Barbara Guillaume is a human rights activist born and raised in Haiti. She is a popular Haitian folk song artist known for her social justice lyrics. In 2006, she ran for mayor of the poorest area of Haiti, Cité Soleil, and was arrested on the day of the elections. She has wide support in Cité Soleil as an advocate of the poor and is running again in April 2011. She runs an IDP camp in Cité Soleil of 5,000 people and immediately after the earthquake opened a women’s community and outreach center in Delmas 64 that services 100 women a day with NO funding.
Maria Bello is an internationally renowned actor and women’s rights activist and the co-founder of We Advance, a movement in Haiti that helps to empower women. Having starred in over 30 movies, Bello has had several nominations and wins for her acting, including the Golden Globe Awards and the NY Film Critic’s Awards. She began her career as an activist at Villanova University, where she majored in Peace and Justice Education and worked at the Women’s Law Project in Philadelphia. In 2009 she was voted one of Variety magazine’s most powerful women in Hollywood for her activism with women in Darfur. Since 2008, she has worked in Haiti with Artists for Peace and Justice and Femmes en Democratie, a network of 300 Haitian women politicians, businesswomen and artisans. She raised funds and produced a women’s media campaign for the elections in November. She spearheaded the opening of the women’s clinic in the Petionville Camp immediately following the earthquake. In September 2011, she joined President Martelly’s Advisory Council on Investing in Haiti, advocating for investments for women in the country. She is a member of CGI and works on gender policy within the Haiti Network. Twitter: @maria_bello Blog: mariabello.org
Alison Thompson is a humanitarian and disaster relief veteran. She is a nurse, math teacher, investment banker and filmmaker. Following the Asian tsunami 2004 disaster, she travelled to Sri Lanka for two weeks to volunteer and ended up staying for two years running a refugee camp and field hospital at Peraliya Village. There, she launched the Community Tsunami Early-warning Center (CTEC), the first and only center of its kind in Sri Lanka which she still runs and funds six years later. Upon her return from Asia, Thompson directed an award-winning documentary called “The Third Wave” about the volunteering tsunami experience (thethirdwavemovie.com). Following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Thompson set out with a group of doctors and volunteers to establish Petionville IDP Camp which cares for over 60,000 people. There, she served as medical coordinator and oversaw the busy field hospital for five months. Thompson was first inspired to volunteer on Sept 11th in New York, where she established a first aid station at Ground Zero and volunteered for nine months. On January 26th 2010 Thompson was presented with the highest civilian award by Queen Elizabeth II for her contribution to disaster relief and mankind. Thompson’s new book, “The Third Wave,” is about her journey as a volunteer and inspiration for those who wish to volunteer. Twitter: @lightxxx
Aleda Frishman is a JD graduate from Hofstra University School of Law and an independent advocate for women’s rights. Frishman graduated from the University of Virginia with majors in Foreign Affairs and Southeast Asian Studies and was the recipient of the Bailey Tiffany Scholarship. During her first year of law school, Frishman received the Charles H. Revson Foundation’s Law Students Public Interest (LSPIN) Fellowship from New York University, enabling her to work with Global Justice Center (GJC) and the Women’s League of Burma in Chiang Mai Thailand where she conducted a six week training seminar on democracy building, human/women’s rights, feminist theory and advocacy. She also assisted in training workshops on the ICC/Universal Jurisdiction, federalism, and sensitivity interviewing techniques. Frishman worked with GJC researching global female political participation, strategies employed to increase participation and the proposed Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Charter. Frishman has attended several meetings at the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women. She also worked for the Asian Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development where she assisted the Regional Coordinator in drafting of the operation manual for organizational structure and policy procedures. Additionally, Frishman created regulation and procedural standards generating conformity within multifaceted programs comprised of 150 members in 23 countries, engendering organizations vision for future projects. For the past nine months, Frishman has served as a senior manager with J/P Haitian Relief Organization (JP HRO), overseeing a 55,000 person IDP camp in Haiti.
Letter From Founders:
The We Advance story began with four women who found themselves in a position to coalesce a groundswell of support – primarily from other women – for a community devastated by natural disaster. The story has evolved to include the network (dare we say movement) of women who have refused to take no for an answer.
In the two years since the 2010 earthquake ruined lives and created overwhelming health and security hardships for Haitian women, WE ADVANCE has delivered basic health services to over 30,000 patients in the worst slum in Hiti, has provided powerful and empowerfing community outreach and adult education programs, and has become a key advocate on both national and international levels. Through the lessons we have learned, we have also formalized a model of agility and efficiency where many have failed. And we’ve done this with staggeringly small resources.
But WE ADVANCE is also the story of our network that guides us, our clients who humble us, our donors who took risks and support us, and our partnerships with other NGOs who continue to honor us through their own perseverance. In addition, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the community of Wharf Jeremy who worked with us every step of the way to prove that hope overcomes fear, compassion outweighs divisiveness, and hard work trumps apathy.
WE ADVANCE is a true ‘David versus Goliath’ success story that we are immensely privileged to share. Our simple success questions the long held beliefs of the traditional relief organizations. We have proven that we are stronger together than we are alone.
Together: WE ADVANCE.