La Difference, Twa Bebe (Cite Soleil)

La Difference is a community in Cite Soleil which has transformed itself into a symbol of cleanliness and neighborhood responsibility by using community solidarity and starting from what they have. 

3Bebe is a neighborhood in Cite Soleil, located next to the infamous Canal St George, which carries water and trash from the higher parts of Port au Prince to the sea. 3Bebe, like many parts of Cite Soleil at the time, was both dirty and dangerous. In 2004, a young man named Stephen Italien invited a friend from school to visit his house, and was so ashamed at how his friend reacted to the state of his neighborhood that he decided enough was enough. He called a neighborhood meeting and declared that "it is not a neighborhood that makes its people, it is people that makes a neighborhood". The community decided to rename itself "La Difference", and with nothing but borrowed brooms and old television boxes to serve as wheelbarrows, the population of La Difference began to clean the streets.

8 years later, La Difference is the cleanest community in Cite Soleil, if not Port au Prince. Daily cleanups, home-made and donated trash bins, colorful paint, and greenery are what make La Difference truly different from almost all of its neighboring communities. The people of La Difference have stayed committed to their clean streets even through dangerous times, and by showing such visible community solidarity they have also managed to keep their streets incredibly safe. La Difference gives its residents value and dignity through agro-artisanal festivals, community activities, and a clean face. They have also worked to educate other communities about the importance of taking responsibility for their streets, and advocating for a more permanent resolution to the trash problems of the capital.

La Difference has a wealth of knowledge to share about organising neighborhood cleaning committees, and many communities could learn from La Difference's community-driven approach that focuses on giving its residents dignity through using what they have. La Difference could be considered a positive deviant in Cite Soleil, and has already succeeded in inspiring dozens of other neighborhoods to take responsibility for their streets. 

Download full report (in english): 
GPS coordinates: 
Primary contact: 
Stephen Italien, President of La Difference. Telephone: 36315255
Michel Wilgempson, Spokesperson of La Difference. Telephone: 39184952

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Cite Soleil