NEW YORK (AP) — Humanitarian donations to conflict-ravaged Haiti have dramatically declined since the assassination of its President Jovenel Moïse in 2021, but the W.K. Kellogg Foundation wants to reverse that with a new $90 million campaign it calls "Pockets of Hope."
The initiative, which the foundation launched in September with a commitment of $30 million over three years, will focus on community-level efforts to provide education, health care and economic development, said La June Montgomery Tabron, the foundation's president and CEO. She hopes the foundation's success in providing support to communities in Haiti even while gang violence escalates in the country will convince other nonprofits to help as well.
"Part of this campaign is to help other funders understand that there is an ecosystem in Haiti that is functioning," Montgomery Tabron said. "It's about the local organizations. We're trying to explain to partners that we can help connect them to those places, those pockets of hope where the investments will truly matter and make a difference."
In the past month, "Pockets of Hope" raised an additional $20 million collectively in commitments from the Digicel Foundation, the Dunn Family Charitable Foundation, and the Amsterdam-based Porticus foundation.
Actress Garcelle Beauvais, who emigrated from Haiti to the United States as a child, told The Associated Press that she wanted to support "Pockets of Hope" to let Haitians know that they have not been forgotten by the rest of the world.
"That's important for people to know that there's a community out there that's looking out for them," said Beauvais, who currently stars in "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" and "The Real Murders of Los Angeles." "We can't give up on Haiti. When things seem dire, that's not the time to say, 'I don't want to help.' That's when you come in."
According to the United Nations, armed gangs now control more than 80% of the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area. After visiting the country in July, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said Haitians were " trapped in a living nightmare " because the gangs limit access to food and health care.
Haiti is still trying to recover from a 2010 earthquake that its government said killed more than 300,000. The U.S. Agency for International Development has provided more than $2 billion to fund rebuilding efforts. However, a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office report said that most of the projects USAID funded have been delayed or scaled back, with only half of the major projects getting finished.
Montgomery Tabron said the Kellogg Foundation has found success by focusing on community programs for economic development, health and education that are designed and implemented by Haitians. The foundation's long-running, individual approach to aid in the country has forged trust with local groups, said Montgomery Tabron, adding that it's that network of community leaders that "Pockets of Hope" plans to support with new funding.
"We have Haitians on our staff," she said. "We are committed to Haiti. We committed for at least a generation because we knew that you have to build relationships. You have to be here on the ground and know what's moving and where you can make a difference."
Beauvais said she shares the Kellogg Foundation's commitment to Haiti and hopes that one day the world can see the country she remembers fondly.
"Haitian people are so beautiful," she said. "If you see the beautiful little children there, you want to help. You want to give them what we consider are the basics — food, education and health care. I think they deserve it."