Update from Haitian Global Associate
KOFAVIV – Malya Villard-Appolon Partnership Update
Although still trying to gain political asylum during her extended stay in Philadelphia, PA, our Global Associate Malya Villard remains active with the day-to-day operations of the organization (KOFAVIV) she co-founded to combat gender-based violence in Haiti.
Providing her leadership and advice via a remote office out her temporary home in Pennsylvania, Malya has adapted to the challenges of keeping in touch with her colleagues by using Skype conversations and other technology. It is through those means that Malya was able to update us recently on how she and her colleague Earamithe continue the mission of KOFAVIV.
Training is the Key
In her report to us, Malya made it clear that the ongoing identification and training of those men within the community who can be most trusted and depended on to provide a safe environment to the women in the camps, is one of the most important steps to their program being successful. Malya and her team on the ground in Haiti seek out the male agents who can be best trained to share the information and workings of the project with both men and women living in their neighborhoods and communities. They in effect are relied upon to become members of a ‘teaching tree’ and the most recent numbers indicated by Malya show that over 2,000 persons have been reached and have a first-hand familiarity with the practices of the project – in short, they know how to prevent violence against women and support victims through their recovery.
[quote]The reduction of the violence in whatever forms must be effective to have a society that may benefit of all its rights and dignity. More and more, the KOFAVIV mission is being enacted by both men and women who are the best tools to reeducate the society.”[/quote]
– KOFAVIV co-founder Malya Villard-Apollon
Much can be done with little resources – but much more needs to be done …
Throughout their report, Malya and Earamithe could not understate the importance of having the support and awareness of our own network at the Goldin Institute, in continuing to provide the security of the KOFAVIV offices and the security of women made most vulnerable to all forms of violence. There has been great progress made in reducing the violence and sexual assaults to women and young girls thanks to the project that these two women began in the aftermath of the 2010 Earthquake. However, a recent visit of a local camp (Delmas 33, or the Siló Camp, which is located north of Gerald Bataille Street) demonstrates the need for more work to be done and more support needed.
During their visit, it was discovered tható Camp was not drawing electricity from available sources. The local coordinator of the camp, appointed by the state, decided that it was best to remove the camp from the electrical grid to avoid potential electrical fires. While this in itself may be a needed preventative measure that could save lives by eliminating fires, the most immediate impact is that the camp is blanketed in complete darkness after sunset. As we have learned from Malya and KOFAVIV, the highest number of attacks happen in areas that are underlit. It makes sense, the less light, the more emboldened an attacker will be to commit a crime (it’s this simple reality that made the flashlight provided at the camps, one of the first and most effective tools against sexual attackers). Malya and her team have purposed a street-light installation that could be done safely and at minimal cost, but providing the safety against violence that far surpasses the return on the investment.
[quote]We also visited a village called Grace Village, where there are 4 areas and each zone has a name; Peace, Love, Hope, Union … it is a village well organized but also does not have any lighting.”[/quote]
– From Malya’s report
Malya’s latest update also provided specific numbers showing the effectiveness of the KOFAVIV call center providing immediate help to victims. She also shared the agent scheduling that will continue to ensure there will be adequete coverage for those agents on-the-ground doing the very real work of protecting women against violence.
Find out how you can keep the mission of KOFAVIV going and click here to become more involved.