viernes, 14 de agosto de 2009

How We Began:
The idea for Zotpanou was created by a group of students studying at Santiago�s Pontificia Universidad Cat�lica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) during the spring of 2007. The main students behind the organization are: Davidson Toussaint, a Haitian student studying business administration at the PUCMM; Aziza Walker, an American student majoring in Cinematography at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL; Arianna Morales, an American majoring in International Studies at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY; and Patrice M�m�, a Haitian student of information and professor of primary school in Cap Haitian, Haiti. The American students were taking classes in Santiago through the CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange) liberal arts and language study abroad program and there met up with Davidson, already taking courses at the university. That same semester they traveled together to Cap Haitian and Port au Prince, Haiti and encountered other organizations such as Carmelle Cothiere�s OMAED dedicated to providing education and food to children living in the streets. During this semester and especially after these trips the idea for the organization began to take shape to bring them where they are today.


Zotpanou International Organization is a coalition of Haitian and American students working together to better the situation for Haitian children living in the street and low-wage Haitian workers in Dominican Republic. In this country, due to the high rate of immigration of Haitians approximately 10% of the population today is made up of these immigrants. However, once in the Dominican Republic many of them find their lives much harder than they had expected, and end up with low-paying and/or physically dangerous jobs with little access to health care or education for their children. In fact, many Haitian children end up in the street without family, shelter nor the ability to attend school. To combat this often overlooked reality, Zotpanou is working to organize various projects to aid the situation for Haitians in the Dominican Republic that will revolve around issues of legality, access to health care and education, and defining their rights in the country. The organization additionally hopes to raise the consciousness of people in the Dominican Republic and the United States about the situation of these Haitians in Dominican Republic in order to gain more support in their work.