I finally got around to watching the No Reservations episode in which Anthony Bourdain travels to Port au Prince. While it is a shame that he did not visit Haiti’s secondary cities or countryside, he and his team were able to capture some of the beauty, the tragedy, and the potential of Haiti. He comes away understanding Haitians are trying their best to get their lives, communities, and country back on track. You can catch the entire episode (in three parts) on Youtube.
You don't have to go to Haiti to start learning about Haitians. In many cities along the East Coast, there are ample opportunities to experience Haitian culture. The Tap Tap Restaurant in Miami is a great place to enjoy Haitian food, music, and art at the same time. If in Miami, it is well worth a visit.
When people think of Haiti, they often think of hunger, and not without reason. Though there has been significant progress over the past year, hunger remains a pervasive problem. Achieving food security is fundamental to nutrition, health, education, economic growth, stability and all the other issues we lump under “development.” There are well intentioned groups, such as this one from Kansas, that often try to send packages of food to Haiti. It might make one feel good, but in reality, it does little good. There is much that we can do to promote food security in Haiti, but it is up to us to ensure that our time, energy, and resources make an actual, and not just a perceived, difference.
Is the third time the charm? Prime Ministerial Candidate number three Michèle Duvivier Pierre-Louis was approved in a 61-1 vote in Haiti’s lower legislative chamber. Sexism, homophobia, and power politics could yet derail this nomination. Haiti needs a Prime Minister in order to have a functional government that can tackle developmental challenges, chief among them food insecurity.
If you visit the webpage of the World Food Programme (WFP), you'll see an appeal for funds with which to assist Haiti is on the front page. We have a very serious problem in Haiti and the WFP knows it. Food insecurity brings political instability and the inevitable protests that are taking place in Port au Prince. Rural Haiti will feel the reverbations. It would not be realistic to expect WFP to feed all of Haiti. However, if the agency receives the funds it needs, it can ensure the most vulnerable individuals and communities are assisted.
When I see articles re-emerge about the clay biscuits the poorest of the poor in Haiti eat, as seems to happen every few years like clockwork, it frustrates me. We all know Haiti is a hungry country, but communities need solutions instead of pity, and partners who empower rather than provide handouts. Sometimes I read about well meaning groups in the United States that decide to box up food and send it to Haiti. Well intentioned but not smart - this is dependency and not development. Solutions exist and Kimberly Green of the Green Family Foundation writes about one in a blog she submitted to the Huffington Post. You can read it here but i have also copied it below.