Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

GSS Haiti Delegation

Since 2008, GSS students have participated in Study Tours initially focusing on Haitian bateyes in the Dominican Republic (2008-2009), and then shifting focus to Haitian communities, post-disaster (2010-2013).  To date, a total of 72 students were directly involved in capacity mapping and community building in rural communities in the Dominican bateyes and in Haiti.

Since 2010, Dr. Marciana Popescu (GSS Institute for Women & Girls Steering Committee member) partnered with KONPAY, a community-based organization focusing on sustainable development through the empowerment of youth and local communities, and
Social Tap, Inc.'s The Haiti Initiative (THI), a nonprofit organization aiming to bring together resources needed to empower local communities through asset-based community development.  Dr. Popescu worked closely with these organizations for the past three years, and through them, in 2012, established partnerships with two other women's organizations, as well as a community bank providing start-up funds and training to women who then manage micro-credits as a tool of economic empowerment and prevention of abuse.

To this end, participants in the Haiti Study Tour have proposed and focused on the following areas in Haiti:

Rural Women

In March 2010, the DR/Haiti Study Tour 2010 began their collaboration with KONPAY "Konbit Pou  Ayiti" months after the January 2010 earthquake.  During their site visit with KONPAY the group met with Joe Duplan, President of KONPAY, and discussed the "Rocket Stove Program" (currently known as the Alternative Fuel and Clean Cook Stove Program).  They began program development, incorporating a Work for Cash program component for the Rocket Stove strategically targeting women in rural areas, providing economic-development opportunities, creating new sustainable skill sets through trainers, improving health conditions for both mothers and their children, and improving security while tackling one of the roots of chronic poverty in Haiti - the environment - by providing an alternative to cutting down trees.

(Note: According to a report released by World Health Organization (WHO), over 2 million children under the age of 5 die each year out of the 5 million who die each year from air pollutants from being around open cook fires.)   

Human Rights

This is a pilot program in Jacmel, Haiti to increase the self-sustainability of women and their families without resorting to involvement in sex for survival.

  • Anti-victimization community-based intervention
  • Transitional housing in the form of a co-op provided for the women and their children
  • Tailored educational program with alternative workforce training
  • Psycho-social workshops provided to assist the women's transition
  • Training on micro-loans and small business skills

School Development

The Haiti Study Tour 2012 volunteered their time in Haiti providing maintenance and light construction for two schools: Lycee Pinchinat located in Jacmel and Ecole Nationale de Cyvadier.  Their contribution improved access to education and access to water.

The Haiti Study Tour 2013 participated in an even larger school development project!


Fordham GSS' Haiti Study Tour 2013 continued their work in Haiti - specifically focusing on increasing educational access in rural areas by focusing on Social Tap, Inc.'s School Development Program targeting "The School of Hope," a community primary school.  The participants assisted in laying the foundation of the school physically, but in the large picture they created safety and security for girls and women, provided training and job development for youth, and increased community capacity overall.


For more information about the annual GSS Haiti Study Tour contact Dr. Marciana Popescu at

To learn more about Social Tap, Inc.:



GSS Professor's Study Tour
Students On-Site Disaster-Aid Experience

Born and raised in Europe, Marciana Popescu, Ph.D. (pictured above), associate professor of social work, has always had a more "macro" view of the profession, one that focuses on social development.

"For me, social work is international and social work means development," said Popescu, a native of Romania.  "However, when you say 'social work' in the United States, many people think of clinical practice, of therapy and direct intervention."

To bring an international and human rights perspective to the teaching of social work, Popescu designed a course that would take students to different countries where they could apply the theories they learned in class.  The course, "International Social Development and Community-Building in a Global Context," has located its last few cohorts around the town of Barahona in the Dominican Republic.  In bateyes - communities established adjacent to sugar cane plantations for Haitian workers - they have encountered some of the Dominican Republic's poorest Haitian refugees.

There, Fordham students in the Graduate School of Social Service (GSS) worked with Haitian communities generally and Haitian children specifically, focusing on literacy and access to education.  This year, however, the class added an extra component to the trip - a four-day excursion into Haiti's third largest city, Jacmel, in the wake of the devastating earthquake.

"You can't really learn about international development unless you do something that is related to global issues," said Popescu, who traveled with 11 students to the Dominican Republic and Haiti from March 14 through 21, 2010.  "This earthquake has made Haiti a global priority."



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