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.
Below is a an article by Forbes writer Jo Piazza about Haitian-American entrepeneur Alexis Gallivan. With the management skills she acquired selling ice cream in Brooklyn, Gallivan decided to replicate her business in Haiti. Being an entrepeneur in Haiti is tough - it ranks 182nd out of 189 countries in the latest Worrd Bank "Ease of Doing Business" Report. To put that into perspective, Afghanistan is 177th. However, the Haitian diaspora is full of individuals with skills, resources, and the potential to create small businesses that provide training and livelihoods. Learn more at the Bel Rev website.
Homophobia is a problem in Haiti for many reasons including a lack of education and an environment still too permissive of human rights violations. Religious leaders may promote tolerance or incite hatred. Being openly gay in Haiti is both dangerous and courageous. Unfortunately, the Massimadi LGBT festival has been called off due to threats against participating organizations including FOKAL, Kouraj, and others. The festival will hopefully take place safely and at a later date. The full article by AP journalist David McFadden follows.
“Father Joseph” is an inspiring documentary about a priest and community leader who has devoted his life to empowering the rural poor. Father Joseph and his colleagues launched and expanded Haiti’s largest micro-credit bank network (Fonkoze), the country’s first rural University, schools, radio station, an orphanage, and more. While the earthquake destroyed much of what had been created, Fondwa has not given up. They are building it back, just as before, little by little.
In conjunction with Timberland, HP Inc, and the Clinton Global Initiative, Pittsburgh-based company Thread International PBC LTD has launched a three year pilot project in Haiti to street-level plastic bottle collectors by providing education, health care, and job training. The collectors perform a valuable service as plastic, n addition to being an eyesore, can leech into the soil and clogs drainage canals that are meant to divert water during major storms. More information from Plastics News follows:
Up to 7,000 Haitian migrants may try to cross the Southern California border in the months ahead. The majority of these migrants were given humanitarian visas to live and work in Brazil following the earthquake. While there were many opportunities to work in the lead-up to the Olympics, the Brazilian economy has taken a beating as of late. As work became harder to find, Haitian migrants increasingly sought opportunities elsewhere - and often travelling dangerous routes to do so.
Poverty Inc. is a documentary about the organizations created to address poverty and the extent to which they succeed in doing so. Haiti features prominently in this documentary and offers cautionary lessons about how sometimes those who claim to be helping Haiti and other countries like it are in reality helping themselves.
As one of the few countries in the world where sanitation had gotten worse over the past twenty years, Haiti was highly vulnerable to the cholera outbreak in 2010. After years of obfuscation, the United Nations has finally admitted that the epidemic was imported by UN peacekeepers. That it has happened at all is testament to the efforts of Haitian civil society and the advocacy of organizations like the Institute of Democracy and Justice in Haiti. The UN intends to release a response plan in two weeks. More information from AFP follows.
The Miami Herald’s Jacqueline Charles has covered the re-development of the Fort National neighborhood in Port au Prince. This project required extensive consultations with residents, community leaders, and gang members to even begin. Port au Prince, with its ever-growing population, has no shortage of neighborhoods where electricity, water, and common spaces were an afterthought.
In Haiti, most people travel around in tap-taps - pick up trucks that cram people, both sitting and standing, into the back. It can be crowded and uncomfortable but talking, telling stories, and sharing jokes makes the time go by. I thought about this when Lonely Planet posted a story about Lakou Mizik being on a flight that was delayed six hours. The band jumped up and gave an impromptu concert.