Industry efforts to help restore Haiti's financial structure following last January's devastating earthquake have drawn in the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association and Mid-Atlantic Corporate FCU, who are making a special trip to the country.
A delegation representing the PCUA and Mid-Atlantic will be spending two weeks in the country under the leadership of PCUA's executive director Joseph Wambach and his Haitian-born wife, Maryse, who is a doctor. The group plans to help assess the rebuilding of the international remittance system, and to explore new CU partnerships in the Caribbean nation.
"We feel strongly that as credit union leaders we have an obligation to do our part on the world stage to assist when tragedy strikes," said Christine M. Woods, president/CEO of the $75 million Keystone FCU of West Chester. Woods, a foundation director, is absorbing a good portion of the personal expenses to make the journey, but donations have also come in from Keystone members. She said the Haiti trek will focus on how Pennsylvania CUs and Mid-Atlantic might fix the damaged remittance system between the U.S. and Haiti, and that the group will also consider potential World Council of Credit Union partnerships involving PCUA and the Haitian CU system.
Unfortunately, said Keystone, the Haitian system to send money and supplies to those still living in Haiti needs improvement. "The methods used to send remittances are not always the most attractive and beneficial to those who have the means to send them."
Woods explained that CUs can help "by providing safe and affordable alternatives for money transfer services to counter the exorbitant fees being charged by other remittance agencies." In this way, CUs "are able to serve the unbanked and underserved."