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Thoughts on rebuilding Haiti
Posted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:25 pm
Reprinted from Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/guy.antoine?v=f ... 8577034783
[quote]Please understand that Port-au-Prince and Haiti are NOT one and the same. A country never dies, unless it is utterly abandoned by all.
With all due respect to souls lost in PAP and other urban centers, the greatest urgency is to give all Haitians real incentives to go back and stay in their hometowns. The PAP model of country development for the past half century at least has failed spectacularly. If we blindly reinstate the causes of failure, we will be perfectly successful in ... failing again and again. Let's end "La République de Port-au-Prince" once and for all. Port-au-Prince is a city, not the Haiti that I grew in and love. Rebuild Haiti means exactly that : H A I T I (got it? it's made of 5 letters, not 12)
"Rebuild Haiti" means reforesting, decentralizing business activity, revalorizing agriculture, creating access to clean water and well-managed health clinics everywhere... It's a job so big that it will take at least 20 years. Let's invite the soil and reforestation experts now, because elsewhere in the world deserts far more arid than Haiti's have been transformed. Let's invite the marine ecologists now, so our seas can become hospitable once again to karets (sea turtles), lobsters and all sorts of tropical fish. Let's give back to the Haitian people the pride of growing their own food and the ability to sell their staples via internal distribution networks in lieu of importing eggs and plantains from the Dominican Republic, Do-Not-Wash rice and dark meat chicken from the U.S., corn flakes and other cereals from Miami, Domino's and Pizza Hut pizzas instead of the real sandwiches of Chez Nous, colored sugar waters in plastic containers instead of tropical "real fruit" juices like kowosòl, kachiman, grenadin (not grenadia) elatriye. Let's invite the agronomists, the epidemiologists, the engineers, the teachers who know how and what to teach, the development facilitators who understand that there is one solid reason that we do not play baseball in Haiti: we need to pursue our own destiny or we simply get lost forever. Let's invite the world in but retain our character. Let's cultivate the only ingredient that has seemed to be lacking in our History, LEADERSHIP, only because we have been too busy killing most of our leaders. Bring in human development experts of all stripes, giving preferential regards to our own, but if Haitians are not allowed to think for themselves what they want for their country, then we might as well build a new "Haiti in a can", but it certainly would not be what most of us hoped for when we talked of rebuilding Haiti.
Thank you for your feedback. If nothing else, it already demonstrates a community of spirit. I know of no better way than to spread the vision yourself, mouth to mouth, in family or community settings where you can be convincing. Of course, our vision of Haiti's renewal needs to be communicated upwards as well to the think tanks who naturally assume that they know better than Haitians what is best for Haitians. The Clinton initiative, for instance, is calling for foreign investors to come and create more factories in the Port-au-Prince area. The idea is to create jobs which Haitians sorely need. But imagine for a minute if 90% of all the jobs in the U.S. were located in Washington DC or any other city what kind of country would it be? The centralization model failed and is responsible for impoverishing the countryside. We must decentralize the business activity and spread out our administrative capacity. We have resources all over the world that can assist in the development of the entire country, why not actively pursue them? Why should we remain hostage to factory owners that pack up and leave at the first sign of trouble or unionization of their workers? A baby will accept whatever you feed him, breast milk or formula, but we are not babies and should not be treated as such. Whoever wants to do good by us needs to listen to all of us or we should call their bluff.
So the question remains. We need to communicate our vision sideways but forcefully upward as well. What are effective ways of achieving that? I would love to hear your ideas on this.
Posted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 10:36 pm
I could not agree with you more! I have been thinking exactly along those lines of rebuilding...
More to come.
Posted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 3:18 pm
I certainly have no business making suggestions on this topic, but I would like to put forward some thoughts that have been occurring to me. Every plan for redevelopment seems to start with an analysis of need, deficiencies, and weaknesses and an emphasis on what the developers can do to change the developees. And in all cases that I can see, the model is for the developees to model themselves on the developers and in the process benefit the developers more than the developees.
Does anyone ever look at strengths and see what would be possible within the context of the current cultural situation? Haiti is a unique and vibrant culture with smart, hardworking, resilient, and creative people everywhere. Why go for sweatshops? Is that the best anyone can come up with?
I am aware of two alternative models that seem to me to offer better possibilities than sewing shirts. About 100 miles south of where I live, there is a community of artisans called Mata Ortiz, who make exquisite, museum quality pottery to sell from Casas Grandes in Chihuahua, Mexico. This is hardly pots by the side of the road for tourists, but an expression of their culture and heritage which has the respect of the art world. A single pot might sell for six thousand dollars. And they did it all themselves. Likewise, I have watched the development of Haida art on the Northwest Coast of Canada and Alaska. In the 1960's and 70's there began a resurgence of this tradition and now this kind of art is respected throughout the world. The makers of this art are considered to be ARTISTS, and their works are protected by Canadian law.
I am impressed that Haitians are being pulled alive from the rubble a week after conventional wisdom says they are all probably dead. Pulled out alive and singing, arms thrust wide. What can the rest of the world learn from such people? Surely such people have answers to their problems if anyone will bother to listen to them.
Posted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:59 pm
Barb, your thoughts make a lot of sense and you should know that on this forum we consider you a sister of ours. So don't hesitate to express your views. Thanks.
Posted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:20 pm
[quote]Re: Jobs for Haitians in rebuilding Haiti
The reality is... unless you're talking to President Clinton or the powers that be, it's all whistling in the wind. You want jobs? They'll give you factories making shirts, bras, and pajamas (and a few "consultant" positions as well, to appease the most vocal among you... that's reality #2). Before THEY ever listen to you, you will have to figure out who is in charge, who you want to be in charge, and exactly what your priorities are! How many times do we have to go round the same merry-go-round without coming up with a plan of our own and some leadership? Papa Noel a pris sa retraite, au fait il n'a jamais existé!
We are only five years away from the centennial of our infamy and a significant portion of our society welcomes it back with open arms. Do remember that in 1915 they gave us jobs at gun point, establishing LA CORVÉE. The nature of the beast has not changed, in fact there is no reason for it to change. Unless WE change...
We have to be in a position to give ourselves the jobs that our country needs, first of all, instead of expecting that they will be handed down to us. What sort of country do we really want? If you were comfortable with the old order, chances are that you would only want to reconstitute the old order. If you were not, then you should want something different and define just what that is.
Many have observed the weakness of government and the quasi-absence of leadership in Haiti. Couldn't be more true. But it's one thing to observe a vacuum of leadership (obvious to all) and another to step up to the job of providing it. Let's write in the job descriptions, even theoretically, and then look for whom among us possess the requisite qualities and back them up. From top to bottom.
All jobs require skills, we just need to appreciate them to their just value. Housewives were thought to be unskilled, now they are homemakers and if it weren't for their particular sets of skills, most of us would spend the day very unhappy. Haitians should not work for the rice they are being fed. They should work at making the rice that they would feed us, as they did in the past. And that requires skills that will soon be lost for lack of practice. The first priority of any nation should be (to regain) the ability to feed itself rather than being fed by others. It surely begins with that. Toussaint Louverture understood that. Henry Christophe understood that. Why have we forgotten?[/quote]
Posted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 10:34 am
Great Ones, Guys!
Instead on having this on Facebook and Ann Pale, why don't you start presenting this for everyone to hear and see?
We need to be heard!
Also, we (diaspora) should start having more discussions on this topic of "Rebuilding". We need to get together. Tout moun alawonnbadE, nou genyen twOp bon zouti deyO ki kapab kontribye vrEman...
Haiti's cry for Help is towards US to get back to ground zero.
I believe that an Ann Pale we already touched on the decentralization of Port-au-Prince. We already touched on the wrong approaches by others who think depending on foreign help is the "only Solution". Si'w pa renmen tEt ou kilEs k'ap renmen'l.
Time is now to be heard!
Posted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 11:26 am
Leo, mwen dakò! Ann òganize nou!
I wrote a few thoughts on rebuilding...
Posted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:29 pm
I am writing simply as a son of Haiti who loves her dearly, who has never lost hope in her and who is committed to her so much more firmly. I will list some bullet points that I think should make a minimum of a rebuilding plan. It is not exhaustive; there are many other factors to consider. But these I think ought to be part of the bare minimum of conditions.
- We must believe that Haiti will not perish. She will rise again.[/*:m]
- We must rebuild Haiti one village at a time. This approach is long-term; it's not a quick fix. No quick fix can rebuild Haiti. I think it is a good thing that people are returning to their villages. My village alone has more than doubled in population, and the local leaders have already met to discuss ways to handle the changes.[/*:m]
- We must focus on helping to provide the necessities in the villages so that people will have enough to remain in their area and flourish from there. We should build new schools and health clinics or strengthen the ones already present.[/*:m]
- Education in the villages should integrate a respect for peasant life including farming. We should educate our children to be Haitians and to love and be proud of it. Creole should be taught to all and be given utmost respect.[/*:m]
- We MUST work with the local village leaders in targeting the needs of the area and to come to solutions together. The Catholic parishes/chapels have proven to be strong agents of positive change in whatever villages they are located, and they should be helped in their services as much as possible.[/*:m]
- Two of the greatest needs I have come across in the villages are the need for clean water and for IRRIGATION. So many crops are lost without rain. If there could be a constant source of water for the farmers, I think we would be able to feed ourselves again.[/*:m]
- Rebuilding of the National Palace and Cathedral should take some precedence in Port-au-Prince because these symbols of the state and the Church are important in providing a sense of motivation, hope and guidance for the people.[/*:m]
- Haiti will not rise without her children caring for her, or without their being united to and for her. Haiti, our mother, is tired. She has been wounded. It is for her children to reach out, all hands on board, to help her up. We will require the help of her friends too, not a handout but a heart out, reaching out to their brothers and sisters in strengthening the human family. We must make a COMMITMENT to Haiti so that we do not forget her after the cameras leave.[/*:m]
- Lastly, every plan of reconstruction must include a plan for the orphans, Haiti's most vulnerable.[/*:m]
The Haitian orphans are Haitian children who cannot be forgotten. They are persons, not just a category of people. Some principles must be in place for helping them:
- We should have a no less radical than a ZERO ORPHAN ON THE STREETS policy. Period.[/*:m]
- Effort should be made to help the children while in Haiti as much as possible.[/*:m]
- Qualified Haitian families in Haiti should be encouraged to adopt Haitian orphans.[/*:m]
- We should support grass roots efforts that create homes for orphans (the less institutional it feels the better) in local villages and try to integrate the orphans in a community. The small mission with which I am involved (MWTS Mission Haiti [haiti300.org]) tries to follow that model.[/*:m]
- Potentially all the orphans that are homeless now could easily be dispersed throughout the villages if there were structures set up for them.[/*:m]
- Undiscerning mass adoption of thousands of orphans is not advised for several reasons, including: The horror of taking a child that actually has family members seeking for him; the shock of those children finding themselves in a brand new place with no familiarity and no particular family to care for them, and; taking away Haiti's greatest resource (her children) by the thousands without any commitment to help these children stay connected to the ground and roots that gave rise to them.[/*:m]
- Individual international adoptions should be considered with the following recommendations: The child can GAIN a new culture but not LOSE his Haitian culture; proper consideration should be given to qualified Haitian families; foreign families should make every effort to learn about Haitian history and culture to as to help instill some of that in the child; travels should be planned to Haiti with the child so he can reconnect with his culture.[/*:m]
- I am currently helping an American family to adopt a Haitian child, and I would recommend their model. They are trying to learn Creole. They have asked me, a Haitian, to be the godfather. They plan on traveling to Haiti with the child.[/*:m]
How to Help
- Commit to stand with Haiti according to your capacity for the rest of your life.[/*:m]
- Hope and pass on hope for Haiti[/*:m]
- Cultivate a deep respect for Haiti that she deserves and realize that true help is a heart out not a hand out. In other words you are reaching out to family and friends not just to “the poorest people in the western hemisphere”.[/*:m]
- Support the grassroots groups already doing effective work in Haiti. My group is doing just that: www.haiti300.org[/*:m]
- Start new projects or fundraising events to help your village (if you are Haitian) or another village community.[/*:m]
- Speak to Universities trying to have them offer scholarships to bright Haitian students. This is the time to mobilize when everyone's attention is still locked in to Haiti.[/*:m]
- Find other creative ways to help that is respectful of the dignity of the human person and of Haitian culture.[/*:m]
Ayiti cheri, mwen renmen w! M fenk koumnse kanpe avè w!
For the full reflection, go to www.louis.blogspot.com
Posted: Fri Jan 29, 2010 5:23 pm
I agree with you Guy especially on the first statement that Port-au-Prince and Haiti are not the same, for the reason so many people die in Port-au-Prince is because too many people live there. People live in Port-au-Prince because that is the place to get a minimum of service. It is considered by many to be equivalent to Haiti because if you are not there or at least in some of the other well known cities you live in andeyò. If you are andeyò (outside), you are not in.
If the other cities and rural communities were considered to be part of Haiti, our governments would have understood that their inhabitants need education beyond secondary school and for many beyond primary school, and for yet others, they need to learn to read and write as well as healthcare, support for their economy etc... If each department had a functional airport, roads that interconnect them, public universities, trade school; If each city had a great hospital, a well formed and equipped fire department, a great police department; each section communale had a community health center, great schools, municipal banks, most people would have chosen to stay home. If these things existed, less people would have been under the rubble in Port-au-Prince, more than 130s would have been pulled alive, less amputations would have been necessary because help would have reached the affected people faster and it would have been more effective.
But for a lot of people had to leave their communities to go to Port-au-Prince and for many who "choose" to leave their area of origin and go live to cramped housing in Port-au-Prince, there is no real choice for the choice is between staying home and living in the same conditions their grand fathers were living or going to Port-au-Prince to try getting a better education to build a better future. Although in Port-au-Prince, the better future is not certain but at least, they'll die trying for "toutotan tèt poko koupe, li espere met chapo". But if they choose to stay lakay "andeyò", they are considered literally outside of the country where the reality is well painted by Steve Brunache "Kou wè tande kòk chante, senkè di maten rive, pran dyakout pou al nan jaden. Pandan ke si yo pa travay la tè manje gen dwa pa janm desann lavil, yo menm yo toujou mache pye atè ak pantalon bouda chire, pitit yo pa kab al lekòl."
I was born in Léogane and I grew up there. To be more precise, I'll say that I am from "pays d'Haiti, département de l'Ouest, arrondissement de Léogane, commune de Léogane, 3eme section communale: Grande Rivière de Léogane, habitation Matthieu". I am from the most andeyò of the andeyò's, or may be not the most for I am from the plain area and will not be called moun mòn by those who know my andeyò area. But who really knows it? Moun mòn would probably be used for my fellow léoganais who are from the "10 sections communales" in the mountain; Dessources, Petite Rivière and Grande Rivière are in the plain and can benefit from the services at the city. But which city and which services?
Is Léogane really part of Haiti? The Duvaliers caused so much trouble to Haiti but at least the father did one good thing: she married a Léogane woman. Because of Simone, we finally had a lycée in 1976, year 172nd of our independence. Because of her, we had a bunch of public primary schools not only in our plain andeyò but also in our mountain andeyò. Because of Aristide in 1991, just before the coup d'etat, we had a PM session in the Lycée. Thanks to that lycée, I was able to get a secondary education without leaving for Port-au-Prince. But I remember how early I had to go just to find a seat and how much we fought for seats. I entered the lycée as part of a class of 250. The 250 students were not just from Léogane but also from Gressier, another forgotten commune andeyò, whose students have to travel either to Léogane, Carrefour (1 lycée) or Port-au-Prince. 250 students from Leogane, a big commune, and Gressier.
Is Léogane part of the country? It took the Episcopal church and the dedication of "père Thevenot" to give us a hospital, not a public hospital. When it becomes dysfunctional, we went back to being a city with no hospital. We are called "chef lieu d'arrondissement" but we have to go to Petit-Goave to take care of many things because that's where the government presence is.
Is Léogane part of the country? We have been crying for so long about the danger of Momance and Rouyonne, our two rivers, which again and again, take our lives, our houses, our crops but no one, absolutely no one hears.
Is Léogane part of the country? In 1994, it took a great week for the government to bring tank of water when we had no running water after the storm Gordon. I was there. I know and I know what it means to lose everything as a result of a natural disaster. One year after the flood of 2008, there was still no running water.
Is Léogane part of the country? it takes at least 5 days for help (journalists) to reach part of the city after the earthquake whose epicenter was right in our place. It takes one week for real help (Doctors Without Borders and UN) to reach the part of the city that was covered in the news. It takes two weeks for help (food and water and tent) to reach some people in the rest of the plain outside of the proper city. Who knows when help will reach the people in the mòn area, where mountain tops have caved in (with or on top of houses)? Maybe never? Because they are the most andeyò of the andeyò's.
Along those forgotten andeyò people who may never get help, there are those who are right where distributions are being done but who are skipped because they do not "behave", they are not lucky, the line was too long, they are not good "friends" of the local organizers, they are not members of the churches helping with distribution, they do not "respect" the authorities doing the distributions or they are to hungry to be able to stand for many hours or too weak to be able to carry their goods.
Someone referred to Léogane as "les îles turques d'Haiti" but the reality is that many other places which are part of the 27,750 squared kilometers are just like Léogane, in Haiti but completely andeyò. Gressier is just one other example and I could list about so many others.
But we are now at a corner where we have to make a decision. We can no longer afford to continue that way. We need infrastructures throughout the country. We can't depend on the international community to come to our rescue every time disaster strikes. It will take sometime for them to come and matter will just be worse by the time they reach us. We can't keep blaming them either for our problems. We need to start acting responsibly. Other people keep meddling in our internal affairs only because we let them, only because we act as if we like what they offer us more than we like ourselves and our country.
It is time for us to stand up and start organizing ourselves to build an effective state that will be proper and fair to us all.
Posted: Fri Jan 29, 2010 5:26 pm
By the way, do you know why more blan who do not speak Kreyol are currently helping in Haiti? Because we are not organized enough and we have to depend on the blan to give us a free ride to Haiti and we have to volunteer through their organizations.
Posted: Fri Jan 29, 2010 10:23 pm
Thank you for your heartfelt sharing. I think of you and Leogane often. I was just in Mexico City (they love us there. They had a devastating quake in 1985, so they know the pain) fundraising for our small mission in Haiti to take more orphans in our home in Miragoane which miraculously is still standing. While there, I specifically mentioned to them the needs in Leogane which was forgotten or ignored.
By the way, we are still opened to help more orphans if you know of any from your area.
God bless you.
How can we organize better? Who will take the initiatives? It needs to start with me. Not just the single me but all the "me's" from Haiti.
Posted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 1:00 pm
Shelony, you offered us some great reflections! I will be sharing them with others. You asked a lot of pertinent questions that should be answered not only by the government but by all who have been neglecting the development of the country without which is now home again to its prodigal sons, at least those from the county within (not the country dyaspo) who still have a country without to return to.
Thank you so much, Shelony. I truly missed your presence here for a long, long time.
Posted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:35 pm
Thanks for your concerns and mentioning us in new Mexico. I am glad that the orphanage was not affected. Orphans already experience so much that they can't comprehend and then to have to go through that experience is really hard. I know there are many orphans in Port-au-Prince who were not so lucky but I just feel that I should thank God that there were some who were spared that experience.
As I am writing this, I am thinking about an orphanage run by a catholic group. I think it is called "La Sainte Famille" and is situated on a road called "route de Sigueneau" in an area called "Ti Basen" in Leogane (grande Riviere de Leogane", I don't know if it still stands and what happens to the children there. Next time I talk to my family, I'll ask them if they have any idea.
As of now, I do not know specifically of any orphan made by this earthquake. I am sure there are, because according to BBC, here are between 5000-10000 dead in Leogane whereas AFP talked about 30000. With such high number, there is no doubt that some kids will lose their parents but the people I specifically know who died or are missing, do not leave children who would be in need of orphanage. But if I find that someone may need the help, I'll let you know and I thank you for offering your help.
You asked a question that you correctly answered later and I command you because you already started the work. Continue with what you are doing because you are helping Haiti future.
Great work, brother!
Posted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 11:08 pm
There are some other important questions that your remark help raise. One of them is how long will the prodigal sons be able to last in the country without, to use your expression? If they choose to stay and organize themselves to develop their area, will they benefit from the government support? Or, will they be waiting for the first sign of reconstruction in Port-au-Prince to go back because of the precarious condition in the countryside?
I wanted to refer to what I heard from some people I talked to about the mountain area of Leogane. There is an area called La Colline near Deslandes and several members of my home church in Matthieu come from there and I am told by one of my neighbors who goes to that church that many of the mountains fell with the houses or on the houses and that empty spaces are seen where mountains once stood. Some other tales about areas in Faillete, Janjan, and Ti Boucan (where "Grotte Anacaona" is) are about very deep space where mountain was before the earthquake. It is difficult to verify since no journalist or government official care enough to go see these far away places but if those tales are true, these people will most likely left to fend for themselves because they are not from the country whithin.
Posted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 11:13 pm
For all who can spare some time, please read the blog of a US medical team who were providing care at "L'Hopital General" the past week.
Go to http://heart.med.nyu.edu/
I am particularly moved by "my perspective" written by Dr. Feldman of NYU
Posted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 3:38 am
Shelony, that story of the mountains disappearance is extremely difficult to believe. At least from my point of view. I never heard of such thing.
To answer the question you asked me about how long it will take the prodigal sons to go back to the country within (la République de Port-au-Prince), I think, just as you, "as soon as the wind changes". Especially if Bill Clinton continues to stay in Port-au-Prince and speak only to factory owners, and feel bound to attract non-sustaining industries to the Port-au-Prince area, I truly wish that some Haiti-centric leadership would prevail and that Haitian governments would stop inviting "blans" to dictate their future. Any real plan for Haiti should consider equitably (not equally) all nine departments (how do they justify 9?), meaning the entire territory, including La Gonave and La Tortue. It should also be designed with the view of attracting back our Haitian brothers from the Dominican Republic, as soon as that will be feasible. To go back to create jobs in Port-au-Prince alone would meet Einstein's definition of insanity: making the same mistake over and over, while expecting different results.
Posted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 10:06 am
Guy, did you mean 10 departments (Nippes)?
I am happy to announce that I will be able, God willing, to see things with my own eyes this upcoming week in Haiti. Pray for me friends.
Posted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:19 am
Tayi, I thought the tenth department was the diaspora. You mean, we are the 11th department now?
I know about Nippes, of course. But the "10th department", a theoretical concept embracing all Haitians in the diaspora, still rings in my head, so that's why I defulted by subtracting one from 10. I still do not understand the departmental breakdown though. I am seriously in favor of decentralization. But does this administrative/departmental breakdown make any sense?
I am particularly suspicious about Nippes. How big is that region? Is it bigger than La Gonave? Sorry to betray my ignorance.
I don't want Frantz to start with "the Department of Port-à-Piment", you know what I mean?
Finally, Tayi, please do not completely disappear for months again, if at all you can help it. I so would like to join you.
Posted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:07 pm
You'll be in my prayer, Tayi and when you come back, let us know about what you see and experience.
What I understood from what I was told by the people is that for some places, the hill tops fell down with or on houses depending on where the houses were in relationship to the hills (La Colline area). For other places particularly Tiboucan and Janjan, people are talking about something like a visible split between two parts of the earth (seen at the surface and very very deep). Please understand that the people I talked to are not eyewitnesses but are merely talking about what they heard from other people.
Life of the people on the mountains were always tough, very tough and will be even tougher as a result of the earthquake and that for many reasons, one of them is that there is Port-au-Prince to reconstruct.
Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:10 am
Shelony, thanks for the explanations. I fully understand now. If you ever obtain pictures of those mountain tops, now depressed, before and after the earthquake, that would be a powerful testimony to the fury of the elements. I hope that you will share them with us.
I feel very sorry about Leogane, which I did not know well, but is a section of the country that has sheltered some gentle but great people. You and your sister (on this forum) seem to reflect those traditions.
Sadly, I read today that some Haitians have started going back to Port-au-Prince from the provinces that they reached just a few days ago. What is driving them back is the same thing that brought them there originally, hope for a job. This happens to be a universal drive, not at all unique to Haiti, but I wonder if those in charge of our national economy will finally draw the right lessons. Port-au-Prince is not Haiti and Haiti is not Port-au-Prince.
Posted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:40 am
It will take years to rebuild Haiti. And even that would be wildly optimistic. It will take a whole new generation of builders of every discipline under able leadership to bring the country back to the sort of respectability that precludes anyone's pity. The question of how long it will take is not even relevant. The real question that Haitians face at this point is whether or not we can take one step forward and THEN take ANOTHER STEP forward.
There are wars of high intensity and those of low intensity. The high intensity wars may be more winnable in spite of long odds because the enemies are visible, distinct, and easily identifiable. To fight the low intensity wars require more discernment, more education, a deeper ideological commitment.
Our enemies are neither the Haitian elites, nor the White race, nor the mulatto class; nor Western Europe, nor the U.S.A. Our main enemy is the general miseducation of our elites that leads them to forge certain coalitions that prey cynically on the poverty of the majority of Haitians. It will take broad coalitions of Haitians of every class and hue to band together and reject the facile solutions that are already being proposed to rebuild along the same lines of discrimination that existed before the earthquake. I have no interest in participating in the reconstruction of an unfair, unjust, unproductive, unimaginative, and unethical society where vast numbers are treated as subhuman, regardless of the beauty of its palaces and cathedrals.
If ever there was a time for Haitians to take a breather, stop and think before spreading out even more divisiveness, this is it. We cannot afford to fail this time or it will truly mean the end of our bicentennial dream of forging a free and fair nation, at least as far as our current generations are concerned
Posted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 2:47 pm
If you could run for office, I would vote for you.
Posted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 2:51 pm
Pa di sa non monchè. Te gen yon nèg sou fowòm lan ki te panse mwen gen anbisyon sa epi li te deja ap file manchèt li pou mwen. Mwen pa tande l lontan. Petèt l ap file manchèt li toujou.
Posted: Sat Feb 20, 2010 11:48 am
To Shelony: About what happened to the mountain(s) surrounding Leogane. I was hoping to get a picture to get a better grasp of what you had heard and exactly what had happened in a physical way to the top of the mountain(s) when it/they caved in. It was very difficult for me to visualize this (what happened to the mass of earth that was there? -- did it fall in in some hitherto unknown cave of considerable proportions). I am still hoping that you will share some pictures with us of those mountains when you get them. However, I just read a very interesting article about a mountain bordering Grand Goave and it sounds similar to what you were describing concerning Leogane's mountain(s). However, in this example, a new danger is emerging: the cavity in question has filled up with water even before the rainy season. When it does come will whatever remains of Grand Goave get washed away?
What about Leogane? Is there a similar situation over there? Is a new disaster in the offing?
http://www.cyberpresse.ca/international ... -goave.php
Sheila and Rose, my heart is with you! I can well envision your extraordinary loss...
Posted: Sun Feb 21, 2010 6:49 pm
Thanks for sharing the Grand-Goave picture with us Guy. Looking at pictures like that one brings lots of emotions. I do not have any picture of the mountains of Leogane. In about a month, I will go to Leogane to see some of the destructions myself but I am not sure how much I will be able to see as my visit will be brief but I will make sure that I get to at least the area called "La Colline" as it is not too far and I know many people who live there (from my church).
In terms of danger to Leogane's plain, I hope I can visit or at least inquire about the "La Porte area", an irrigation system built under president Paul Magloire and which is very important not only to ensure proper distribution of "La Momance" water in the plain for agriculture but also to prevent flooding in a great part of the plain when it is storm and hurricane season. It's old and the frame of the different iron gates are supported by cemented structures just like the destroyed houses. When I talk to family, I always forget to ask if anyone knows what happen there and that is important because the rainy season is soon to start. I read in "Le Nouvelliste" that the UN was paying 600 people to clean the irrigation canals which were damaged by the quake to prevent loss of the beans in the plain of Leogane. I hope that they go all the way up there and that the plan includes fixing any potential damage to the gate system.
Also, I knew that Leogane did not have running water for several months after the pipe system was affected by the storms and flooding of 2008. What I did not know is that Grande Riviere de Leogane was still waiting for running water since that time (summer 2008). Grande Riviere de Leogane water is separate from the one which goes to the city although they come from exactly the same place (source Verdier) and run side by side until at least after they cross "La Momance" and when one is affected by flooding, the other one is almost always affected. Now I am asking if the city and other places like Nan Bassen, Darbonne, Sarbousse, Santo and Fonssable were also without water (their water came from the other parallel system). Now that there are other priorities, will we ever have water back? Why do we have to go for more than a year (summer 2008-January 2010) without clean water? Why despite knowing the importance of clean water in preventing diarrhea that can kill so many children (Ya di se lougarou kap manje yo) that a population is forced to revert to using water from the river? Why can't we do something to minimize the consequences of something that happen almost every year?
Yes, almost on a yearly basis, there is a season where it rains so much or there are big storms that wash our bare mountains into our rivers and with a river like Momance which brings so many big rocks and God knows what, it very often ends up messing up with the clean water pipe system. I understand that when it happens, we have to wait until it stops raining and the water recedes to start working on reestablishing the system. I understand that part pretty well.
What I don't understand is why this time, rainy season comes and goes and we still don't have water. I also do not understand why the authority acts as if it impossible to prevent the problem in the first place. Is Momance special in any way? Is there no expertise in Haiti for running plombing under a river? Why it has to be redone over and over again because of the same type of failure? I don't understand that. That is not my area of expertise but please, do not tell me that it is impossible to do a better job. Also my family and many other "lucky" families in Grande Riviere de Leogane have been buying clean water for drinking since summer 2008 (with money they could use for something else) but also since then, they have been using water from Momance not only for bathing but also for cooking. OK "yo fouye sous nan sab rivyE ya pou yo pran dlo pou yo fE manje men tanpri, pa dim dlo sa prOp". And I am asking myself why they have to do that. Why that they have to do something that they thought they were over well in the late 1970s, early 1980s? Why? I really do not get it. Are we not in 2010? I do not see myself bathing with the river water and now I am told that my food will be cooked with it when I go there? I do not understand why and I really wish someone could explain it to me. Please do not think I am selfish because I truly believe that no one should be forced to use that water for anything other than irrigation. And the sad thing is that I am pretty sure that there are people who can't buy water and who will therefore depend on the river for everything including...
Posted: Sun Feb 21, 2010 10:15 pm
Mwen te fin abitye ak Shelony, kounyè a ou chanje l nan Sheloly.
Mwen konprann, se LONI ou pa renmen, kijan se yon fason w ap mande pou yo bat dèyè yo, pa vre?
Very nice and informative post, by the way. I relate to your concerns. I have had some of the same for many, many years regarding the river in Saint Raphaël, not too far from Dondon (if you remember La Géographie d'Haiti). [Mwen konnen se pa moun nò ou ye.]
Posted: Sun Feb 21, 2010 11:31 pm
I am sure I would not have made the same mistake if I was writing Shella. Non prete vre! Anyway LONI tounen LOLI lontan paske gen you lot "UNITED" ki pa pran l pou po patat.
Posted: Sun Feb 21, 2010 11:39 pm
As for the river in St Raphael, not surprising that the situation was similar for many years. We never learn to prevent anything. In 4 years, we have Gonaives I and Gonaives II with nothing done in between to lessen the consequences of Gonaives II and after Gonaives II, things may continue to be the same. Very sad.
Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 2:08 am
Rebuild? You have to start with the institutions of government. You have to have one. There is currently NO functioning government in Haiti except those remaining in some official capacity who are looking to profit from the crisis. I've been there and unless you're a MAJOR contributor or affiliated with one of the contractors supported by the US state department or some other countries state department you can't get even a simple import permit for donated supplies without a large bribe.
I am also very disappointed in the Caribbean and African response to the quake. I saw no black brethren show up to help except for a small number of Haitien diaspora, it was blanc and more blanc. The blanc were the first responders, most of them without government sponsorship or support. It was only later the money makers and military came in.
So, I don't want to hear any more bitching about how the white countries have manipulated or taken over Haiti. Once more in Haiti's greatest hour of need Haiti was abandoned by the Caribbean countries, the African nations and Haiti's own elected officials. The entire Haitian government, which on a good day was parasitic, has now given up the country completely though some of them will doubtless become relatively wealthy in the earthquake aftermath.
I expect the Haitien people will survive but be no better off than before.
I make no excuse for my attitude, it's born of experience.
Earthquake aftermath frustrates area doctor
Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 1:45 pm
http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/s ... D7000A5EC9
Earthquake aftermath frustrates area doctor
BY DOUG MOORE
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
ST. LOUIS — The earthquake in Haiti earlier this year had unexpected consequences for Dr. Patricia Wolff and her nonprofit Meds & Food for Kids.
The young organization had toiled mostly outside the spotlight for six years in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Suddenly, there was great interest in what she was doing. People wanted to help survivors of one of the world's greatest disasters.
The latest example: Nestlé announced this week it would donate almost $280,000 to Meds & Food. That is more than half of the nonprofit's annual operating budget.
Wolff stresses that she is grateful for the financial support from Nestlé and others. Without it, the nonprofit would not be able to operate. But she is using the newfound interest in Meds & Food to express frustration with a system she said is not working effectively in Haiti.
The ultimate goal of any effort, she said, should be to make the country independent. But she sees most efforts, both pre- and postearthquake, as focusing on rescuing instead of sustaining.
"Poverty is a business. If they resolve things in Haiti, what business will they be in?" said Wolff, referring to agencies that have a large presence there and companies that provide goods and service for a country largely dependent on others.
"How long is this country going to be like this? It's going to be like this forever unless we start doing development in a serious way. I'm not at all confident that the earthquake response is going to go anywhere but rescue."
Wolff, a professor of clinical pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine, returned Sunday from six weeks in Haiti, a country she has spent nearly half her time in over the past six years. Her frustration comes at a pivotal time for the nonprofit. Before the earthquake, Meds & Food had began raising $1.5 million for a new factory in Haiti. The nonprofit currently produces its Medika Mamba, a fortified peanut butter-like food, out of space it rents in a home in Cap-Haitien, about 150 miles north of the destruction in Port-au-Prince.
Building a factory will give the nonprofit a permanent home — the rented space is its fifth location — and the ability to make more Medika Mamba, which helps fight acute malnutrition, a leading killer of children in Haiti. Most importantly, she said, it will allow more Haitians to learn how to grow, produce and distribute food.
Wolff wants agencies that are supplying food to Haitians to focus on buying goods locally, including from Meds & Food. Jobs create revenue, helping families get better health care and education.
But she's having a hard time so far.
Larger for-profit companies in the U.S., France and the Dominican Republic sell similar products, known internationally as ready-to-use-therapeutic-food, or RUTF. The product is in great demand in Third World countries because no water or heat source is needed to eat it.
The ready-to-eat foods are usually cheaper and available in larger quantities from for-profit companies. That is appealing to the big support systems in the country such as the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Before the Jan. 12 earthquake, 3,000 nongovernment organizations had registered with the United Nations as working in Haiti. Since then, another 900 or so have registered, said Moira Whelan, a spokeswoman for USAID. UNICEF puts that number closer to 1,100.
Whelan said that USAID has the same mission as Wolff, but the earthquake brought thousands of organizations with various priorities together at once creating overwhelming challenges.
"In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, it was about lifesaving, but now it is life-sustaining operations. Everything we do is put into long-term development."
For small nonprofits such as Meds & Food, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle, Whelan said.
"It's a big tent and it can be challenging," Whelan said. Organizations have to aggressively sell themselves, show the value they are providing "so it can be exploited." Whelan said she was unfamiliar with Meds & Food, is new to USAID and did not know why the agency has been resistant in the past to work with Wolff.
"The message I'd send is we'd very much like their involvement."
Christopher de Bono of UNICEF said bringing the hundreds of nongovernment organizations to the table, "all with their own priorities, is a major chore."
He said Wolff's nonprofit is a welcome fit in the efforts to sustain Haiti's independence.
"In other countries, we've cajoled people into setting up factories that produce such (foods)," de Bono said. In Haiti, that is no different.
"We've been pushing for local production. She's doing a great thing," he said. Wolff's challenge, like many small nonprofits, is getting to the people who are buying.
And for groups such as UNICEF, it's getting a clear understanding of who does what and how to make it best fit into the big picture. Especially right after a disaster.
"Otherwise you have 40 million blankets and no food and all the same people are getting the blankets while a mile away people are freezing," de Bono said.
Wolff, 62, said she is hopeful that organizations in the market for ready-to-eat foods will show as much interest in her nonprofit as those who have stepped forward recently to help out financially.
"Our work has come to be in the front of more people's brains than before, and this exposure has helped us a lot," Wolff said. "People we had been talking with for five years, big companies, have actually stepped up and taken notice and felt it was in their own best interest to get out there and be philanthropic in a public way."
For that, Wolff is thankful. But she said it's hard for her to be happy considering it took an earthquake that killed an estimated 200,000 to get people interested in what she is doing in Haiti.
"There's so many good causes in the world, it's hard to get traction," she said.
Wolff heads back to Haiti March 7. She will spend a few more weeks there, eventually getting back to a schedule of alternating three weeks there and three weeks in St. Louis. It's her idea of a normal schedule.
Wolff said she wants the factory built in two years. More importantly, she wants the culture of Haiti to be one of independence, and for malnutrition no longer to be a leading cause of death among children.