As the new year approaches, Haitians get ready to do two things – paint their houses and prepare a big batch of pumpkin soup (soup joumou). Epicurious writer Sam Worley shares his experiences becoming familiar with soup joumou and what it represents to Haitians. This recipe is a good start but everyone makes theirs a little different. Vegetarians can just leave out the meat. Interested in learning more about soup joumou and Haitian food more broadly? Check out the "Liberty in a Soup" documentary or one of the many websites featuring Haitian dishes such as Home is Home (Lakay se Lakay) or Haitian Cooking. Have a favorite website or cookbook? Please share in the comments section.
MSF (Doctors Without Borders) has been present in Haiti for over 19 years, including by providing 24/7 maternal health care at its clinic in Port au Prince. All contributions received between December 13-31 will be matched by ELMA Relief Foundation, a private charitable foundation that supports communities affected by disasters. If you are interested in making a contribution to help Haiti over the holiday season, protecting the health of women and children is a great way to do it. Thanks to ELMA Relief Foundation, your contribution will now go farther. For more information, read Jude Webber's article on the state of maternal health care in Haiti and MSF's role in promoting it. Click here to make your contribution.
Below is an article by David McFadden (AP) concerning the 50,000 people who remain in camps seven years after the earthquake. Not everyone in the camps was/is is a victim of the earthquake. Some were victims of abject poverty and the camps were better places to be than the slums where they were living. Ninety six percent of those living in the camps left - either on their own or with assistance from a range of organizations. Solutions remain elusive for those who remain.
In collaboration with Doctors Without Borders (French acronym: MSF), photojournalist Benedicte Kurzen took a series of photos with sexual assault survivors in Port au Prince. The intent of the project was to emphasize their resilience, raise awareness and promote dialogue around an important but stigmatized issue in Haiti. To learn more about gender-based violence and other human rights issues, take a look at the U.S State Department's 2015 Human Rights Report for Haiti. Stay informed about MSF's work in Haiti, consider supporting them financially, and follow Kurzen on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
On December 1st, outgoing United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered an apology of sorts, expressing reget for not doing enough to respond to cholera while not admitting that it was caused by the poor sanitation practices of UN Peacekeepers. Had this apology been made five years ago, coupled with a committment to bring an end to the outbreak no matter how long necessary, it would have meant something. Coming months before he leaves office, one has the impression that the outbreak was not a priority until recently, that he is seeking to tie up the loose ends of his legacy before stepping down, or both. The full article by IRIN writer Samuel Oakford is below and information on efforts to hold the United Nations accountable can be found at the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH).
When thinking of Haitian exports, mangos, coffee, and rum may come to mind. However, Haiti was once and could be yet again a significant producer of cacao – the raw form of cocoa that is roasted and converted into chocolate. Expanding cacao production would mean livelihoods for farmers in rural Haiti while potentially complementing reforestation efforts. This is, all in all, a sweet deal.
To be fair, the Haitian government is trying to demonstrate the leadership that was absent from the 2010 earthquake response. It is setting priorities and specifying what interventions it will and will not accept from the international community. Still, the government is quite fragile and has limited capacity. Some priorities are being determined not based on the needs of the survivors as much as the needs of the government to show that it has changed. New York Times writer Azam Ahmedoct reflects on how the response to the earthquake is shaping the response to Hurricane Matthew below.
Haiti cannot change that it will always be affected by natural disasters. What the Haitian government and civil society can change is the extent to which it plans, prepares, and mitigates natural disasters. Very little of the assistance Haiti receives is devoted to mitigation. Haiti's partners should expect, encourage and support Haiti so that it is ready for the next hurricane, mudslide, drought, earthquake or other disaster. It may be a week or a year away, but it will come. IRIN Migration Writer Kristy Siegfried explores whether Hurricane Matthew might encourage participation, partnerships, and prevention.
After several days, the destructive aftermath of Hurricane Matthew is clearer. Haitians say the heart can't feel what the eyes don't see - so look at these photos from Al Jazeera and the Miami Herald as well as aerial footage by the United Nations. There is concern that the flooding could cause an upsurge in cholera cases. Given the scale of destruction, Haiti's elections have been postponed and a new date has not been determined. The humanitarian needs are real - but so too is the need to better plan for and respond to future hurricanes. Elections are rescheduled for November 20th.
In Haiti and other countries around the world, mental health problems cause significant suffering by decreasing a person’s ability to complete daily tasks, work, learn, and/or build supportive relationships with others. Discussing mental illness in Haiti can be sensitive – but it is a very important and often overlooked aspect of public health.