Other Frequently Asked Questions
Why not food/water/shelter/electricity/roads?
First, there is already a deluge of organizations in Haiti that provide basic needs, such as food, water, shelter and medical treatment. Hope on a String does not aim to be another. Although these organizations are providing necessary short-term band-aids for Haiti's wounds, Haiti on a whole remains impoverished. And to supply some of these needs would be relieving the pressure upon the government to provide public services for its people.
Secondly, Hope on a String believes that the underlying problem of weak community foundation must be tackled before sustainable change can be realized. In order to create a society where people can realize better life prospects, communities must feel empowered to seek sustainable and impactful solutions to existing social problems.
Why not microloans/income generation/scholarships?
Hope on a String seeks to impact the community, rather than target individuals. While these popular efforts have had success in lifting individuals and families out of poverty, they can also weaken the community when individuals most capable of improving the community leave for the capital or emigrate internationally. The problem of "brain-drain" is particularly acute in rural Haiti, as extreme urban crowding and centralization continues in Port-au-Prince and large Haitian diasporas flourish in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. By focusing on the grassroots development of the community unit, an environment can be fostered where individuals are no longer desperate or forced to leave their communities.
How is music going to make a real difference?
Music on its own provides the inherent benefits of cultural enjoyment, healing, and community gathering. However, Hope on a String will take the opportunity to expand the impact of the program by leveraging musical engagement with forums to engage people in the social problems of their environment. In addition to programming that will foster musical engagement and performances for the community, Hope on a String will respond to community needs with information and instruction on areas such as: sustainable agriculture, entrepreneurship, small business planning, community organizing, and health practices.
Music is the means to Hope on a String’s goal of developing an environment of strengthened community. By providing a physical place to come together and strengthen a sense of community, Hope on a String will create a phenomenon of musical engagement. As we define it, this occurs when music is the initial reason for participation, however the newly-created environment ultimately inspires the community to engage and take action on community issues. This collective action is what will make real and lasting difference in the community.
Why does community matter?
Community involvement is important for the sustainability and credibility of Hope on a String. Without the support and involvement from the community, the program runs the risk of becoming another externally-led, short-lived project with short-lived impacts. Hope on a String aims to build the program with the community and operate the program under local leadership.
Also, central to the Hope on a String’s theory of change is the goal of strengthening the social fabric of the community to enable social transformation and economic development. Disenfranchised Haitians need the opportunity to come together as a group, to express themselves, identify their leaders, prioritize community needs, and find a collective voice to take action on those needs. Individuals can say to each other that they need electricity, roads, health care and education, but without the backing and power of a collective voice, the dialogue often does not transform into initiative and action.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead
What difference is this going to make in the short-term?
In the first year of operations, Hope on a String provides a gathering place for the community, opportunities for members to build skills, and the simple enjoyment of participating or listening to music. These initial results of the program will lay the groundwork for the community self-realization and confidence-building necessary for long-term results in the way of social transformation and economic development.
What difference is this going to make in the long-term?
In the long-term, the music engagement of Hope on a String will lead the community to seek solutions to its current difficulties. When the community environment has been developed through musical engagement, the community will not acquiesce to stagnating or sinking deeper into poverty, but rather pursue avenues of improvement. At this point in time, it would not be our role to identify which areas would yield results. We hope that future projects will be driven entirely by community input and action.
It is important to note that Hope on a String is not aiming to educate community members in technical musicianship and does not have a long-term goal of creating world-class musicians. In our model, music excellence in individuals is not an end goal; accessible music for all is a path to our vision: community engagement in social issues.
What is your theory of change?
How is Hope on a String different? Why is different good?
Hope on a String is not seeking individual intervention; for example, teaching one child musical skills to excel personally. The program will focus on benefiting the community rather than the individual, as community building is central to our theory of change. Individuals and leaders will be key in the success of the program, but the focus will always be on improvement for the community.
Hope on a String will not provide solutions to surface problems, such as lack of jobs, food insecurity, and poor public services. Our program will target what we believe to be the underlying problem in Haiti: the weakened social fabric of the community. By tackling the underlying problem, we face a longer road to relieving the suffering of the more apparent surface problems; however, we feel it is the most responsible approach to creating change in the long-run.
Our end goals of social transformation and economic development are long-term and will be defined by the community. We believe that this paradigm shift from traditional, externally-defined development will lead to the most sustainable and successful community development and efficient use of resources over the longer-term horizon.