Haiti is not easy and everyone who works here knows it. JE is lucky to have such a great staff and community but we don’t always get lucky in the larger Haitian community.
Yes, this is an update on our solar panel project. It is a sad update but we haven’t given up yet. Even with a straight forward project like this, there are so many nuances.
We have been trying for 8 months to get our solar panels out of customs. We have pretty much lost this shipment due to corruption in the Customs office. In the beginning there were solid partnerships. The nuns had said yes to accepting the shipment but at the last minute the catholic brothers said no. So we searched quickly for a new partner to accept a shipment. A Jacmel Senator said yes to helping us, but put us under an organization that cannot accept shipments tax free. It was too late to change anything and the new organization had problems with their legal paperwork. When Customs sees problems with paperwork, they go in for the kill.
Customs has lied on two of our inspections and used those lies against us. Saying because the inventory counts (that they lied about) don’t match, we must be selling them and therefor deserve to pay 30% market value for them. We have provided documentation to prove we are giving the panels away for free to benefit the community, to no avail. Someone must want our panels.
But we are not doing any of this work because it is easy. We do it because its hard. And even though almost all is but lost, we are meeting with people this weekend to discuss any further actions we may take to insure we receive this shipment. Wish us luck because the fight is not over yet.