While fragile politically, Haiti is much safer than media coverage suggests. Any violent crime mainly takes place in Port au Prince. Even there, homicide rates are decreasing (now at 3 per 100,000 people in three selected areas) vs. 52 per 100,000 people in Jamaica, generally viewed as a favorable tourism destination. Even Costa Rica has a higher rate than Haiti at 11 homicides per 100,000 people. Below is an article by Trenton Daniel on the decreasing homicide rate in Haiti's largest city. To court investment and tourism, Haiti needs to rebrand itself as historically, culturally, and artisticly rich as well as safe.
Below is a New York Times article, a reminiscence really, by Madison Smartt Bell on a simple house he once owned in rural Haiti. He recalls that one can do nothing alone in Haiti, which can make it very difficult and very special at the same time. His description of the lakou and the importance of community will resonate with anyone who has lived in rural Haiti before.
The Grand Rue Sculptors will hold the second Ghetto Biennale Art Festival from the end of November through early December. Film-makers, academics, photographers, musicians, architects, and writers will converge on Grand Rue to make and display Vodoun infused art with themes of survival, resistance, and redemption. If you cannot attend, check out the individual artists and their work online. Details and a draft schedule below.
Below is a guest blog from Nina Persi, an art student who visited Haiti to document the lives of orphans living in Saint Joseph facilities in/around Port au Prince and Jacmel. Having returned to Pennsylvania, she is using her photos to raise awareness about vulnerable children in Haiti (of which there are many) and to raise funds for the Saint Joseph Family, an organization doing exceptional work caring for them. More information on her trip, the Saint Joseph Family, and how you can get involved follows.
According to Webster’s on-line dictionary, the definition of poor is: 1. Destitute of property; wanting material riches or goods; needy; indigent. Haiti has come to be known as the poorest country in the western hemisphere, which is technically true if you base the statement according to dollars and cents. Many of the local Haitians I’ve come across say “yes we are poor” while smiling. My question is why the smile? Which leads me to ask what exactly does it mean to be poor?
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Haitian and Canadian governments launched a maternal and child health initiative today, a continuation and expansion of two existing programs. Even prior to the earthquake, Haiti was a difficult place to be a mother or a young child. Through this initiative, mothers and children under five receive basic care without cost. The intent is to progressively scale up this initiative to 90 health care facilities throughout the country. The full press release follows.
The International Crisis Group has released a report on the importance of police reforms for security in Haiti, meaning freedom from intimidation and abuse, conflict and violence, and crime and impunity. The release comes during a time in which Brazil and other partner nations are increasingly contemplating a gradual drawdown of MINUSTAH staffing. This provides the Haitian government and its partners a window of opportunity to continue reforms that will make the Haitian National Police more effective and accountable. The full report is attached and a summary is copied below.
One World Education is a Washington DC based non profit organization that specializes in teaching high school students to write about cultural/global issues. Andre Sanabia, a tenth grader from Alexandria who participates in the program, wrote a piece questioning how Haitians (and Dominicans of Haitian descent) are treated in the Dominican Republic. I wish more politicians in the Dominican Republic possessed Andre's introspectiveness. As he notes, a little kindness goes a long way.
Imagine being born in a country that does not recognize you and the possibility of being deported to a country that you do not know. This is the reality for many Dominicans of Haitian descent throughout the Dominican Republic. Steve Sapienza’s documentary “Stranded: The Stateless Haitians” explores how Dominicans of Haitian descent struggle with government discrimination in the only country they have ever known. Earlier blogs on statelessness in the Dominican Republic and on the complicated relationship between Haiti and the Dominican Republic are also available.
Below is an article Phil Cruver, President of KZO Sea Farms, wrote for the Christian Science Monitor on the need for a modern aquaculture industry in Haiti. With half the fish consumed worldwide each year having been farm-raised, this is clearly a growth industry. But could it work in Haiti? Even traditional fisheries are rare in Haiti despite its oceans having become largely overfished. However, aquaculture could provide jobs, affordable protein, and contribute to better marine management. It is certainly worth considering.