I was reading an article on Carribean 360 concerning the International Development Bank's $760 million plan to renovate the Peligre Dam, in order to increase its capacity to provide electricity to the portion of Haiti south of the dam. Hydropower can be an asset to countries, but not at any cost. The Peligre Dam is a cautionary tale about the horrible things sometimes done by governmental and international organizations in the name of development. Development for whom? At what cost?
Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish, or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry. — Bill Drayton
I attended an interesting presentation today by Ashoka, an organization that supports individuals who apply their entrepeneurial skills to solve urgent social problems. Since 1981, the organization has supported over 1800 entrepeneurs by providing them with stipends so they can focus on their social endeavor full time, receive professional support, and access to a wide network of mentors from sixty different countries who can provide guidance and feedback.
In the mass media, when one sees photos of Haiti, it usually involves one of two things - a natural disaster or a protest. Though deforestation has damaged much of the country, Haiti remains beautiful. If photographs speak a thousand words, photoblogs are able to convey that much more. Below are some websites that feature either photo blogs or collections of photos from Haiti. If you know of others, we can post them as well.
I would like to introduce myself as the new Director of Development at the Haitian Education and Leadership Program; I’m pleased to have met some of you at the Haitian art auction in New York last month. If you were not’t able to join us, you can get a flavor of the event by viewing the HaitianXchange video. You’ll see some of the performances that captivated our 150 guests, including the dulcet tones of Manze Dayila and a special appearance by the dance and drumming troupe Ayiti Dans Ansam’m. A picture of Manza Dayila, taken by Tequila Minsky is to the left.
I came across an impressive multimedia piece on Haiti's environmental damage in the South Florida Sun Sentinal. The piece contains impressive, and disturbing, photography of deforestation, erosion, and flooding. In addition, there are photo essays, interactive lessons for children, and a number of graphs and charts. The Wynne Farm is also mentioned in this piece. Unfortunately, the "community and solutions" section does not offer up any solutions. Despite this, this is a good piece for understanding Haiti's deteriorating environment - and the repercussions. You can access the piece by clicking here.
I recently came across a document I wrote years ago as part of a training for ex-pat health workers at the Hopital Justinien in Cap Haitian. It concerns how to provide health services to Haitians. I wrote it for two reasons. First, cultural misunderstandings in a medical context can have serious consequences. Second, I was bothered when I would sometimes hear expat health care providers complain about how hard it was to work with Haitians - as if there were something wrong with them. Quite the contrary. To be an effective provider, one has to know his/her own culture as well as that of the patient.
It was a busy year for natural disasters. According to an article in the London Guardian, fourteen UN Disaster Reponse teams were dispatched worldwide in 2007. Nine of these were deployed in Latin America and the Carribean. By way of comparison, the previous record was in 1998, when eight teams were sent out after Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America and Hurricane George came through the Carribean.
Previously, we have expressed our dissapointment in MINUSTAH after 108 Sri Lankan peacekeepers were accused of sexual misconduct, or more specifically, paying minors for sex. We do not believe this was limited to one brigade and were concerned that there would be few consequences for these violations.
The New Year is a special time in Haiti. The houses are re-painted, the soup joumou is cooked, and the church services run even longer than normal. It is a holiday of hope. With that in mind, Haiti Innovation hopes that you and your families will have a healthy and happy holiday season.
The International Crisis Group, an NGO with expertise on preventing and responding to emergencies, has released a report entitled "Peacebuilding Haiti: Including Haitians from Abroad" The report argues that the Haitian government needs to implement a long term disaspora policy with the support of the international community. With the Diaspora being over three million strong and possessing skills, connections, and resources that would be useful in the reconstruction of the country, we could not agree more. Seeting aside one day a year for the Diaspora is not enough - we need ongoing engagement.