Josette Perard

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February 26: Josette Perard

Josette Perard; Director of the Lambi Fund of Haiti
Born in: Haiti
Career: Over 30 years experience in social change work
How long she's been with the Lambi Fund: 16 years

Born and raised in Haiti, Ms. Perard has over 30 years experience in social change work. She has been active with women's groups and has hosted many delegations of U.S. solidarity activists visiting Haiti. As a founding staff member, she has directed Lambi Fund of Haiti's program for over 16 years, supporting grassroots organizations working for economic justice, democracy and sustainable development. She is one of the few women to head a successful NGO in Haiti. In 2006, she won the 21 Leaders for the 21st Century Award and was a founding member of Women's Earth Alliance at its charter meeting in Mexico City.

Her work with Lambi Fund of Haiti has accompanied over 100 peasant organizations on grassroots projects that have impacted over 1.2 million Haitians. In addition, she has motivated grassroots organizations to commit to planting tens of thousands of trees. Lambi Fund has organized peasant organizations on reforestation, water quality and sustainable agriculture projects that are run by and for the peasants. "Sustainable agricultural projects, ox plows and grain mills help increase food security and income for peasant families. Many of these projects benefit women, who bear more of the burden in the agricultural economy." The conservation of Haiti's waning natural resources is central to all Lambi Fund projects. Community cisterns and irrigation systems help communities secure safe and efficient water supplies while community reforestation projects curb deforestation — the most rapid in the Western Hemisphere. Every year, Josette Perard organizes two conferences for grassroots women in Haiti, training them to be environmental activists. Last year she organized a conference called "Women, Organizing and the Environment" where she taught Haitian grassroots women to use alternative energy sources such as solar ovens. This year she organized a Haitian women's conference called "Families, Health and the Environment" and discussed water quality, hygiene and how it relates to family health.

She was most recently in the process of negotiating with Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize winner of the Greenbelt Movement in Kenya, to bring recognition and awareness to the critical deforestation in Haiti. "More women need to be trained to be reforestation activists. Recognition, funding and awareness will help support that movement." She is currently in Haiti focused on rebuilding and strengthening efforts. "We are living a very difficult time in Haiti. The January 12 earthquake has destroyed many lives and left others, especially women, in the streets, in refugee camps, in Port-au-Prince, Leogane, Petit Goave, Grand Goave, Jacmel, with no food, no water and exposed to outlaws violence. The humanitarian help has reached only a fraction of them. The Fanm Vanyan, extraordinary women of Haiti, are fighting very hard and the best they can to survive."