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The Canadian Foundation for the Americas (FOCAL) is no longer in operation. This website documents FOCAL's activities and accomplishments throughout its existence. Thank you for your interest in the work of FOCAL.

Bank gives boost to Haitians

Haiti’s alternative bank for the organized poor, Fonkoze, is continuing to extend its aid to Haitians in need. Composed of three institutions, Fonkoze’s mission is conveyed in its name, an acronym for the Haitian Creole phrase “Fondasyon Kole Zepòl,” which translates to “Shoulder-to-Shoulder Foundation.” Fonkoze, grounded in principles such as solidarity, sustainability, transparency and priority to women, is working toward battling the many challenges that Haitians currently face in their dire situation. The organization estimates that 8,000 to 10,000 of its clients have lost their homes, their business or both. Fonkoze cites that one of their most urgent concerns is how to rebuild these staples that Haitians have lost. Other challenges that Haitians face include acquiring sufficient food and water, securing adequate shelter prior to the forthcoming rainy season, reuniting with family members and controlling the potential spread of disease. The organization is structured in four ascending steps, in terms of what it offers in its outreach: reaching out to the poorest of the poor; providing small credit; organization into a solidarity group; and providing year-long loans for business development. For the latest information about Haiti’s state and to contribute to the “Relief and Rehabilitation Fund,” please visit www.fonkoze.org.

Mexico's effort in Haiti

On Feb. 21, 2010, Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón met with Haiti’s President René Préval to discuss Haiti’s future post-quake and to reaffirm commitment to the island nation. They stressed the importance of achieving long term economic growth in Haiti. Calderón pledged continued aid to Haiti and extended his support in making the reconstruction of Haiti one of the top priorities of the new Latin American and Caribbean bloc, founded by Mexico. When the earthquake hit, Mexico’s response was immediate: rescue workers, food, medicine and doctors were all sent to Haiti. Haiti could greatly benefit from Mexico’s experience of post-disaster reconstruction gained after Mexico City was rocked by a devastating earthquake in 1985, which caused extensive infrastructure damage. Mexico is now focusing on helping Haiti achieve economic development and integrate it into Latin America.

The Governor General visits Haiti

Governor General of Canada Michaëlle Jean visited the Republic of Haiti, her homeland, from March 8 to 10. Jean’s visit to Haiti was meant to reinforce the Canada-Haiti relationship, in relation to Haiti’s reconstruction as a result of the Jan. 12 crisis. Jean met with Haitian President René Préval, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive and civil society members. She highlighted the magnitude of the involvement of women and youth in Haiti’s reconstruction and development, telling the women that they represented hope in Haiti, and adding that they deserve to be treated with respect. Jean stated in a news conference that people around the world, particularly Canada, would continue to help and care for the country.

Further plans for Haiti

To follow up on the Jan. 25 Montreal donors’ conference organized in response the Haitian earthquake, the U.S. will host a conference on Haiti at the United Nations (UN) in New York on March 31, 2010. This meeting will review the first full disaster assessment and the new national development plan being prepared by the UN and technical experts from other regional multilateral bodies in response to the earthquake. At the meeting, Haiti will present its vision for reconstruction and how international support can assist. At the Montreal conference, 20 countries pledged to “stand with Haiti for the long term,” saying an initial 10-year commitment was “essential.” The Haitian government also asked the UN to more precisely assess the costs and time period. As part of the ongoing international process to assist Haiti, a series of consultations will occur in the run up to the March 31 meeting: the Inter-American Development Bank will host a private sector consultation on March 15 in Port-au-Prince; the Dominican Republic will convene a high level technical meeting of donors from March 16 to 17 to evaluate the economic consequences of the quake; Canada will fund a consultation with the Haitian diaspora at Organization of American States (OAS) headquarters in Washington, D.C. from March 21 to 23; France will host an international gathering of local government authorities in the French West Indies; and the U.S. will host a civil society consultation.

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