In light of World Water Day, I wanted to highlight a Frontline multimedia piece on water scarcity in Haiti by Shoshana Guy. Though not recent (it was produced after Tropical Storm Jean) the key issues are as valid now as then. Haitians continue to struggle both from having too little water to drink and from having more water than cab be absorbed after seasonal rains. The result is flooding/mud slides such as those which decimated Gonaives.
Climbing the mountains of Kenscoff recently where the hills are sonorous with picks and hoes Bourik BOS discovered it was planting season. Bourik also discovered that it is kite season. The skies are filled with make shift kites all around the city and the hills.
Sitting in Project Medishare's office in Thomonde, located in the Plateau Centrale, I overhear the sounds of pounding drums and overpowering song. During the days leading up from Carnival to Easter it is not unusual to come across a Rara band in the rural roads of Haiti. Especially in time for the final week of Easter, Thomonde has Rara bands parading down the streets with drums, maracas, guiros, and cylindrical metal trumpets. The bands construct unique instruments such as trumpets made from cans imprinted with "USAID Vitamin A Fortified Oil" to produce an amazing variety of rhythms and melody that attests to Haitians' creativity and inventiveness.
If this were a blog about HIV or Malaria, I could write about the advances that we have seen in the past year. Alas, this is just a blog about tuberculosis - a disease as old as humanity that we have not yet been able to tame. One third of the world's population is infected with tuberculosis. Clearly, much more remains to be done for Haiti and for the world.
We often write about the remarkable gains that Haiti has made in halting and reversing HIV/AIDS. It is a story that deserves to be told and heard more often. Haiti's own Partners in Health (PIH) is taking what it has learned in Haiti and using it to make a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa. Lesotho may be the biggest challenge the organization has faced yet, but they are clearly up to it. Africa continues to be a source of inspiration and strength to many Haitians but it is not a one sided relationship. Through PIH, Haiti is giving back.
The Maine based Konbit Sante group continues to make a difference in Northern Haiti by investing in the human and physical infrastructure that the Hospital Justinien needs to become the hospital that Cap Haitian deserves. In recognition of their efforts, Konbit Sante was recently awarded a $30,000 grant from the Dorthea Ross Haus Foundation to build a pediatric emergency room at Justinian Hospital. The project, which is expected to take six months to complete, will also help improve water and sanitation in the pediatric facility.
A recent article in the New York Times took a look at two gyms in Port au Prince - a Gold's Gym in the wealthiest suburb of Port au Prince and one of the home-made gyms which are far more common both in the city and the countryside. The homemade gyms are nothing compared to a Gold's Gym - but they are testament to Haitian creativity and possess a sense of camraderie that you will not find at an establishment that caters to the rich. Exercise can be empowering and as Haitian bodybuilder Julien Mr. Spencer puts it, "You can't buy fitness."
The article below (courtesy of bonpabon) announces that the Digicel Haiti Foundation met its goal of building twenty primary schools in its first year of operation. Digicel, as the largest foreign investor in the history of Haiti, prevents a compelling model for others to follow - a socially conscious corporation that provides a much needed product, employs a substantial number of local staff, and funnels some of its its profits into education projects. It makes sense for Digicel who will need educated employees as it grows and it makes sense for Haiti where long term development will depend on education.
A colleague sent me a transcript of Congressional testimony by Dr. Johanna Mendelson Forman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies here in Washington DC. The testimony gives an overview of how a biofuel economy could reduce poverty, promote energy independence, and ultimately contribute to stability in Haiti. A transcript is attached to the blog.