Robillard, Louiino, Class of 2013 – (Cité Soleil, Haiti)

Practicum Summary:

Konbit: Finding Haitian Solidarity in Modern Times

In Louino Robillard’s research practicum, he examines the tradition of Konbit in Haiti, a system rooted in rural Haiti in which peasants help each other cultivate the earth. Over the years, Haiti has steadily grown more dependent on foreign aid, causing Haiti to become known as the “Republic of NGOs.” Realizing the negative effects that foreign aid has inflicted, including a representation of Haiti as a backward, poor, charity case, Robillard sought to focus his research on a current success in Haiti– the aforementioned Konbit system. This study uses qualitative research in order to determine how people are performing konbit and the ways in which konbit is interpreted and understood amongst practitioners. Using informal consultations with people in different domains and areas across Haiti, Louino discovered that the four areas where konbit is employed are the agriculture, economic, community, and cultural domains. After completing consultations, Louino drafted a questionnaire and developed case studies and informal focus groups to get his results. He concluded that konbit is not just a traditional cooperative, but a “system of solidarity in which Haitians who are motivated by their consciences voluntarily participate in collaborative action that preserves their livelihoods, their cultures, and their interdependence, in any aspect of life.” Louino believes that if Haiti is without a direction, then going back to konbit will restore solidarity among the people. To do this, he recommends entering konbit into the Haitian constitution, teaching konbit in the educational system, educating international aid organizations on konbit, developing politics of konbit, developing a symbol of konbit, and convincing the Haitian Diaspora to collaborate with their hometowns to include the practice of konbit in development.