And to a Country, Goodnight

  • Posted on: 23 December 2005
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

good nightAs this year comes to a close, it is only natural to ask if Haiti is better off this year than last. In many regards, the answer is yes. Haiti is safer, kidnappings are down, and democratic elections are (fingers crossed) around the corner. However, while these are all encouraging signs, progress to the fast majority of Haitians is incremental if not nonexistent. It is difficult to argue that a country is making ‘great strides’ while moving towards democracy, when the fast majority of the populace merely wants to provide enough food for their family. Measured in this manner, there may not be that much difference between this year and last.

This is one of the most difficult redundancies that those of us working to improve Haiti must face each and every year. How is it possible that with all of the work being done by organizations such as Project Medishare, Partners in Health and countless others, we still can not definitively say that yes, this year Haiti is better off than last? I am not trying to sound pessimistic, but I believe this is a major cause of donor fatigue to Haiti. How can we expect donors to continue supporting development projects, when they see little overall progress?

One of the primary roles we play at Haiti Innovation is to ensure that donors know that while progress at the community level does not necessarily translate into progress at the national level, it is still progress. And eventually, stronger communities will translate into a stronger nation. It is amazing the differences when visiting a community in Haiti that has a Project Medishare and one that does not. Our role is to show donors that difference, because once they witness what their donations can accomplish, the false impressions that Haiti is in a development quagmire quickly dissipate.

We at Haiti Innovation are dedicated to reducing the gap between how development in Haiti is perceived and how it is actually progressing. If you are working in Haiti, or have in the past, please let us know about your work so that we can share it with our community. Hopefully, next holiday season when someone asks if Haiti is better off this year than last, we can all respond with a resounding YES.

Chris Schron
Haiti Innovation

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