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Distributing food in Haiti--a question

Posted: Sat Aug 16, 2008 1:45 pm
by Barb
I will post this, since it seems all is quiet on the Haiti board, and August is slow news month.

I've been supporting an orphanage in Les Cayes for several years. It is run by a Catholic priest named Father Marc Boisvert who is a former US Navy chaplain. They bought land and have been raising money bit by bit to build housing, classrooms, kitchens, etc etc etc. He has a blog and posts picture every couple of days.

This summer there were also blogs by two recent US college graduates doing volunteer internships in public health at the orphanage before going back to the US to begin medical school. The blogs have been most lively and not particularly "discreet" in their blasting of corruption in the practice of medicine in Haiti. There are about 600 children involved in the program and from what I can read, most have families but are attending because they get meals, a place to live, some health care and an education--they go home for holidays, etc. Some, of course, do not. I don't hear that he is adopting anyone out. It is mostly boys.

Where my questions come up is about a month ago, pictures appeared of a new warehouse being built on the property to distribute food. Through a joint program of Catholic Relief Services and (and this is where I get nervous) USAID, they will be storing and delivering dry food (such as rice and beans) to 800 families for a year. THe building is being built by local labor--skilled masons, etc will be paid and unskilled labor will receive in- kind food donations for their work.

So my question is...Is this a good thing? Is this a bad thing? Does this breed further dependence and destroy the fabric of society, or is it a badly needed help for people who are starving? Has the program I support sold out to the imperialists or is it remaining true to its mission to help the poor?

The project is deeply involved in giving the students skills to be able to earn a living when they graduate. The goal is to produce young people with the education and independence to be able to take care of themselves and their families. I do not believe that the goal is to subjugate the Haitiens and make them more dependant on the US, but I may be wrong. It may be on a much deeper and larger level, this is what is happening. What is involved in "helping the poor?" and should one be doing it? Is it even any of my business?

Posted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 11:48 am
by Serge

I am only now reading your message and I also share your concern. This is a real dilemma because there is a food emergency in Haiti. We are already so deeply dependant on everything, from food to the budget, to financing elections, that, as someone was saying in Haiti, we are forced to "bouche nen nou, bwè dlo sal la". The problem arises when , because of a lack of gouvernance, leadership, our leaders seem to get complacent...until the next crisis.

I wish I could be more optimistic, but I am afraid that because of the lack of consciousness of our leaders, we may be heading towards a much more serious crisis than that of last April. Things will be much more dramatic and Lord knows where it will end.

I would encourage you to continue helping despite your anguish, because it is hard to witness this kind of suffering and remain indifferent. But I understand the frustration, as many others do, I am sure.


Posted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:04 pm
by Dr Roger Malebranche
Hi Barb :
I just read your entry and Serge's comments. The Haitian problem is getting more and more complex and I am to the point of giving up the fight except that we have suffering human beings and it is hard, as a believer in a supreme Being who created us all, to totally turn our back on brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Haiti can use all the help She can get but as you bring up yourself the matter of dependence and complacency creeps up. Our politicians know that international help. the diaspora and people like Barb will forever rise to the occasion. Then they have nothing to do except jockeying for positions and filling their pockets.
I know that Cayes area very well and when I left Haiti in 1961 it was one of the most fertile agricultural regions in the country. At that time Haiti was able to feed her children adequately.
Under Duvalier our population exploded, there was a migration of campaign to cities ( encouraged by Duvalier ), the prosperous Haitian agriculture died and the country is now in free fall.
In order to address the Haitian problems we should probably start at the top, clean the cesspool and adopt a policy of Sink or Swim ( despite my strong aversion to such plan ). Remember the old adage : Give a hungry man a fish and every day you have to give him fishes. Give him a fishing rod and teach him how to fish and he has a future. When I left Haiti in 1961 the country was self sufficient. Today we have international aid, Diaspora, dozens of charitable institutions, Minustah etc... and things are worse. What are we doing wrong ?
What would you suggest ?

Posted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 6:58 pm
by Gelin_
I think it's important to help feed the poor and the hungry whenever possible, but the fact of the matter is Haiti's survival depends on a sustained agricultural production. The workers would be better off with their money than a bag of rice.


Posted: Sat Aug 23, 2008 8:54 am
by Dr Roger Malebranche
Living upstate NY I have always been impressed by the lushness and the beauty of the area, the verdoyant farms, the cattle etc... A lot of that agricultural land recently fell prey to money loving developers and soon vast swaths of land were lost, with accumulation of box-like residences. With the blessings of bought out politicians.

Recently we have had an influx of AMISH and they have bought a lot of the not yet developed lands, managing to reverse the trend. I am seeing now many lovely farms and a bunch of people living a simple, hard working, productive life. I have been impressed by that group.
Could we invite some Amish folks to move to Haiti ?

Kidding apart, Haitian politicians are not different from politicians all over the world. Except for Leslie Manigat (who was a number of years in front of me at Saint Louis de Gonzague) politicians are not known for their keen intelligence. Bright people in general shun the political arena.
The difference between the USA and Haiti is that Haiti did not have much to start with and Haitian politicians ran out of resources much faster than the big, rich, enormous American continent.

Give Haiti money and it ends up in politicians' pockets. It does not seem to matter who is in charge. Give Haiti food, other necessities and the politicians manage to sell them or they let them spoil if selling is not an option. The answer becomes clear then. There is something rotten at the top and we should strive to change the Haitian political system. I would not mind having a group or older, well to do ( they would not be after the money), well educated, proud, well traveled Haitians at the top, trying to right the course of the Haitian ship, PLUS some Amish families.

Truly it is a catch 22. Perhaps we should turn the clock back and start all over again.

Posted: Sat Aug 23, 2008 10:19 am
by Gelin_
[quote]...Give Haiti money and it ends up in politicians' pockets...[/quote]
"Ou pa dwe met mimi veye lèt", we all know that. But I was trying to say that it would make much more sense to pay the workers with money for the work they performed, and not with rice or bean. The reality is that most of these people as small farmers who would love to have access to inputs necessary for their agricultural production systems. Paying them with rice and bean will simply move them far away from their small farms with very little chance of a return. Imagine the long term consequences...


One problem

Posted: Sat Aug 23, 2008 1:50 pm
by Leoneljb
Well there's a problem here. One Politician alone can not change a Country of about ten millions. It will take more than that.
Also, in reference to L Manigat. He could have been a Great Guy. But, He failed miserably. First, by associating with PanzouyE like Namphy et Co. Secondly, I would say his lack of Relating with People. This Man was the Epitome of arrogance. One could not communicate with Him... Personally, He was a failure ,for thinking that he was the Brightest Haitian living!
Also, I won't agree that giving the command to Older People. For, they were the ones responsible for Duvalier et al.
I woud rather take someone from "la Classe Bourgeoise" with a conscience.
D'ailleurs, it's been proven that Great Revolutionaries came from the upper classes. LE ou pran oun moun anba, li pa konn touche gwo kOb, mon chE tout bagay egare'l (grimEl, Fanm blanch ak lajan).
My two cents.

Posted: Sat Aug 23, 2008 10:10 pm
by Barb
Correct me if I am wrong. Rene Preval was elected over the strenuous objections of the "big eaters" who pulled all sorts of creative ballot counting manouvers to try to derail the majority and in the end only admitted under pressure to a 51% majority for him. Preval was considered to be the next best choice after Aristide (the democratically elected President who had been removed from the country by a special charter flight some time before by a country vowing to preserve and support Democracy movements around the world.) Preval campaigned as someone who was interested in making things better for the majority of Haitians. However, since he has been in office, as far as I can tell, absolutely nothing has happened.

I am really not at all clear on what the Haitian government actually does. I did get to see the footage on ABC of the government official indignantly declaring that the individuals promising to sell a child to the American journalist were breaking the law and would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law..and then absolutely nothing happened. I have watched from afar as Jean-Juste has made his slow and painful transition from being a prisoner to being an ex-patriot and having the charges of murder dropped against him. (charges brought because, if I am correct, the opinion of the mob carries weight in French law???) I have seen a prime minister dismissed because of food riots and then watched the very long and slow process of finding a successor and attempting to destroy her reputation through sexual innuendo before she was approved. This is all rather baffling to me.

So can anyone explain to a naive outsider what the purpose of the Haitian government is and what it actually accomplishes?

Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 6:01 am
by Guysanto
Barb, you are very perceptive. Good observations and great question!


Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 9:57 am
by Dr Roger Malebranche
Good morning Barb :
Apparently we have a consensus or perhaps we don't have a consensus.
Leonel has it in for OLD people. Duvalier left a sour taste in his mouth. I can see his point but Mandela, Pope John, Ghandi and the Dalai Lama were or are old but are also respected people. As for youth it seems that every time we place young but poor people at the helm they get side tracked with issues like getting rich as quickly as they can and keeping in power as long as they can.
As you have astutely observed, Haitian politicians know nothing and do nothing most of the time.
The national sport is emptying the coffers. Like Nero in regard to Rome our politicians fiddle while Port au Prince burns. What could we offer as solutions ?
1) Dissolution of the Haitian present form of goverment. It is not working and quite dysfunctional.
2) Creation of a council of elders drawn mostly from well to do and savvy Haitian intelligencia. Not one Elder, a council of Elders. After 200 plus years of ineffective presidents we should try something else.
3) Creation of a council of Young intellectuals (like in Cuba), which would counterbalance the council of elders and mature to be integrated into that council of elders themselves as the years go by.
4) Send only our best minds abroad to represent the country in our foreign embassies which deal with the rest of the world .
5) Make life hard for kidnappers and killers by reinstituting the death penalty. They have already reinstituted it for their victims.
6) A tourist council. Haiti needs tourism and tourism needs Haiti.
7) A small business council with the job of attracting small businesses all over the countryside, leading to an end to big cities centralization.
8) A birth control Board. We need this one BAD.
9) A fishery and wild game overseeing group.
10) And most importantly an agricultural committee composed of the best farmers, agronomes and livestock Haitian specialists.
I believe that if ALL Haitians hold hands and do their part the country will emerge from the tomb. But again I have always been an optimist and dreamer ( LIKE ALL HAITIANS ).

Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 10:13 am
by Guysanto
[quote]As you have astutely observed, Haitian politicians know nothing and do nothing most of the time. [/quote]
Did she say that?

Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 10:43 am
by Guysanto
I have a few questions:
a) in what manner would the present form of government be dissolved?
b) who would be tasked with creating all those councils and boards?
c) what would prevent those councils and boards from being just as incompetent as current government bureaucracies?

I am casting no stone.

Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 4:36 pm
by Dr Roger Malebranche
Perhaps I did not quote Barb to the dot on the "e" but she seems to have a good reading on the Haitian psyche. Perhaps she was Haitian in a former life. You never know.
I was just thinking about things that could be done to retrieve Haiti and tossing thoughts into the wind. Nobody said that it would be a stroll in the park. I would pass the "doing" work and the rewards to the young and younger generations. Again just thinking. We have to start somewhere , sometime. Rome was not built in one day and I don't expect the redemption of Haiti to be accomplished in one day either. Or should we keep following the same beaten to death path ?

Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 7:24 pm
by Serge
Roger kouman w ye?

Of all the suggestions you have made I woud consider totally feasible Nos. 4, 6, 7, 8 , 9 and 10. Guy's questions are exactly why it would be extremely dangerous to proceed along the lines you suggest in the other suggestions.


Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 8:34 pm
by Guysanto
Doc, I asked the questions without malice. As they say, Hell is paved with good intentions. In all prescriptions for Haiti, you have to carefully consider a method of action. If not, the prescriptions will either stay at the level of mere wishes, with nary a chance of ever being implemented, or worse they may lend to actions that would lead the country to a state worse than the status quo.

Ask yourself where our relatively recent experimentation with democracy led us. Was it truly for the lack of good intentions or perhaps for not planning well enough the ABC's of our democratization?

Don't need to be offended. Hard questions must always be asked. We are NOT following the same "beaten to death path". We have tried to change a lot, but that in itself is not enough...

Anyway, it's up to each one of you to take my questions seriously or not, or perhaps give them a different interpretation than intended.


Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 8:07 pm
by Dr Roger Malebranche
" One politician alone cannot change a country of about 10.000.000. It will take more than that " ( Leonel ).
" I am really not at all clear on what the Haitian government actually does so can anyone explain to a naive outsider what the purpose of the Haitian government is and what it really accomplishes ". ( Barb ).
" Barb you are very perceptive. Good question " ( Guy ).
If I had asked the same question I would have been taken to the woodshed by fellow ANNPALEERS. But again my countrymen have always been impeccable gentlemen and hard questions are more palatable when they come from a non Haitian.
Thanks for asking that question Barb. The next one should be : " What do Haitians, local and Diasporeic plan to do about this non working government ? I tossed a few ideas into the arena but except for Serge no one has tried to discuss them, dissect them or elaborate on them.
The presidential system over 200 plus years has been dear to Haitian hearts but Haiti has never benefited from it. We strive to place ONE guy, one idol on the pedestal, often an ambitious soldier or a glib " promise them anything " shyster. As soon as the CHOSEN ONE ascends the throne he starts killing, pillaging, tries to hold forever onto power and rewards families and friends with the spoils of his position. In other words Haitian presidents have a way to behave like the pirates of olden days. No more, no less.
But Haitians have themselves to blame also. They hang on to their man
and find excuses and reasons to explain and whitewash his excesses while he is in power and even when he is no longer in power. The American saying : " He ain't heavy, he's ma brother " should be the Haitian national anthem. They also want their shares of the spoils. A classical Haitian lament is : " I voted for the bum and he did not do anything for me. He did not even give me a little job".
Guy asks in his professoral way who is going to change our form of government and I will remind him that under the presidential form we have had the American occupation of the 30s and today we have the ipso facto "world" occupation (Minustah).
We don't have an army. We don't have anything. We are a free country only by name and permission. Our present government is a disgrace. If Aristide was booted out despite his enormous popularity what do you think would happen if our " lords and masters " just change today's format ? Why not just bring the point up to them and ask them to do it ? I am sure they would be happy to see Haiti finally off their collective backs.
I apologize for sounding bitter but the years are flying and I am bitter.

Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 10:56 pm
by Serge
Doc, indeed, I can feel your bitterness. All I can say is that you are not alone in feeling this way. That is a reality.

However, as regards your question " What do Haitians, local and Diasporeic plan to do about this non working government ?", I am not sure what kind of answer you expect, except that the only way to change the Gvt. is for the people to wait for the next election and do the right thing. You see, I believe that in order for democracy to really take roots, you need to practice, practice and and even practice more. The best way to do that is to get into one democratic transition to another. With each election, the democratic process is strengthened, and that is how people learn and it becomes automatic for them to think in terms of this process. Unfortunaltely in Haiti, we have never been able to put together such a string of democratic transitions. Where it not for the coup d'état of 1991, w would have had 4 straight democratic transitions, but, our incompetent political class, shamelessly allied with their foreign supporters, thought otherwise and brought everything down, to the detriment of the country.

We do not have any choice but to go the democratic route, , the election route, for the simple reason that there is no other realistic way.

[quote]A classical Haitian lament is : " I voted for the bum and he did not do anything for me. He did not even give me a little job".[/quote]

I submit to you that this comment is not only haitian, it is pretty universal. Ask the victims of Katrina and you will probably get the same answer in regards Bush. Ask those who have been losing their homes and you will get the same answer in regards Bush. In other words, deception on the part of our politicians is not something unique to Haiti as you seem to suggest.

I am not quite sure about what you mean in this passage :

[quote]I will remind him that under the presidential form we have had the American occupation of the 30s and today we have the ipso facto "world" occupation (Minustah)[/quote]

You seem to be saying that we should dump the presidential system. Is my interpretation correct? If it is, what should replace it then? I am curious to know.

In that respect, I would like to underline that the 1987 Constitution does weaken the institution of the presidency. But, in the end, it is not the "presidential form" that is responsible for the ocupations of Haiti, rather, it is the irresponsibility of our politicians, our intellectual class, our elite who, in cahoots with the army and their foreign allies, were determined to maintain at all costs their privileges, to the detriment of the great majority, who preferred to plot, to overthrow, to kill, to subdue anyone who dared to advocate for change and for true democracy.

That , in my humble opinion, is the real story behind why we are where we are today. Our leaders are the ones who need to be educated about the democratic process, not the masses. Isn't that strange?

Kenbe fèm!


Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 8:59 am
by Guysanto
Doc, I am a regular guy, not a politician. I write as I think and I write spontaneously. On this forum, you have variously compared me to Baby Doc and Papa Doc. I have tried to ignore those characterizations, though I could not possibly be pleased by them. Now I have the good fortune of being characterized in a more socially favorable manner "in my professoral way". I suppose that I should thank you for being so kind this time around. All in all, I would much prefer that you keep to the arguments, rather than portray yourself like a victim on this forum where we have welcomed you as a friend. If I or anyone else disagree with you at some point, it does not mean that anyone is persecuting you.

It's getting hard for me to understand how you call me a friend and yet, you constantly portray me as an enemy on the forum, someone who is out to get you. In fact, you seem to think that a whole community (Ann Pale) that has been LARGELY silent over the last several months is somewhat hostile to you.

First, let's go back to Barb's question. Here is what she asked:
[quote]I am really not at all clear on what the Haitian government actually does... [followed by examples of political attitudes that have baffled her] So can anyone explain to a naive outsider what the purpose of the Haitian government is and what it actually accomplishes?[/quote]
I observed that this was a great question, which meant that it deserved discussing by the rest of us, if we are still awake at this point. My point was not to be "an impeccable gentleman" or to flatter Barb, simply because she is a foreigner. I resent the implication, especially because it is so unnecessary. There is a qualitative difference between asking a question and providing what sounds like a definitive answer (or accusation) such as: "As you astutely observed, Haitian politicians know nothing and do nothing most of the time." However, I will let this go, because I feel sure that Barb can quite speak for herself. I only wanted to sound a note of caution in case you were over-interpreting her question, because of your own firmly-held views. If you were not, then Barb can say so and wholeheartedly agree with you. I would have no problem with that. But again, the idea that you are being pilloried on this forum by your fellow AnnPale'ers is simply false. I have critiqued some of your ideas (that's what a forum is for), but in return you have called me the worst names in the book. It is frankly tiresome, but I'll go on, even at the risk of getting you more bitter, though that is not at all my intention.

You proposed the following:
1) Dissolution of the Haitian present form of government. It is not working and quite dysfunctional.

I replied:
"in what manner would the present form of government be dissolved?"

You answered:
"Guy asks in his professoral way who is going to change our form of government and I will remind him that under the presidential form we have had the American occupation of the 30s and today we have the ipso facto "world" occupation (Minustah). We don't have an army. We don't have anything. We are a free country only by name and permission. Our present government is a disgrace. If Aristide was booted out despite his enormous popularity what do you think would happen if our " lords and masters " just change today's format ? Why not just bring the point up to them and ask them to do it ?"

Roger, with all the respect that I have for you (and to the risk of our friendship), I totally disagree with you. We ought not to ask the Americans or the international community to do any damn thing for us, politically. Every time they have, it has always been to our alienation and deepening shame of our being totally incapable of doing anything for ourselves. In fact, I think that it is sickening that we always seem to beg our occupiers to prolong their presence by another 6 months or another year. Now, they may be putting a gun to our heads in order for us to look like we are prostituting ourselves so. I don't know all the goings on, but it is sickening. You say "I am sure they would be happy to see Haiti finally off their collective backs." I feel sure that it is quite the opposite. They are profiteering from our endemic weakness. They have no material advantage or desire to see us progress to a state of not needing them anymore. Have you ever asked yourself why, when the American troops descended on Haiti to rid us of Aristide, they actually closed down a medical school and used it as their headquarters??? That's how much love they have for us, my friend!

What we need from the international community are forms of economic cooperation. But we don't need them to meddle more in our politics. That, we can handle via a revolution, a true revolution. And they know it too. That's why they have been so keen on democratizing us to an absurd point of deference for those who violate democratic principles themselves whenever they find it convenient.

Instead of condemning ALL Haitian politicians, indiscriminately, as the most corrupt individuals on Earth and constantly blaming ALL Haitians (except ourselves, of course) for all the ills that bedevil Haiti, or running to the French, the Canadians, and the Americans and begging them for deliverance at each and every turn, why don't we set out to discover for ourselves the HONEST Haitians that there must be, the GOOD Haitians that there must be, the SCRUPULOUS Haitians that there must be and give them our full support instead of blaming them for being Haitians, as though good can only come from abroad. I understand your lack of patience, but you are not that much older than I am, Roger. It does not have to happen fully in your lifetime or mine. But we need to right the course of our ship, our nation-ship. For this, we need a Haitian steward. A Haitian steward because no foreigner can love Haiti the way that a Haitian loves Haiti. A steward in the mold of Brother Franklin Armand of Pandiassou. Not necessarily him as in "sans lui, c'est le néant", but others who think and do like him. Remember the invocation in the Bible where xxxx asked The Lord: "What if you find 20... 10... or 5 JUSTES among our despicable group of sinners, will you save the City?, " and The Lord answered: "If I find even 5 JUSTES among them, I will save the City." And then The Lord proceeded in destroying the city with fire and brimstone and changing its inhabitants to pillars of salt. Well, I submit to you that even The Lord did not look hard enough. Because there were surely 1, 2, 3 or 4 among them who did not deserve to perish and were working hard to save the city, like our brother Pierre-Antoine Lovinsky (who disappeared or more than likely "was disappeared" a year ago, following his brazen and courageous denunciations of the current occupiers of Haiti).

Seemingly The Lord did not have the patience then, as seemingly we do not have the patience now. Yet, we ought to. There ARE Haitians living in Haiti who want to sacrifice for a better Haiti. Let's stop defaming them. Let's discover who they are and give them our full and critical support so they can carry on with the revolution that will surely come of its own some day.

If you are open to the idea that there might be some JUSTES in Haiti that we should honor and accompany in their struggle instead of making self-pitying denunciations and blanket condemnations that help no one in particular, then:

Read just this one example, and surely I and others can help you discover some more. Better to leave this earth with hope than with bitterness. I DARE to think that even you would agree with that.

[quote]November 13

Du désert au grenier

Il est à quelques kilomètres de Hinche, ce petit village qui, hier encore, n'attirait personne. C'était un désert. Aujourd'hui, toute la zone est devenue un grenier qui nourrit des milliers de personnes. Tout ça grâce à un homme décidé, le frère Armand Franklin, qui, en 34 ans, a littéralement fait fleurir le désert.

Microcrédit en espèces et même en nature pour les petites commerçantes, soins de santé gratuits aux paysans, éducation de qualité à coût abordable pour tous, reboisement de 200 hectares d'une terre érodée, creusage d'étangs artificiels pour l'irrigation et la pisciculture, il y a un peu de tout maintenant à Pandiassou, cette localité de Juanaria, la section communale la plus étendue du Plateau central.

Cela n'a pas toujours été le cas. Certes, du temps de la colonie, les Espagnols appelaient l'endroit «Pan y Asucar» qui signifie pain et sucre. L'expression est entrée dans la langue haitienne, transformée en Pandiassou.

Ce nom évoquant la prospérité et la douceur de vivre ne voulait plus rien dire dans les années 80. La zone était devenue presque inhabitée, dévastée par l'érosion et le désespoir de ses habitants. Les rares paysans qui s'accrochaient toujours au sol, raconte Armand Franklin - arrivé dans la région il y a 34 ans -, voyaient leurs fils et leurs filles l'abandonner pour les « bateys » de la République dominicaine.

Redevenu l'éden qu'il fut sans doute avant la conquête espagnole, Pandiassou ouvre à nouveau ses bras à tous ses enfants. Affaibli, Nacius y a trouvé refuge après avoir épuisé toute la vigueur de sa jeunesse dans les champs de canne à sucre dominicains. Aujourd'hui, il s'occupe joyeusement de son jardin et dit regretter avoir perdu son temps et son énergie en terre étrangère. « Cela fait dix ans que j'ai été rapatrié de Jabacao en République dominicaine. J'ai été bien accueilli par le frère Armand », dit-il l'air satisfait.

Plutôt discret, un sourire éternel accroché à ses lèvres, le frère Armand, comme tout le monde l'appelle ici, est avant tout un éducateur. L'oeuvre de bienfaisance de la congrégation catholique qu'il a fondée et qu'il dirige avec une assurance tranquille a jusqu'ici implanté plusieurs écoles primaires et secondaires dans la zone. Le taux d'analphabétisme y est en chute libre, car les jeunes filles comme les jeunes garçons peuvent enfin goûter au pain de l'instruction. Il y a même un autobus qui assure le ramassage scolaire!

On trouve aussi à Pandiassou un centre technique bien équipé où les jeunes, venus des localités avoisinantes et même de Hinche, peuvent s'initier aux métiers manuels et à l'artisanat : poterie, art floral, cuisine, céramique, etc. Les orphelins sont recueillis dans un centre d'accueil et 13 centres de nutrition distribuent chaque jour quelque 1 500 repas chauds aux enfants.

Le frère Armand a les deux pieds bien sur terre. Il a toute suite vu, en arrivant dans la zone, que le milieu avait besoin d'être reboisé. Il a donc retroussé ses manches et est parvenu, aidé par les paysans du coin, à reboiser deux cents hectares de terre désolée. Tout cela au profit des habitants qu'il a en plus aidés à construire leurs propres maisons en béton.

Si Armand Franklin a les pieds sur terre, il les a aussi dans l'eau. Jusqu'ici, 75 étangs artificiels où frétillent carpes et tilapias ont été creusés sur les terres de la congrégation. Pas étonnant que l'état de santé général des paysans se soit amélioré, car les poissons sont maintenant disponibles en abondance. Mangeant mieux, ils travaillent mieux. Le frère Armand sourit lorsqu'il évoque la réplique de ce paysan qui s'étonnait de ce que les poissons nourris par ses soins avaient tellement grossi :'' Frè Armand, se pa tilapya ankò, se gwo lapya.''

Armand Franklin est particulièrement fier du système de microcrédit, en nature et en numéraire, qu'il a mis en place à l'intention des habitants. « On donne aux paysans de l'argent ou même des animaux pour qu'ils puissent entreprendre des activités commerciales », souligne le bienfaiteur qui prévoit aussi de développer un tourisme local dans la zone.

A Pandiassou, les soins de santé ne coûtent presque rien grâce au support technique et financier d'une organisation proche du Premier ministre français, Dominique De Villepin, et de quelques missionnaires étrangers. Pour des poussières, le paysan a droit à une consultation médicale et à des médicaments. « Pour seulement cinq gourdes, un patient a droit à la consultation à notre clinique médicale et on lui donne gratuitement des médicaments », dit le frère Armand manifestement déterminé à ajouter encore au bonheur des habitants de Pandiassou. Il invite tous les gens de bonne volonté à se joindre à lui. « Donnez-moi dix hommes décidés, et nous rebâtissons la ville », déclare le religieux au grand coeur, fier de servir son pays.

Jean Max St Fleur

Ce reportage a été possible grâce au support de l'Organisation internationale de la Francophonie et de l'Agence Monde noir. (Source LE nouvelliste sur [/quote]

Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 4:16 pm
by Dr Roger Malebranche
Thank you Serge for your kind words.
I am , will be, has always been a Haitian to the core. I agree with you concerning the universality of greed. When Kennedy said : Don't ask what your country can do for you, Ask what you can do for your country ,
he was addressing a minority of the human race and Haitians have every right ( like any other humans ) to expect favors from their elected ones. It just seems that the politics of favoritism are SOOO powerful in Haiti and the country has so little to spare.
And over 200 years things have not changed, nor improved.
When I was 16, ( back in the 50s ) I used to spend summer vacations at Anse a Veau, my birthplace. And the area always had problems with La Riviere de l'Anse a Veau which had a tendency to become a raging waterway during the rainy season, making the road between Miragoane and Anse a Veau impassable. Every 2 or 3 years money was voted for a bridge. 1/2 of it went straight to the capital, 1/4 to the local politicians and the rest was allocated to some influential , well connected mason/builder. A bridge was then erected, of course with shoddy material, probably mud and straws. The " pont" bridge would wash away at the next heavy rain and the same process would start all over again.
Perhaps I expect too much of my fellow Haitians. I don't know. I am sure countries like the ones in the middle East would be in the same situation if they did not have oil. Haiti has few ressources to feed her many children and when those few resources are monopolised by the political and the so called elite class, our Brothers and Sisters of the lower classes suffer greatly. How long is it going to be that way ? Do you think Toussaint, Dessalines, Christophe, Petion etc... would be pleased to see the country they suffered greatly for in the condition it is today ?
Just Philosophizing. I don't have the answers either.
Take care. We have to meet one of these days.

Posted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 11:12 am
by jafrikayiti
Onè kanmarad,

I cannot stay too long as there is a storm passing through Haiti at the moment and I have a few minutes of internet time.

Let me say quickly that during my travels in Haiti this month of August, I can attest that the south of Haiti as well as a great part of the north are lush with trees. The areas of northwest and Gonaives are desolate. Haiti does not need food aid. What we need is for the jockers in Port-au-Prince to stop jocking around and take their nation and its needs seriously. We can be part of this change and invite those staying outside analyzing to get involved to the extent of their ability.

Pale anpil pap chanje anyen men aksyon fè chanjman.




Posted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 6:11 pm
by Dr Roger Malebranche
bonjou kanmarad Jaf
map fe oun ti priye pou w.
pran kouraj e bon sante.
vie Ayitien a.

Posted: Thu Aug 28, 2008 8:30 pm
by Gelin_
[quote]...However, as regards your question " What do Haitians, local and Diasporeic plan to do about this non working government ?", I am not sure what kind of answer you expect, except that the only way to change the Gvt. is for the people to wait for the next election and do the right thing. You see, I believe that in order for democracy to really take roots, you need to practice, practice and and even practice more. The best way to do that is to get into one democratic transition to another. With each election, the democratic process is strengthened, and that is how people learn and it becomes automatic for them to think in terms of this process...[/quote]
Amen, Serge! It's the " panzouyè " mentality that has brought Haiti to its knees, nothing else. Until that thinking is dealt with there is no way Haiti will know any stability as a nation; and we all know that without stability there will never be a solid answer to hunger, poverty, and unemployment. I am surprised every time educated haitians wish for a coup when things go bad as if an abrupt change of government is going to change the situation.

To the question " what is the haitian government is doing? ", I submit they are trying to establish the democratic process so elected officials can lead and/or be replaced in due time by another elected team. If Preval and his team can accomplish just that and turn the power to another elected team, they will have succeeded in my book. And I am ready for a debate!


Posted: Fri Aug 29, 2008 8:56 am
by Dr Roger Malebranche
Hi Gelin :
No debate from this corner. First I would ask you to explain the word "panzouye". This is a new Kreyol term for me and I don't grasp its meaning. Like you I would hate to see another coup in Haiti. I agree that sudden and violent government changes have not helped us over 200+ years of indepedence, and a string of democratically elected competent governments is the way to go. I don't think I will see the day when hunger and desperation will be gone from our country but I hope that day will come. BUT when we finally have that successful democratic government will it have a country left to govern ?
My trouble with the present system is that we are electing politicians on the basis of charm, oratory skill and popularity instead of the solid values needed to pull the country out of its death bed. As a member of the educated and professional diaspora I would love to offer help in the rebuilding process but I doubt I would be allowed to do so.
I have been reading the Nouvelliste daily on line and I am getting desperate about the future of the country. Morne l'Hopital is gone. The hurricane season is destroying the land as we speak. Haiti is hemorrhaging and we don't have blood to give Her. It seems like everything... lack of infrastructures, overpopulation, deforestation, agricultural insufficiency, insecurite, brain power exodus, yearly natural disasters ( the so called acts of God ) etc... are piling up and pushing our mother down. I try to be optimistic like Serge and you, I keep praying something good will happen, ( like the discovery of great oil reserves ), I keep hoping because I will go to my grave without having given up on Haiti. Can you guys send a few optimistic and encouraging rays my way ?
I need some sunshine from the younger and stronger ANNPALEERS.

Posted: Fri Aug 29, 2008 11:08 pm
by Gelin_
Hi Wòj,

A couple of points regarding your note:

[quote]Hi Gelin :
No debate from this corner. First I would ask you to explain the word "panzouye"...[/quote]
That would be the equivalent of Putchist. As a child did you play that game consisting of suddenly grabbing toys or other things from the hands of unsuspecting friends? You could also tap their hands so they lose control of whaterver they had or were carrying. In Plateau Central that's called "giving someone a Panzou".

[quote]...As a member of the educated and professional diaspora I would love to offer help in the rebuilding process but I doubt I would be allowed to do so</b>...[/quote]
You may be right here but in reality you do not have to wait for people to open the door for you. And there is no need for you really to be part of the government in order to help. One way is to find some who are helping in some way and join hands with them. Check out this one here: , one among so many...


Posted: Sat Aug 30, 2008 10:15 am
by Guysanto
Hi Gelin,

Thank you so much for the link. Ou chita sou zouti sa depi lontan epi ou pa di nou anyen. Anyway, I salute you for being part of DOXA. Your participation as Secretary alone gives us a measure of confidence in the organization, as we are well aware of your integrity for being associated with you for so many years on Windows on Haiti. Please tell us from time to time about your organizational successes, as we thirst for good news from Haiti. As you know, the focus of Haitian-Americans is almost always (perhaps 99%) on the futile politics of Port-au-Prince, leading to non-stop denunciation of the Haitian character with not one ounce of affirmation. I gave the magnificent example of Frère Franklin Armand in Pandiassou. but that does not seem to resonate nearly as much as the righteous condemnations of our supposed incapacity to do as well as others. On these pages, I have always invited everyone to spread the good news about Haiti, and I have myself written extensively about my experiences with Pandiassou, with Fonkoze, with Fondwa, with the Adult School of Law of Jérémie. I have related my visit to Canges where Dr. Paul Farmer practices and my encounters with him. I have given as much space as I could to the enabling campaigns of our colleagues, such as Frantz and his beloved community in Port-à-Piment, and now you, Gelin, as I imagine that you are going to tell us more about the children of San Pèd and the free education they receive. Windows on Haiti was never meant to be translated to the Windows on the bad politics of Haiti, but essentially to the Windows on all the good news that comes out of Haiti because it is otherwise under-reported, if not buried altogether.

Perhaps the only thing I don't like about DOXA (and it's not that big a deal, really) is that it seems to lock out principled atheists that I know.

But thanks again for the opportunity to learn about the positive action of DOXA, which appears to have the same operational axis as another organization I am much more familiar with, Fonkoze (minus perhaps the active evangelization... that, I suspect, may be integral to your organization). I also greatly enjoyed the discovery of on your list of links. I am truly impressed with their own efforts and I wish them the very best.

All in all, given your participation in a new enterprise for positive action in some poor communities in Haiti, I understand your long silence on this board and embrace your renewed participation whenever you can.


Posted: Sun Aug 31, 2008 10:15 pm
by Gelin_
[quote]...Perhaps the only thing I don't like about DOXA (and it's not that big a deal, really) is that it seems to lock out principled atheists that I know...[/quote]
No worry...There is no bias but we are all believers and the motivation comes really from the gospel of Christ. We started over 20 years ago doing on a very small scale what we hope to be able to accomplish through DOXA now on a much larger scale. There was no bias then and there won't be any difference now between believers and unbelievers when it comes to offer needed assistance - provided we have the means for it.

DFI itself is very young and the website is under construction in some way, as you can see. Currently, maintaning the school is the major operation, but we are also supporting other individuals and families along the way. I will keep you and the WOH family informed as we make progress. I am glad you found informative.

Thanks for your kind words.


More good news

Posted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 1:47 am
by Tayi
Hello family:

Interesting thread indeed. I just finished watching the documentary Ghosts of Cité Soleil and I was left in a strange state. The emotions that I felt were love, frustration, inspiration, sense of helplessness, and did I say love for Haiti, for my people, and a new sense of trying to understand those who are usually too scary to be understood, the gang leaders etc. The film put a real but human face to Haitian 2Pac and his brother Bily. I was hoping to get some comments from other Annpaleers but I realize that will probably be in another thread.

In the meantime this current discussion caught my attention. I appreciate all the dialogue, especially in seeing that no matter what views one is defending here, it is based on a sense of love for Haiti.

I especially appreciate the story that Guy shared with us about Frère Armand. Just a simple man who loves. In fact I usually would comment jokingly but seriously that we need someone who takes a vow of poverty (like Frère Armand) to help run the country. Thus there would be less temptation for money :-) But most of these guys probably don't want power. In fact they take a vow of obedience too! :-)

I too love to hear good stories from Haiti. I experience some first hand. I know a group of people who are giving their lives over to SERVE those less fortunate. They are part of a project/mission in Miragoane. In partnership with a group from the US they are building a home for orphaned and abandoned children, a school, a medical office and with open minds to go further with a trade school and a system to help boost the economy of the local area. Of course they chose to do this project "nan kè peyi a" as Jaf likes to call the country side, within the beautiful mountains of Haiti. This is in the midst of the simple and and indispensable peasants in an area with clean air and green hills. The local officials (governmental and religious) are all cooperative. The villagers themselves welcome this mission and have promised to help in the advancing of their own community.

Interestingly too, I am teaching Creole to two American young ladies who are preparing to move to the village so they can serve the children. They absolutely are in love with our culture. One of them has a tattoo on her feet that says "mwen fou pou ou" (I'm crazy for you) referring to Haiti. There is beauty in Haiti. Love, solidarity, humility, respect, honor. Enough to make a total foreigner "fou pou" Haiti. Let us fall in love again with Haiti, wrinkles and all. That is one place to start. Then we can make even a tiny difference by nourishing such good qualities listed above. The good is indeed stronger than the bad.

Please pray for the group to be faithful servants of God and of the beloved people of Haiti.

For more information you may take a look at the website: Loo for the "mission Haiti" tab.
The site needs to be updated with the information of more team members.

Gelin, my brother, God bless the work that your team is doing in Haiti.