World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) last July launched a program in Haiti with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development. The Haiti Integrated Financing for Value Chains and Enterprises (HIFIVE) program works across the financial sector to bring savings, credit and remittance-linked products to people living in poverty in underserved areas of the country.
The WOCCU team of 16, under the leadership of Greta Greathouse, was at work for less than six months when on January 12 a devastating earthquake struck just south of the capital of Port-au-Prince. We have begun receiving sporadic reports from the field, including the following initial e-mail from Greathouse:
PÉTIONVILLE, Haiti — We survived. The building has not. No one was injured in its evacuation. [The building] will not be repairable. Part of team was downtown with me for a meeting. We had just left when [the earthquake] happened. Because of the streets being blocked with rubble/people/abandoned cars and downed power lines, we decided to abandon our cars and walk back to the offices. Many of the staff had worked late, fled the building and were in the parking lot. We spent the night there.
Most team members were able to contact their families last night or this morning. We have limited power, Internet and phones, so communication is difficult.
My house is probably totally destroyed, given its proximity to the [Hotel] Montana and what happened on that mountainside. We are going to try to climb up to see later today. There's no vehicular access since the road is entirely blocked with rubble and boulders from the collapse of the Montana and other buildings. I am staying with a colleague who lives in a safe area. No water, but he has limited electricity.
To support WOCCU's relief efforts on behalf of Haiti's credit unions and their members, make payments via check, credit card or wire to:
Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, Inc., 5710 Mineral Point Road, Madison, WI 53705, USA
Donations may be made online with a credit card at www.woccu.org /give. For wire transfer information, contact: Valerie Breunig, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, 608-395-2055 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please indicate that your donation is for the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund.
U.S. credit unions can also support WOCCU's relief efforts by donating through the National Credit Union Foundation's CUAid system at www.CUAid.coop.
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 57,000 credit unions in 103 countries serve 208 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.