Glencree began working in Haiti in 2004 when it was invited by Concern Worldwide to make an intervention in the area of St Martin in Belair, adjacent to Cité Soleil. St Martin has a population in the region of 100,000 people in little over 1 square kilometre, with no electricity or running water and constant food insecurity, the entire population experiences severe suffering on a daily basis.

Concern was unable to deliver aid to the community of St Martin as a result of an escalation in gang related violence. Glencree initiated a process of inclusive dialogue within the St Martin community which was aimed at healing the wounds of the past and reducing overall levels of violence. The process involved offering training in peace building to members of the gangs (who prefer to be called “Baz”) and to those people in the community who had been hurt by the Baz. This process reintroduced the gangs to the community to which they had belonged but had become excluded. The intervention resulted in a more integrated community, leading to a drastic reduction in violence as respectful relationships re-emerged. Concern were then able to resume delivery of their aid to some of the poorest people in the world.

With the levels of violence reduced, the next stage in this process was to ensure that it was sustainable. In order to create the opportunity for sustainability it was necessary to expand the dialogue process to other key sectors outside the community of St Martin. Two other sectors which impacted directly on levels of violence within St Martin were identified as the Private Sector and the Security Sector. Through the Chambers of Commerce in Haiti, Glencree established relationships with business leaders who had industries and businesses adjacent to the community of St Martin. The business leaders were asked to engage in the process which involved meeting people from St Martin, including some who may have been involved in kidnapping business community members and other criminal activity.

It was made clear from the outset that we did not need well-intentioned representatives from the private sector who were motivated by the need to do something charitable for the poor of St Martin. In order to build a durable process, we needed people who had the pragmatism and vision to see that an investment of time could yield both financial and human development potential. Peace processes based on mutual self-interest have a greater likelihood of becoming sustainable. The willing business community members were trained and entered into dialogue with the people from St Martin where trusting and respectful relationships were built.

Out of these relationships the 3PSM (Partnership for Peace and Prosperity in ST Martin) was established. This cemented the relationship between St Martin and the Business sector as 3PSM galvanised its membership around the issue of the development of St Martin. Part of the success of our work relied heavily on the ability of Baz leaders to lead their constituencies through change. In November 2009 Glencree provided training to 24 Baz leaders from St Martin and a second community of Martissant in which a new inclusive dialogue process was growing. Just prior to the earthquake, one of the Baz in the Martissant community had unilaterally decommissioned by turning over its guns to the church.