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Sept. 15, 2003

Faces of HAITI

Briel Laveielle is restoring hope to Fond des Blancs residents by helping them find jobs and meeting other basic needs.

riel Laveielle takes long strides as he leads visitors up a rocky, muddy hill. At the top, just a few feet from his concrete house, is a large wood structure that looks something like a giant gazebo.

This is home base for Ratrap, Laveielle’s attempt to improve the quality of life in Fond des Blancs.

Through his organization, 600 residents have purchased hand tools or basic farming equipment. Small groups of men are then sent out to clear land or plant crops for large property owners. They use a fraction of their earnings to pay over time for the tools.

Through another program, residents receive chickens. Laveielle disappears into a back room, then emerges with jars of antibiotics and antiparasitic vaccines used to ensure the animals are healthy.

For years, Laveielle watched as residents lost hope and abandoned the region his family has long called home. Some went to Port-au-Prince, desperate for a job. Others tried to find their way to the United States or Canada, risking their lives because they saw no future for themselves in Fond des Blancs.

He vowed not to let that continue. He has become something of an unofficial mayor for the region.

To pay for Ratrap, an acronym for a series of Haitian words no one uses, Laveielle solicits help from international relief organizations, large and small. Among the groups he turned to was St. Boniface Haiti Foundation, which works with Laveielle to build new houses for some of the region’s poorest residents.

“This is a section where the state government doesn’t care for its people because it’s so in the back,” Laveielle said in Creole.

Laveielle, who during the day is a security guard at St. Boniface Hospital, credits the St. Boniface foundation with helping meet the basic needs of people who live here - health care, housing and education.

And that is providing something else.

“People who left for many years are coming back to build houses in Fond des Blancs,” he said. “Most of the people who leave don’t leave because they don’t want to live here. They could not imagine before that there could be hope. There’s more hope now.”

Karen Eschbacher may be reached at

Stories by
Karen Eschbacher
Photos by
Gary Higgins

The Patriot Ledger

Small Comforts in a Hard World: South Shore group's efforts provide housing, work to Haitian poor

A Study of Hope and Faith: Randolph woman is unlikely savior of Haiti's poor and downtrodden

Faces of Haiti: Briel Laveielle

Links to the South Shore of Massachusetts

Personal Journal

Numbers That Count: Here and There

Small map of Haiti (90KB)

Large map of Haiti (100KB)

Photos from Haiti (513KB)

View printed pages from the series


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