Haiti it a tough country to be a child, but especially one without family. Insitutionalising children is rarely the right answer, especially in a country where oversight of orphanages is lax. The better option is to provide children with the option of living, even temporarily, with a foster family. At long last, Haiti is developing a national network of foster families so children don't wind up in orphanages, on the street or worse. Haiti is early in this process but it it still represents real progress. Participating famiies are not paid - they quite literally do it out of the goodness of their hearts. The full article by AP journalist David Crary follows.
At the insistence of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Haitian government had agreed to cut government subsidies on fuel which would have caused prices to increase by over half. Life is expensive enough in Haiti due to a lack of economic growth and dependency on imports. To reduce subsidies would have made life even costly when many struggle just to get by. The situation was very tense but has since calmed. Still, the IMF has yet again hurt Haiti by failing to promote policies that are pro-poor. The full article by Time journalist Billy Perrigo follows.
Haitian women are holding the country together - yet are vulnerable to gender-based violence and other abuses. According to USAID, one out of every three Haitian women between the ages of 15 - 49 has experienced gender-based violence. In this era of #MeToo, women are increasingly choosing to be voices for change instead of suffering in silence. Haitian comedian Gaëlle Bien-Aimé is a brave Haitian comedian who has shared her experience as a rape survivor and became a human rights activitist. Through her performances, her outreach, and her example she encourages other survivors to do the same. Most about this inspiring activist in the full article below.
The U.S State Department has released the 2017 Human Rights Reports. While not without controversy this year, these reports are valuable for tracking to the extent to which partner countries protect human rights - including for women, children, and minorities. As in previous years, Haiti's weak justice remains a major challenges. Conditions in prisons remain poor and journalism remains a dangerous business. However, they have been some modest successes including the Haitian National Police becoming increasingly professional. The full report follows.
In the Caribbean, rum was born of pain and suffering but over time became an integral part of the identity of Caribbean countries. Haiti is no exception - maybe I'm biased but I thnk Haiti has the most interesting rum in the world, ranging from Barbancourt 15 Years to the potent white rum of the countryside called Klerin. Haiti's aged rums are ideal for enjoying neat - perhaps with just a bit of ice and a twist of key lime. Klerin is gaining an appeciation by bartenders who appreciate its rustic, grassy flavors. You don't have to get on an airplane to enjoy Haiti's rums although if you do, there will be no shortage of opportunities to try a range of traditional rums, infused rums, and rum-based cocktails.
Spirit Airlines has announced a new routing to Cap Haitien, Haiti's second largest city. Haiti was once, and could be yet again, a significant tourism destination - but this would be unlikely if tourists coudl only enter the country through a congested and unpedictable Port-au-Prince. In Jamaica, most tourists fly into Montego Bay and bypass Kingston altogether. Cap Haitien, with its history, beaches, and relative stability, may eventually become Haiti's Montego Bay. Managed properly, increased tourism could be good for Cap Haitien and the north. A full article on Spirit AIrline's recent announcement by Jacqueline Charles of the is linked and follows.
Remote mountain villages and dense urban slums in Haiti will usually have multiple churches but finding a library is a rarity indeed. AFP journalist Amelia Baron documents below an effort by residents the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port au Prince to develop a free library where youth can learn. Many of us living in developed countries may take libraries for granted. In a country like Haiti where half the population cannot read and write, they are especially important. More information about the library's creation follows.
Over the years, I have been fortunate to know many strong Haitian women in Haiti and abroad. Below is a Forbes article by Peggy Yu about two Haitian-American women, one of whom started her own company and the other whom became a nurse. Each of them takes pride and strength in their Haitian roots - and nothing any politician says will change that. International Women's Day may have come and gone, but women like Guelmana Rochelin and Johaida Jean-Francois do important work in their communities every single day. Linked and copied below is the full article.
The Haitian government has a responsibility to determine who can and cannot enter/stay in the country and under what circumstances. In the wake of the Oxfam prostitution scandal, the government has indicated that it intends to review all charities to determine the extent to which their staff have been involved in/reported sexual abuse and exploitation. The list of foreigners who have sexually exploited Haitians is long - but it especially stings when committed by people who claim they are there to help such as UN peackeepers, rogue missionaries, and aid workers. This review could be a first step to improving oversight of the multiltudes of NGOs in Haiti. The full article by Reuters journalist Joseph Gulyer Delva follows.
For many years, Haiti was a significant tourist destination. However, the industry never recovered from the American embargo, erronous claims that the HIV/AIDS epidemic began in Haiti, political instability, and natural disasters made worse by deforestation and erosion. Despite that, tourism has a great deal of untapped potential. Sure the beaches and rum are great but other Caribbean countries have that as well. It is Haiti's unique history and culture that could bring the right kind of visitors. New York Daily News journalist Jesse Serwer writes below that Trump's "shithole" comment spurred interest in Haiti, including visits by celebrities such as Conan O'Brien who filmed a special there recently. Read through his article and you just may find yourself planning your next vacation.