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Haiti Expert Recommends High-Impact Nonprofits to Support

March 11th, 2010 by dawn Leave a reply »

There are approximately 900 nonprofits listed under the category of ‘Haiti’ in Guidestar alone.  During the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake, many donors have been asking the question: which nonprofits should I support? At Philanthropedia, we believe that supporting high-impact nonprofits is the most effective way to make a difference with your donation. Our solution to identifying high-impact nonprofits is to rely on the recommendations of experts who know the sector the best. Given the time constraints and unique transitory nature of natural disasters, we weren’t able to run our full methodology for Haiti relief as a social cause. However, we believe this interview with one Haiti expert is a good demonstration of the value that experts can bring in helping to identify high-impact nonprofits for donors to support.


The 7.0-magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12, 2010 killed an estimated 230,000 people, which is equivalent to the metro population of the Greater Portland Area (Fox News February 10, 2010; The outpouring of generosity to support the immediate disaster relief efforts has been tremendous. Yet, with the collapse of 250,000 houses and 30,000 commercial buildings, and an estimated 1.5 million people homeless (BBC January 22, 2010), supporting high-impact nonprofits focused on long-term development in addition to immediate relief organizations is important for the reconstruction of Haiti.

Haiti has suffered from previous natural disasters (3,000 people were killed in floods following the 2004 Hurricane Jeanne and 800 people were killed in landslides during the 2008 hurricane season). Haiti is, by a significant margin, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with four out of five people living in poverty (New York Times January 25, 2010). Mark Schneider, who led the Caribbean division of the U.S. Agency for International Development during the Clinton Administration, said that efforts to redevelop Haiti’s long-ravaged economy may have been set back by “decades” (CNN January 19, 2010).

To identify high-impact nonprofits in Haiti, we interviewed Moira (Feeney) Duvernay, an expert who has had 12 years of work experience in Haiti and who was the lead attorney in two cases against former Haitian military officials. Through her recommendations, we created a Haiti expert fund, so donors can easily support a cohort of high-impact nonprofits each tackling a different social problem. We believe that this is a good demonstration of the value that expert opinions can bring to help identify high-impact nonprofits for donors to support. Click here to donate to the Haiti Fund!


Moira (Feeney) Duvernay

Attorney At Law, Law Offices of Amitai Schwartz. 2008 – present.
Staff Attorney with the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) 2006-2008
12 years of relevant work experience

Moira has been involved in human rights work related to Haiti since 1998. She was the Center for Justice and Accountability’s lead attorney in the case against former Haitian death squad leader Toto Constant. She also litigated CJA’s other successful Haiti case, Jean v. Dorelien, in which CJA’s clients recovered just under $1 million from former Haitian colonel Carl Dorelien who in 1997 had won  $3.2 million in the Florida state lottery. Both Constant and Dorelien were found liable for human rights abuses committed during the 1991-1994 military dictatorship in Haiti.

Currently, Moira is on the board of Sustainable Organization Integrated Livelihood (SOIL) which works to protect soil resources, empower communities, and transform wastes into resources in Northern Haiti.  SOIL ‘s projects include building eco and community friendly composting toilet facilities that are having a huge positive impact on some of Haiti’s most pressing public health issues . She is also involved in the US-based Haiti solidarity community working to raise awareness of human rights issues in the US and Haiti. Moira is fluent in French, Creole, and Spanish.

Moira first got involved in Haiti when she volunteered as an English and Spanish teacher in Haiti at the Louverture Cleary School, administered by the Haitian Project, a US-based non-profit.  She taught school for one year in Haiti, but it was really her students who taught her the most, including how to speak Haitian Creole.  She came back to the United States and worked for the international human rights organization Global Exchange based in San Francisco. She served as the coordinator of their Haiti program, organizing election observation delegations.  She also led and organized educational travel focused on issues of global justice to Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Chiapas, Mexico.

After her work with Global Exchange, Moira pursued her law degree at UC Hastings College of the Law. During her time in law school, she helped create a sister school relationship with the law school in Jeremie, Haiti. The Hastings to Haiti Partnership is now a thriving program that allows educational exchange between American and Haitian law students and professors. In addition to her J.D. from Hastings, Moira has a B.A. in international relations from Brown University.


Nonprofit Recommendations:

Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH)

Moira recommends IJDH because of its focus on the long term legal and human rights implications of the earthquake.

Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti fights for the human rights of Haiti’s poor, in court, on the streets, and wherever decisions about Haitians’ rights are made. This organization represents the unjustly imprisoned and victims of political persecution, coordinates grassroots advocacy in Haiti and in the US, trains human rights advocates in Haiti, and disseminates human rights information worldwide. Read more at IJDH at

Area of Focus: Human Rights
Location: Joseph, OR / Port au Prince, Haiti
Phone: 541- 432- 0597

Partners in Health (PIH)

Moira recommends Partners in Health because they have a strong infrastructure set up in Haiti for both the short and long term.

Zanmi Lasante (“Partners In Health” in Haitian Kreyol) is PIH’s flagship project – the oldest, largest, most ambitious, and most replicated. Today, ZL has operations in nine sites across Haiti’s Central Plateau and beyond. It ranks as one of the largest nongovernmental health care providers in Haiti – and is the only provider of comprehensive primary care (regardless of one’s ability to pay) for more than half a million impoverished people living in the mountainous Central Plateau. Read more about PIH at

Area of Focus: Health
Location: Boston, MA
Phone: 617- 432- 5256

Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihood (SOIL)

Moira is on the board of SOIL and believes their method of reusing waste promotes sustainability and combats sanitary problems. They partner with groups like Partners in Health so they can respond quickly to situations on the ground in Haiti. For example, they were able to get to Port-au-Prince from the North faster than most international groups after the 2010 earthquake.

SOIL creates sustainable toilets that allow one to reuse waste which can be used as soil for growing. This process helps protect soil resources, empower communities, and transforms waste into a resource in Haiti. Read more about SOIL at

Area of Focus: Sanitation
Location: Sherburne, NY
Phone: 503-807-3923

Konbit Pou Aviti/KONPAY (Working Together for Haiti)

Moira believes that KONPAY has a strong infrastructure on the ground in Haiti. They are doing a great job at providing emergency relief in Jacmel, an area hit hard by the earthquake but cut off from most relief efforts that are focused on Port au Prince. KONPAY is directing 100% of earthquake donations to getting deliveries of medical supplies and food to the Jacmel region where an estimated 100,000 are currently homeless.

KONPAY focuses on Haitian solutions to environmental, social, and economic problems, and provides training and funding to grassroots and community-based projects. They support Haitian-led efforts to reforest Haiti and protect the environment.

Area of Focus: Environment and Community Development
Location: Gloucester, MA
Phone: 978-335-2758

Haitian Education Leadership Program (H.E.L.P.)

Moira recommends Haitian Education Leadership Program because they provide scholarships to low-income students with high academic potential and achievement for higher education. She believes now more than ever it will be important to support this kind of work because these students are Haiti’s future. She believes that providing these students (who do not have the resources) with the opportunity to pursue higher education is the key to the long term investment in Haiti.

With H.E.L.P. scholarships, top Haitian students can escape desperate poverty to become doctors and nurses, accountants, engineers, teachers, and computer programmers. H.E.L.P. is sponsoring 110 students for the 2009/2010 academic year, all of whom thankfully survived the earthquake. H.E.L.P. graduates provide economic security for their families and the much needed expertise for the development of their country.

Area of Focus: Education
Location: New York, NY
Phone: 646- 485-8667


For more information about Haiti and a list of organizations working in Haiti visit:

Click here to donate to the Haiti Fund!


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