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Founder and CEO,
Creative Exchanges Initiative: 

Jeannette Countryside with Cathy Mary Ka

How It Started

Creative Exchanges Initiative's model has evolved during 30 years of committed friendship, work, and learning among  American and Haitian partners. 

An earthquake forced us all to face the fact that a lot of interventions in Haiti were hurting more than helping. Then, a hurricane gave us the opportunity to create something brand new, and far better.

How It Works


All of our work in Haiti is led, managed, and implemented by Haitians. Our holistic, locally-led model simultaneously addresses needs for income, food, soil restoration, effective local leadership, and education throughout the community. We bake in participatory democratic processes that build civil infrastructure for the long term. 


Integrated initiatives bring a village to an inflection point more effectively and more equitably than older program-based, project-focused, or outsider-led models.


Goats. Agriculture.Women's Groups. Financial Education. Training in Entrepreneurship and Business Skills. Academic Competition for Youth and Training for their Teachers. Together, they build capacity that lasts. 

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Why It Works

People closest to the problems have the most say in solving them. A democratic participatory approach ensures that each voice counts. Give-back programs honor dignity, reduce cost, and build mutual investment in outcomes.

In the process of meeting basic needs of food, income, education, lack of business and financial skills, and environmental degradation, we also build viable leadership and a healthy civil infrastructure that's necessary for long-term impact.

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