A native of Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Sarah Fitzpatrick is the director of the U.S. branch of Haven, an Irish non-profit organization which aims to improve the lives of half a million citizens of Haiti.
When did you move to the U.S.?
“Having worked for Haven in the Dublin office for the last three years, I was offered the role of setting up Haven U.S. last summer. Once my visa was issued I moved straight over to New York and began work at the end of January 2012.”
Tell us about Haven US.
“Haven US is a non-profit 501(c) 3 organization which set up in the United States in 2011, after three years in operation in Ireland and Haiti, with the aim of assisting with the expansion of its program of activities and services in Haiti.
“Haven works solely in Haiti and aims to improve the lives of half a million vulnerable people by providing adequate shelter, water and sanitation solutions. Haven, in conjunction with the government of Haiti also aims to create jobs and training opportunities in the local communities.”
Has Haven received a good response in the U.S.?
“Yes. While Haven U.S. is a relatively new organization, it has managed to make significant impact.
“We held one of our first major fundraising events for 2012 at the end of May, a golf classic in upstate New York. We had over 100 people participate in the event and managed to raise over $40,000 for our projects in Haiti. We are very grateful for the generosity and support that we have received from the American people to date.”
What is progress like in Haiti at the moment?
“Since the 2010 earthquake, I really have noticed progress every time I visit the country especially within the last nine months. The earthquake was a massive blow to an already deeply impoverished nation. The U.S. public, who donated with exceptional generosity and with real humanity, have contributed hugely to assisting Haitian people affected by the earthquake.
“Haven has built over 2,200 homes and reached over 100,000 people through our emergency and recovery programs. We’ve distributed emergency supplies to over 80,000 people, provided 75,000 people with clean water and sanitation and employed over 800 Haitians.”
Tell us about your Build It Week November 2012
“In November 2011, 300 volunteers from Haven travelled to Haiti and built 54 permanent houses in the Santo community. The building site was located in Leogane, the area considered to be the epicenter of the January 2010 earthquake and where some of the worst damage resulted.
“This year, Haven will return to Leogane in partnership with Habitat for Humanity and the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project. Haven U.S. is looking to recruit 100 volunteers, both trade and non-trade, travelling from the U.S. to join Haven in Haiti for a life changing week.
“Our Build It Week will take place from Saturday, November 24 to Saturday, December 1. Volunteers will be required to raise $5,000 which will cover the cost of flights, accommodation, food and house building materials. The volunteer working and living conditions will be very basic.
“Build It Week will consist of a week of hard work with few creature comforts. However, the reward for the volunteers is exceptional.”
How can people get involved?
“On Monday June, 18, Haven U.S. will be holding an open information meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Navillus, 575 Fifth Avenue, New York. This meeting will give people the opportunity to learn more about Haven’s volunteer program.
“One can also log on to the Haven website on www.havenpartnership.com/havenus or by contacting Haven’s U.S. office at 917-561-8044.”
Interview by Molly Muldoon