- Don't just read about Haiti, see it! Matt has uploaded a number of interesting new photos to the Haiti Innovation Flickr Site. They include shots of a Vodoun ceremony, Port au Prince's fragile but beautiful gingerbread houses, coastal life, and grafitti art in Port au Prince.
Port au Prince
Although one would not know it from most mass media coverage of Haiti, it is a beautiful, little country. For that reason, I was happy to read Amy Wilentz's excellent article in Conde Naste. She describes her own love affair with Haiti and then lists where a person can stay and play. As I read it, I thought of all the things I miss about Haiti - the sandy beaches, drinking rum punch, listening to racine music, going to vodoun ceremonies, napping on straw mats, talking on porches, as well as the countryside camraderie and never-ending jokes and pranks. For some, it is time to visit Haiti for the first time. For many of us, it is time to go back.
Haiti's long term development depends on agriculture. Yet most of Haiti's population relies on what could be called a faith based approach to agriculture - pray you get enough rain at the right time. Ressurecting Haiti's agricultural sector requires effective irrigation systems. Below is a description of an irrigation project that USAID completed with IOM and CHF in the Plaine de Cul de Sac outside of Port au Prince. The photo above illustrates what the waterways were like before the project...
CHIBAS is a non profit organization dedicated to developing the bio-fuel sector in Haiti. From June 24-25, CHIBAS will host Haiti's first Jatropha Stakeholders Conference in Port au Prince. This confrence will bring together NGOs, the private sector, and the government to help build partnerships needed to make jatropha a viable biofuel for Haiti. An invite to the event is attached. If you need further information, you can reach founder Gael Pressoir at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Haitian Education and Leadership Program (HELP) provides merit based scholarships to high performing students, no matter their socio-economic status. Many graduates have gone on to be health care providers, educators, and community organizers. Last week, former President Bill Clinton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon visited the HELP Haiti Center. Both Clinton and Ki-Moon said they were impressed and inspired by what they saw at HELP and pledged to remain engaged. As Clinton put it, programs such as this one show success is possible in Haiti.
‘Apre dans tanbou a lou’---Amid some of Haiti’s chronic concerns, upcoming senatorial elections, unstable gas prices, and food insecurity, tens of thousands of Haitians still managed to put all their troubles aside and revel in 3 days of carnival festivities which culminated yesterday during Mardi Gras under an unusual downpour of rain.
There is a Haitian Proverb, “fanm se poto mitan.” It means that women are the central pole of life, they support society. Sadly, the maternal clinics in Port au Prince are not able to support the numbers of pregnant mothers seeking a safe facility to give birth in. Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald describes the under-resourced hospitals, their over-worked staff, and the negative impact on the health of women and children. As Paul Farmer notes in the article, ``…If you are really serious about reducing maternal mortality, you have to stay in the game a long time.'' You can read this and other Haiti related stories on the Miami Herald website. Then take a look at the short video and photos that convey the gravity of the situation.
Monday marked the 20th global observance of World AIDS Day. Each year, this date provides an opportunity to reflect on what has been accomplished and what remains to be done. Haiti's significant and under recognized progress in its struggle against HIV/AIDS continues. In fact, Haiti's successes have been replicated in numerous countries throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. This is something that we can all be proud of. Below are some thoughts concerning World AIDS Day 2008.
Below is a blog we received concerning International Action's campaign to make access to clean water a reality throughout Port au Prince. Their approach is to provide cost effective tablet chlorinators and to build the capacity of community members to manage them. After reading the blog below, take a look at their website and this short video clip about their work. If you would like to stay updated, you can also sign up for their e-newsletter. There are ample opportunities to support their work whether as a donor, an intern, or a volunteer.
So I've been thinking about joining Rotary Club. Rotary is a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders interested in humanitarian service, encouraging high ethical standards, and promoting peace and goodwill around the world. There are about 1.2 million Rotarians belonging to more than 31,000 Rotary clubs in 166 countries. There are plenty of programs financed by Rotary International, but are there Haitian Rotary Clubs? Turns out that there are.