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.
In late 2006, we were blogging about Haiti’s kidnapping crisis. Now in late 2009, we are blogging about investment opportunities. Much has changed. Just last week, hundreds of potential investors gathered for the largest investment conference ever held in Haiti, organized by the Inter American Development Bank with financial support from the Canadian government. Will trade become more important than aid some day? This depends on the answers to two questions. First, can investors make a return on their investments? Second, will the government allocate new resources in an effective, accountable way that benefits all of Haiti and not just the cities?
The Haitian Education and Leadership Program (HELP) is Haiti's largest provider of scholarships for talented youth who would not otherwise be able to afford a higher education. Digicel, a major supporter of education programs, has taken note and provided HELP a $10,000 grant as well as two new phone lines with $1,200 of prepaid talk time. In addition, an anonymous donor has recently offered HELP a $25,000 challenge grant. This is an excellent opportunity for HELP to expand educational opportunities to a new generation of future community, corporate, and government leaders.
The past year has been hard for Haiti. As usual, an emergency occurred that galvanized the attention of the international community temporarily. Humanitarian responders ramped up operations to deal with the crisis at hand. Commitments were made from donors, some of which were even kept. But other emergencies happened around the world in other countries, and the political will to help Haiti make it from emergency to development mode fades. Below is a Miami Herald article by Jacqueline Charles, touching on the issue of "Haiti Fatigue." Has the world grown tired of Haiti?