The UN has released its 2014 Humanitarian Action Plan for Haiti. While 89% of camp residents have moved out and significant progress has been made against cholera, significant challenges remain such as halting environmental degradation and reducing vulnerability to disasters. The plan focuses on meeting the basic needs of those remaining in the camps, addressing the cholera epidemic, increasing food security, and strengthening the leadership and capacity of national authorities. A summary of the plan follows.
Peace Corps is not currently active in Haiti and it remains to be seen whether a program will be re-established. There remains a network of 516 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) who served in Haiti and continue to share their experiences. Richard Ireland, senior statesman of the group before me, gave a presentation at his church, now available online. His musings on how Americans and Haitians view time, fear, and joy is well worth a listen as is learning how to say no with an open heart instead of a closed one. You can listen by clicking here.
Below is a USAID/Department of Education announcement of new funding to support the Room to Learn program in Haiti. Haiti is one of six Room to Learn focus countries, which focuses on improving access to primary education. An estimated 600,000 out of school Haitian children are functionally illiterate. Education is critical for their growth as well for the growth of Haiti's economy, civil society, and institutions.
Below is an article by Ezra Fieser and Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald concerning a Dominican court ruling denying citizenship to Dominican-born children of Haitian immigrants. Many of them have never been to Haiti but nevertheless will be denied access to education and opportunities as they lack citizenship from the country where they were born and raised. Haiti has recalled its Ambassador and protests are planned by human rights activists.
Below is a New York Times article by David Gonzales concerning a photo exhibit and book by Paolo Woods entitled “State” – the idea of it vs. the reality, how/if it is a part of everyday life, and how society is organized when the capacity of the state to govern is minimal. Based out of Les Cayes, Woods explored these questions through his journalism and photography. Haiti has often been a victim of lazy journalism and sensational photography that over-emphasizes the bad without seeking the good. Woods consistenly sees the good, the positive, and the hopeful, making his exhibit and book worth a look.
Lee Rainboth, editor of the always insightful and often humorous Green Mango Blog, has completed a book about living in rural Haiti after the earthquake. While the quake is the defining event of the book, it is more about how a community come together after a loss and moves forward together. You can purchase it directly at either Create Space or Amazon. A portion of all proceeds will be devoted to community projects in Mizak. Please consider purchasing the book at either site and then post your thoughts about it in the comments section below.
Haiti has long had a population of Arab descent, many of whom have played an important role in Haiti’s private sector and artistic community. A visit to the Nader Gallery, founded by the son of Lebanese immigrants, was required for anyone with an interest in Haitian art. The gallery and irreplaceable pieces of art were destroyed in the earthquake although the Smithsonian succeeded in salvaging some. Below is a well-written article (which I am just now seeing) about the Nader Family written by Nancy Beth Jackson and Maggie Steber. More information can also be found at the Nader Haitian Art, Gary Nader Art, and the Haitian Art Society websites.
Below is an announcement by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) concerning a $9 million grant to promote sustainable land management at Macaya National Park. The park holds one of the country's largest remaining forests and is of historical importance having a fort built by Jean Jacques Dessalines in 1804. For more background about Macaya, take a look at this Forbes Article published in March 2013.
Tolerance for minorities - religious, political, sexual, and otherwise - is an important measure of a democracy. It has never been easy for Haitians to be out but watchdog groups are particularly concerned by a series of threats against Haiti's gay community. More information from the Associated Press follows. If you are interested in local organizations promoting gay rights, the best known are Kouraj and Serovie.
Encite Capital is a new non-profit organization with the objective of supporting small business development in Haiti with an emphasis on agribusiness, manufacturing, and alternative energy. The official launch party will be held on July 25th from 6-8pm at the Hillyer Gallery in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington DC. To learn more about Encite Capital, check out their website or connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. More information follows.