In the weeks to come, I’ll provide updates on recovery efforts in Haiti sector by sector. Why start with education? After an emergency or a natural disaster, schools provide an opportunity to protect children physically and psychologically. It re-establishes a sense of routine, stability, and above all, hope for a better future. Technical and vocational education will be critical for developing a new generation of skilled workers and leaders. Without educational reform, Haiti’s recovery and long term development will be held back.
Maybe I should call this blog the Fuel Security update instead. The big news this past week was the elimination of the government gasoline subsidy which drove fuel prices up to over six dollars a gallon. With limited funds and infinite needs, the government decided to focus its attention on agriculture and other programs to fight poverty. However, transporting food and other commodities (or oneself if seeking health care) is less affordable now and out of reach for many. The tap-taps are all charging more. Also, the price hike is eating into the budgets of the international and non-governmental organizations which are active throughout the country. More money on fuel means less for programs.
In the past, we've written about the important work being done by FOKAL (Foundation of Knowledge and Liberty). While food security is priority number one for the Haitian government and its supporters, we must not forget about education. FOKAL will be holding a symposium called “Libraries and Human Development in Haiti." Speaking at the event will be George Soros, founder of the Open Society Institute, Michele Montas, journalist and spokeswoman for the UN Secretary General (as well as wife of slain radio personality Jean Dominique), and Lorraine Mangones, Deputy Director and visionary behind FOKAL’s cultural programming
It is not easy to find a library in Haiti. The Fondation Connaissance & Liberté (FOKAL) wants to change that. FOKAL supports 35 community libraries throughout Haiti. FOKAL also supports arts and culture programming, a debate program, grassroots initiatives, a preschool program and even water projects. FOKAL staff will speak at the Library of Congress in Washington DC on June 10th. If you do not live in the Washington DC area, you can catch the live webcast. In the meantime,take a look at their website to learn more about this organiztion. Education is fundamental to solving Haiti’s economic, environmental, and health related challenges.
The Second International Haitian Jazz Festival provided an opportunity for many of Haiti's best musicians to showcase their talents. Below, long time Haitian Culture Vulture Tequila Minsky writes about the St. Trinity Music School in Port au Prince, which is educating the next generation of Haitian musicians.