Port Au Prince

No Reservations: Haiti

By Bryan Schaaf on Thursday, July 21, 2011.

I finally got around to watching the  No Reservations episode in which Anthony Bourdain travels to Port au Prince.  While it is a shame that he did not visit Haiti’s secondary cities or countryside, he and his team were able to capture some of the beauty, the tragedy, and the potential of Haiti.  He comes away understanding Haitians are trying their best to get their lives, communities, and country back on track.  You can catch the entire episode (in three parts) on Youtube. Read more »

Screening of "Lift Up" In Washington D.C. to Benefit Haiti (5/18/2011)

By Bryan Schaaf on Monday, April 25, 2011.

The Service to Serve Haiti Committee is a group of individuals from the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, DC committed to supporting recovery efforts in Haiti.  Its members have organized a screening of "Lift Up", a documentary about two Haitian brothers who return to Haiti in order to memorialize the grandfather they lost after the earthquake.  The screening will benefit Fonkoze, the Haiti Micah Project, and the Saint Vincent's School for the Handicapped, each of which the Committee's members have worked with and know first hand the impact these groups are making for women and children in Haiti.  Below is the official press release.  Read more »

Haiti Education and Leadership Program (HELP) Update

By Bryan Schaaf on Saturday, January 29, 2011.

Since 1988, the Haitian Education and Leadership Program (HELP) has provided scholarships to high performing students throughout Haiti based solely on merit.  HELP is still going strong and recently upgraded its website with support from the Mastercard Foundation.  It may well be that the only activity that counts as "sustainable development" is education.  Knowledge and skills can’t be taken away.  In a country where over 40% of the population is under the age of fourteen, education empowers individuals to improve themselves, their communities, and their country.  More information about HELP follows.   Read more »

Between Relief and Development: Haiti One Year Later

By Bryan Schaaf on Wednesday, January 12, 2011.

Today marks one year since the earthquake.  There has been a great deal of commentary, dialogue, and debate over what is going well, what is not, what should be improved and how.  Much of Port au Prince is still in ruins, a cholera epidemic has yet to peak, and the most recent elections were a debacle.  The anniversary provides an opportunity for us to consider what will get Haiti out of survival mode and on the path to development.  Doing so will depend in large part upon the Haitian government, its willingness to change, and ability to lead. Read more »

Inside the Haiti Earthquake: A Simulation

By Bryan Schaaf on Friday, November 12, 2010.

Inside Disaster is an interactive, educational website about the Haiti earthquake response and about humanitarian work in general.  It is a companion to an upcoming three part documentary series that explores the complexities of the Haiti response.  The website contains many useful resources for the aspiring or current humanitarian, the most interesting of which is a simulation that allows the participant to experience the earthquake as a survivor, as an aid worker, or as a journalist. The simulation, well worth a look, is called Inside the Haiti Earthquake. Inside Disaster would welcome your feedback on the website. Read more »

Haiti Earthquake Update (6/13/2010)

By Bryan Schaaf on Sunday, June 13, 2010.

John Holmes, the UN Humanitarian Chief, yesterday expressed frustration with the humanitarian response in Haiti.  Holmes stated finding available land for transitional shelters, slow decision-making by the government and new waves of Haitians moving into the settlements (often for services not available in their own neighborhoods) have made responding to the crisis particularly difficult.  The Haitian government, responsible for setting priorities and developing plans, lacks staffing and expertise.  It is being pulled in many directions at once on issues relating to shelter, hurricane contingency planning, governance reforms, elections, law enforcement, food security, and decentralization.  Read more »

Port au Prince Iron Market to Be Rebuilt

By Bryan Schaaf on Saturday, May 22, 2010.

Port au Prince lost many of its architectural landmarks in the earthquake.  One of these was the Iron Market.  While the market was hot and crowded, it was also full of energy.  One cannot help but miss it.  Half of the market was for vendors selling Vodoun flags, paintings and other works of art.  The other side was an entrepeneurial free for all where you could find just about anything.  The CNN article below notes that, while it will take years, the Iron Market will be rebuilt.  Hopefully it will be bigger, stronger, and safer.         

Haiti Earthquake Update (4/14/2010)

By Bryan Schaaf on Wednesday, April 14, 2010.

As we get closer to May, the rains will become more frequent and intense.  Even brief rainfall to date gives an indication of how vulnerable the displaced in Port au Prince are to flooding and mud-slides. Some, such as the displaced at the Petionville Golf Club are being relocated to the hastily prepared Corail-Cesselesse site 15 km north of Port au Prince. Six other sites require urgent evacuation before the rainy season.  Other sites can be made safer with engineering interventions.  Disturbingly, hundreds sheltering at the National Stadium were reported to have been forcibly removed.  Close coordination and rapid action are urgently needed to protect the displaced from the upcoming rains.  Read more »

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team Deploys to Haiti

By Bryan Schaaf on Sunday, March 21, 2010.

A Humanitarian OpenStreetMap (HOT) Team was deployed to Port au Prince last night with all the equipment needed to train earthquake responders on OpenStreetMap. Essentially, OpenStreetMap is a free, editable map of the whole world.  Why does this matter to Haiti? OpenStreetMap, being available to everyone without cost, provides a mechanism for humanitarian responders and development actors to rapidly share geographic information.  The HOT team will spend the next several weeks in Port au Prince helping to bring this about.  Read more »

A Postcard From Northern Haiti (2/22/2010)

By Bryan Schaaf on Monday, February 22, 2010.

Hello from Cap Haitian, the chipped pearl of the Antilles.  When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Central Plateau, I would sometimes take Route National Three from Hinche to Cap for a long weekend.  I never looked forward to the grueling trip, but I always looked forward to being in Cap.  The beaches were (and still are) beautiful and this region is historically rich.  It is here that Christopher Columbus landed and where he lost one of his ships.  The Haitian slave rebellion began with a single Vodoun ceremony in Bois Cayman and ended with the battle of Vertieres. The Citadel looms from a mountain in the distance.  While the city of Cap Haitian has changed, and not for the better, it is still good to be back in the north. Read more »