HELP Haiti Fundraiser at the Haitian Embassy (June 27th, 2008)

  • Posted on: 7 June 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

In a just world, income level would not be a barrier to an education.  The Haitian Education Leadership Program (HELP) is a top-notch initiative that  provides scholarships to high performing, disadvantaged students.  100% of HELP graduates are now employed, using their education to promote economic progress and to rebuild the Haitian middle class - an essential component of a functional democracy.  The fundraiser will take place at the Haitian Embassy in Washington DC and there will be food, music, and a variety of speakers including two HELP graduates.  Take a look at the HELP website and consider attending this worthwhile event.

Haiti Food Security Update (6/6/2008)

  • Posted on: 7 June 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Everyone agrees urgent action is needed to address global food security but no one seems to agree on what should be done.  The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) called a summit to discuss steps for addressing food insecurity.  Anytime +180 countries need to come to an agreeement on this issue, there are bound to be "food fights."   If, as the FAO says, food output must double by 2050 to meet demand, we have a long way to go. While there were no shortage of ideas raised at the Rome Summit, only sustained committment and long term action will make a difference in countries like Haiti.

Mosquito Nets Make Charity Cool (New York Times)

  • Posted on: 2 June 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

I will be the first to admit I never really thought about philanthropy when I was young.  I didn't even know malaria existed until I was in my late teens.  It was inspiring for me to read this New York Times piece about children who have gotten involved in the fight against malaria, one of whom has raised $43,000 dollars! Children understand the damage malaria can do and the moral imperative of doing something in response.  A long lasting insecticide treated mosquito net is a beautiful thing indeed.  If a family receives one, retains it, and sleeps under it properly, it will have a major protective effect.  At ten dollars (or under) a net, it is an excellent investment, whether in Sub-Saharan Africa or in Haiti which also is malaria endemic.   The full article is copied below.  

Jubilee USA: Members of Congress and Other Leaders Urge Immediate Debt Cancellation

  • Posted on: 31 May 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Despite a letter signed by 54 members of Congress, the Treasury Department refused to support a Congressional request urging for immediate cancellation of Haiti's debt or a freeze on Haiti's current payments to the World Bank and others. Members of Congress recognize that in a time when Haitians continue to starve it is unethical to receive payments the country could use to feed its own people. A letter released last week from Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Legislative Affairs, Kevin Fromer, stated “there is no provision in HIPC [Heavily Indebted Poor Countries] that would allow Haiti to come to Completion Point now.” The press release below includes the reactions of Congressional and human rights leaders as well as links to the letters.

Dominico-Haitians: Stateless in the Dominican Republic

  • Posted on: 29 May 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Imagine being born in a country that doesn't recognize you and the possibility of being deported to one that you don't even know.  This is a very real possibility for individuals of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic.  Being denied the right to nationality has serious implications ranging from denial of health care, the right to vote, or even the right to work and own property.  Human rights activists in the DR such as Sonia Pierre have put their lives on the line to make things better. The issue is, thankfully, receiving more publicity than it ever has before.  Below is an article by the New York Times which describes what statelessness is as well as a piece by Refugees International and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center which explains what can be done to remedy this situation.  

Haiti Food Security Update (5/28/2008)

  • Posted on: 29 May 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

It seems as if everyone except Haiti's Deputies are desperate for Haiti to have a Prime Minister, and thus, a functional government.  Preval has named his second choice - Robert "Bob" Manuel, a close colleague and previous Secretary of State for Public Security. His chances aren't great and donors are concerned.  According to the Miami Herald, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is visiting Haiti to discuss the progress of various bilateral technical programs, such as a food program where Brazil has donated $200,000 and a trash collection program. Undoubtedly, they willl discuss the political impasse as well.  If this doesn't work, we may need to send in reinforcements - the much revered Brazilian soccer team.  

Justice from Lot Bo Dlo?

  • Posted on: 22 May 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf


Last week, Haitian survivors of a brutal 1994 massacre by paramilitary leaders at last received a measure of justice. Unfortunately, it wasn't a Haitian court that dispensed it. It was a federal court in Florida. The Raboteau Massacre was a joint military/paramilitary attack on a pro-democracy neighborhood in a seaside slum during Haiti's 1991-1994 de facto military leadership, carried out on April 22, 1994. Up to 100 people were slaughtered, many of them as they ran toward the sea to escape. The next day, survivors of the attack filed complaints in Haiti with a local judge. In 2000, they won the convictions of 53 paramilitary leaders, some of them in absentia, and a damages award of $1 million gourdes. The trial was praised by international observers as fair to victims and defendants alike, and was one of the most important human rights trials ever in the Western Hemisphere.

Sanitation: The Overlooked and Under-Appreciated Life Saver

  • Posted on: 21 May 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Sanitation is an often overlooked but very important component of public health.  The United States government has an HIV/AIDS Coordinator, a Malaria Coordinator, and an Avian Influenza Coordinator.  However, if we really wanted to focus on saving the lives of children worldwide, we would have a global diarrhea coordinator.  As Rose George writes in the article below, "excrement is the real weapon of mass destruction."  Alas, it is not a sexy public health issue and celebrities are unlikely to rally around this cause.  But in countries such as Haiti, providing adequate sanitation is an essential part of promoting public health.  The full article is below.  

Wyclef Jean Creates New Partnerships to Fight Hunger

  • Posted on: 20 May 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

I was talking with a Haitian friend of mine not long ago who was telling me how proud he was of Wyclef Jean for what he has done to give back to Haiti. I couldn't agree more.  Wyclef knows the importance of coordination.  To that end, he has taken the lead in creating a new partnership between his Yele Foundation, the World Food Programme, and the Pan American Development Foundation.  The joint project is called Together For Haiti and focuses on food security, assistance, livelihoods, and agricultural production.  Wyclef has involved numerous celebrities and companies as well.  Below is the article as it appeared in the Miami Herald today.  

 

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