistics Yard by the UN Log Base. How easy is it to get to Petionville from here and how would you recommend doing so?
And finally, I'm really interested- research aside- to get a good feel for the place and be a bit of a tourist. Which bars, restaurants, places of interest/ people should I definitely not leave PAP/Jacmel/Haiti without having seen?
Apologises for the barrage of questions, but as you might image heading to a country by yourself for the first time to conduct research with only a few contacts is a bit daunting. I may just end up alone for 3 weeks! (if anyone is in Haiti for these three weeks and is interested in meeting up, just let me know. I'm an average (table) pool player, reasonable conversationalist and not half as ridiculous as this post might make me seem!)
Thank you in advance, I look forward to reading all your comments and suggestions
Jun 12, 2012 8:22 AM
1Thank you for your thoughtful posting. We all love Haiti! Although I can't answer all your questions and I am not female, I just want to say that I have used public transportation in Haiti often. In Port Au Prince and elsewhere. The main problem I have had was that it can be very overcrowded and hot. Sweat pours off me yet Haitians usually manage to look so fresh and clean! I have found the other passengers to be very polite and helpful, even offering me their seats (which made me feel very old!). The bus conductor on the Petionville to downtown Port Au Prince route even told some poor old woman to get up and give me her seat and I had to convince them both that I didn't need it, thank you. It was because I was a visitor.
If you decide to use tap taps, plan alot of time. On Delmas, I often had to let quite a few pass before I found one I could wedge my way on. Needless to say, many locals don't have cars and the public transport system is overburdened. The roads are often backed up with traffic from the cars that do exist so I guess it isn't a great idea to add to the number of cars either. .
I hope you have a wonderful visit. I wouldn't be very concerned about how to dress. I don't dress for muggers or rapists as some travelers do. I mean, I wouldn't change what I normally feel comfortable in. If I like jewelry, I wear it. Have worn it in Haiti. There is no way in hell a white person in Haiti will convince a mugger you are poor so walking around in a trash bag won't help.You will never blend in. Someone once suggested not to wear bright colors even ...PLEASE. Many Haitians wear bright colors and love bright cheerful houses. I am myself wherever I go. I can respect the local culture without stopping being myself. You probably know that the "dirty" look isn't so popular in poor countries. People tend to wear the best they can afford. Enjoy!
Jun 20, 2012 12:18 PM
2I am not optimistic about your trip. Virtually everyone who directed serious cash-for-work programs after the earthquake are no longer in Haiti. Many CFW programs were not very serious to begin with, particularly anything done by the UNDP, Yele, or the government. I am not sure where you expect to get data these days - even organizations that kept diligent records regarding their programs were not even vaguely focused on your specific issue. Asking people this long after the fact about something they never really considered in the first place is going to get a lot of speculative answers and probably no hard data whatsoever. Interviews with community members will probably get you whatever answers they think you want to hear. I just don't know how you are going to come away from Haiti with useful information on the subject.
As for your choice of venue, if you are trying to conduct a comprehensive study, you need to limit your time in Jacmel and visit other places where CFW was ongoing (and which were generally hit a lot harder than Jacmel). Try Leogane, Gressier, Carrefour, Delmas, Petit Goave, Grand Goave, Ravine Pintade, etc. (But remember to keep in mind that virtually everyone who ran CFW programs in those areas is now gone, and the credibility and records of many mayors and officials in those areas is extremely shaky at best.) In my opinion, Jacmel always tends to be overserved by the NGO community due to its beaches and hotel infrastructure, so people prefer to work there even if the needs are much greater elsewhere.
Haiti is unreasonably expensive in many regards, and I am not surprised that translators are asking for a lot of money. If a Haitian has been paid one rate in the past for a service, many will hold out for that past amount to the point where they would prefer to not work rather than accept a lower wage. Your best hope is probably to ask around when you get there, but do not just rely on one person to find you candidates, as they will probably just present family members to you rather than the most qualified people they know.
You can easily fly from PAP to Jacmel and back. Bus and tap-tap transportation works, but is extremely slow and you face the risk of time-consuming breakdowns.
The UN Log Base is pretty far from Petionville. Without your own car, movement between those places will be extremely complicated and time-consuming.
Jun 25, 2012 9:41 AM
3I agree w/ many of the above comments. Your research maybe would have been easier when the ONGs were there. There are several groups that are still working in Haiti that focus on women's issues, of course, and women-headed households are somewhat the rule in Haiti. 2-3 weeks is not enough time to gain access to the information, but you may be able to scratch the surface a bit. Here are a few groups - Fonkoze - around many years, Nap Vanse - new since the quake, and you may want to contact http://www.otherworldsarepossible.org/home-page - they are a social justice org, with a political agenda, but they do a lot of research work themselves and may have other sources. One organization that had CFW - American Refuge Committee, as I recall, but they are gone.
Translators - you get what you pay for. If this research is important, you should be willing to pay for someone who is a professional, rather that someone who has mild proficiency and will not be fully functional. It's one thing to have someone help you in the market or get on a taptap, another when you are trying to discuss very specific and sensitive issues. Haitian Creole is not a specific language and requires a great deal of finessing sometimes to extract meanings that include the shades of culture that are so ingrained. Just my opinion.
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