Haiti requires foreign assistance for many years to come. However, trade is more important than aid over the long term. Digicel and others have shown that, while a difficult place to do business, investment can be both beneficial to Haiti and profitable to investors. A two day event to court new investors, financed by the Inter-American Development Bank, was recently concluded. Announcements included planned improvements to route national one, an industrial park in the north, and a large, new hotel in Port au Prince. A Miami Herald article by Jacqueline Charles on the forum follows.
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.
Plumpynut revolutionized the treatment of acutely malnourished children. In Haiti, Partners in Health (PIH) has produced a local variant, Nourimamba, since 2007. The Abbot pharmaceutical company is working closely with PIH to further improve Nourimamba and to expand production. The opening of a factory is scheduled for end 2012. This is good news for malnourished children, the health care providers who treat them, and the farmers who produce the ingredients for Nourimamba. An article by New York Times writer Duff Wilson on the PIH/Abbot partnership follows.
Of all countries in the western hemisphere, Haiti lags furthest behind in vaccination coverage. However, there are reasons for hope. The Haitian Ministry of Health (MSPP), the World Health Organization (WHO), The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the GAVI Alliance, American Red Cross (ARC), and key countries such as the United States, Brazil, Cuba, and Canada have pledged to coordinate in expanding coverage, including the introduction of new and much-needed vaccines. The full press release 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?
Like Haitians themselves, coffee has African roots. Throughout much of its colonial and post-colonial history, coffee was a major export and source of livelihoods. However, mismanagement, deforestation, natural disasters, political instability, and embargos have resulted in a dramatic decrease Haitian coffee exports. Yet, Haitian coffee is good - unusually good. Can Haiti revive and expand its coffee industry? Just Haiti and Singing Rooster are two organizations that believe it can. Buying from either of these organizations is a great way to support both your coffee habit and Haitian farmers.
World Monuments Fund (WMF) is an independent organization that has been dedicated to saving the world’s architectural and cultural heritage sites since 1965. WMF accomplishes this through advocacy, education, capacity building, and disaster response. Each year, WMF releases a Watch List of architectural sites that are at risk. Three Haitian architectural sites were listed on the 2012 Watch List: (1) The San Souci Palace in Milot; (2) the Gingerbread Houses of Port au Prince; and (3) the Jacmel Historic District. Read about these sites and how to get involved in their protection below.