Community

The Legacy of Jean-Baptiste Point du Sable

By Bryan Schaaf on Friday, March 8, 2013.


I grew up in the midwest and Chicago, being our largest city, was the promised land.  Only well after living in Haiti did I learn that the first non-native resident of Chicago was Jean-Baptiste Point du Sable, a Haitian who made the long voyage from Saint Marc.  A Haitian Times article about the "Founder of Chicago" follows and you can learn more through the Du Sable Heritage Association.  The Haitian-American population there may not be large, but Chicago's history is forever connect to Haiti's. Read more »

Haiti Moves to Tighten Laws on Sexual Violence

By Bryan Schaaf on Friday, March 8, 2013.

Below is an article by the International Press Service's Ansel Herz describing upcoming legislative changes that would make it easier for survivors of rape to prosecute their attackers. The reforms have high-level support and could pass within a year.  While much more remains to be done, these reforms would represent significant progress. Read more »

Haitian Schools Expand Use of Kreyol

By Bryan Schaaf on Thursday, February 7, 2013.

Below is an article by Trenton Daniel concerning the increasing use of Haitian Kreyol in schools - which is a good thing.  In a hemisphere dominated by Spanish and English, French remains the language of the Haitian elite.  While true that Haiti has produced artists of note who worked in French, countless children didn't have a chance at a good education because they were instructed in a language neither they nor their teachers were comfortable with.  Learning multiple languages makes sense - but so does being tought in (and proud of) your first language.  Read more »

Governing Haiti: Time for National Consensus

By Bryan Schaaf on Tuesday, February 5, 2013.

The International Crisis Group's (ICG) latest report "Governing Haiti: Time for National Consensus" examines the Haitian government's efforts to convince its own people, donors and potential investors that progress and stability are achievable.  The report emphasizes the need for good governance, consensus building among the elites, effectively implemented poverty reduction strategies and strengthened rule of law. Getting there will require a shift from highly confrontational politics to one of compromise and consensus. The executive summary is below and you can read the full report on the ICG websiteRead more »

"Haiti From Below" Released

By Bryan Schaaf on Friday, February 1, 2013.

Nick Hobgood, a regional consultant for DAI, learned how to scuba dive off Haiti's northern coast.  He has since produced a high quality photography book of over 100 colorful pictures of fish, other marine life and landscapes taken between 2007-2010 in the Baie de l’Acul, Cachal Beach, Caracol, Cormier, Fort Labouque, Fort Liberté, Isla Amiga, and Labadie.  Proceeds from the first 250 books will support the expansion of Reef Check's EcoDiver program in Haiti.  More information follows.    Read more »

Haiti's First Ever Pro-Am Mountain Bike Race Underway

By Bryan Schaaf on Friday, February 1, 2013.

There are a lot of places in Haiti you just can't reach by car.  The goal of Mountain Bike Ayiti (MTBAyiti) is to promote mountain biking in Haiti. Working with the Haitian Ministry of Tourism and Pepsi Max, it has launched the first ever pro-am mountain bike stage race in Haiti, which is taking place from January 30 - February 2nd.  Take a look at the course map and then click here if you are interested in getting involved with promoting mountain biking for both Haitians and tourists.    Read more »

Development Debacles: Book Review of “Travesty in Haiti”

By Bryan Schaaf on Saturday, January 26, 2013.
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nTravesty in Haiti: A True Account of Christian Missions, Orphanages, Fraud, Food Aid and Drug Trafficking” is not a new book, having been published in 2008.  However, it should be required reading for volunteers, missionaries and development workers interested in Haiti.  Drawing from his experiences as an anthropologist and consultant in the northwest, he describes how NGOs in the region caused serious harm in the name of development.  Schwartz is frustrated but not anti development – he is against dependency, corruption, and  disempowering the people we say we want to help.  You can read a preview and/or purchase his book on Amazon.  A few thoughts below.

Book Review: Farewell, Fred Voodoo

By Bryan Schaaf on Sunday, January 20, 2013.
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Amy Wilentz understands Haitian culture, history, and language as few other foreigners do.  This, combined with candor about her own biases and emotions, makes her a compelling writer about a country where nothing is black and white.  Like many of us, she seeks redemption of a sort through Haiti.  Throughout her most recent book, "Farewell, Fred Vodoo", she emphasizes that Haitian perspectives are the best ways to understand the reality of post-earthquake Haiti.  Below is a review by Hector Tobar of the LA Times.  More information about the book and upcoming readings are available on Amy Wilentz's website

Book Review: The Big Truck Went By - How the World Came to Save Haiti And Left Behind a Disaster

By Bryan Schaaf on Sunday, January 20, 2013.

Below is a review, from Reason, of Jonathan Katz's book on the shortcomings of the international community's efforts to "save" Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.  While no response to the aftermath earthquake, no matter how well-organized or well-resourced would have been sufficient, he emphasizes that the subsequent reconstruction effort was hobbled by a top-down approach that excluded governmental institution, weak as they may have been, local firms, and community groups.  To read an excerpt or purchase the book, take a look at  Amazon.   Read more »

Plans to Rebuild Catholic and Episcopalian Cathedrals Take Shape

By Bryan Schaaf on Thursday, December 20, 2012.

The Catholic and Episcopalian cathedrals were two prominent landmarks in Port-au-Prince prior to their destruction in the earthquake.  Plans are now underway for the reconstruction of each.  A Puerto Rican team has won an international design competition to rebuild the Catholic Cathedral.  The Episcopalian cathedral will be rebuilt by a Virginia-based firm. Each will be built back better, able to withstand hurricanes and earthquakes.  Learn more at the websites of the Catholic and Episcopalian Cathedrals.  Full Miami Herald article below. Read more »