Transparency: all donations, whether financial, books, or in-kind, must be done publicly. This means that a photograph of the person or institution giving the donation should be taken and posted on social media so that everyone knows where the donations are coming up. No anonymous donations will be accepted. Funds are counted in public every week at the construction site, and a weekly summary of all donations is posted to Facebook. Now that Phase 1 of construction has begun, we are also posting a weekly summary of all expenditures with photos of receipts and contracts on this page. We are trying to set a new standard of transparency for development projects in Haiti.
Konbit: this initiative is carried out in the spirit of Konbit, with everyone contributing whatever they can, with participation being more important than the actual nature or size of the contribution. We value a child’s 5 gourde donation as much as a business’ 50,000 gourde donation; we value a student’s book as much as an organization’s contribution of 100 books, we value an artist contributing their voice to a song as much as a radio station contributing some of their airwaves to help spread the message. A volunteer once drove all the way from Port au Prince to Les Cayes (an eight-hour round trip) just to pick up a single gourde that a little boy wanted to contribute.
Invitations, not asks: the initiators of Konbit Bibliyotek will not formally ask anyone for money, nor write any official proposals requesting funds. What we can do is tell our story and invite people to participate. This is a subtle but important difference: we are not asking people to give because they take pity on Cite Soleil; we know that our project will succeed whether it takes one year of ten years, and we are giving people an opportunity to be a part of something incredible, innovative, and inspiring. Our donors have as much to gain from participating in this activity as our community does. We recognize that it is challenging for certain institutions to contribute without a formal application or proposal process, but this is an experiment in a new kind of community partnership and we hope that we can find ways of collaborating through creativity, communication, and transparency.
The #KonbitBibliyotek project is special in many ways because it adheres to a unique set of principles.