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.
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 website.
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.
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.
Travesty 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.
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.
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.
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.
Adoption can be controversial. In the case of Haiti, many orphanges are poorly managed and with little oversight. Major challenges are a lack of livelihoods and access to family planning information and commodities. Many children in orphanages are not really orphans as they have parents - albeit parents that could not afford them. Trention Daniel notes Haiti is in the process of updating its adoption laws for the first time in 40 years. This would being Haiti's adoption practices closer to international standards.
Given the extent of internal displacement in Port-au- Prince and environmental degradation beyond, Haiti remains vulnerable to flooding. You can see the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in this Washington Post video clip. There will be much reporting in the days ahead about the loss of lives, homes, and livelihoods. Drawing on his experience living through the earthquake and reflecting upong Hurricane Sandy's impact, Jonathan Katz takes a moment to remind us of Haitian resilience and solidarity, qualities we can learn from.