In the excellent New York Times article below, Catherine Porter states that death is a plentiful resource in Haiti given that the life expectancy of Haitian is 63.4 years - twelve years below the Latin American and Caribbean average. Dying in Haiti is expensive - families often take out loans at exorbitant rates to provide funerals for loved ones while other families are forced to abandon their remains. These bodies would be dumped like garbage, as was the case in the past, but for the efforts of St. Luke Foundation volunteers who transport them for simple, cost-free burials. Haiti is full of heroes, and the volunteers who provide dignity in death to those who lacked it in life, are amongst them.
“Father Joseph” is an inspiring documentary about a priest and community leader who has devoted his life to empowering the rural poor. Father Joseph and his colleagues launched and expanded Haiti’s largest micro-credit bank network (Fonkoze), the country’s first rural University, schools, radio station, an orphanage, and more. While the earthquake destroyed much of what had been created, Fondwa has not given up. They are building it back, just as before, little by little.
Robert Maguire, with Trinity University and the United States Institute for Peace (USIP), recently wrote a well thought out report (attached and below) on obstacles to stability and growth in Haiti. Maguire highlights important issues such as the neglect of rural Haiti, where most Haitians live, and the need to bolster Haiti's Health and Education Ministries. Throughout, he states success depends not just on securing resources, but on allocating them in a way that is accountable, effective, and demonstrates the committment of the government to reform. Something to keep mind if investment picks up in Haiti.
At the opening plenary of the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, Water.org co-founders Matt Damon and Gary White announced a $2 million commitment to provide 50,000 people in Haiti with safe water and sanitation over the next three years. Water.org has also launched a social media campaign so that anyone can participate in meeting the water challenge in Haiti. Click here to learn how you can become involved with either your time, financial support, or both.
Below is an article from the Miami Herald about Haitian American youth who increasingly want to make a difference for Haiti, not through politics but through service. An increasing number of Haitians and Friends of Haiti believe now is the time to implement a modest program through which Haitian American college students and/or graduates can serve in Haiti with an emphasis on teaching computer skills, environmental conservation, best practices in education, and English instruction. Haiti needs its Diaspora, not just its remittances, but its active engagement. Such a program would help instill a sense of committment among future leaders in the Haitian American community. We endorse the idea wholeheartedly.
Most would agree increasing trade is important for Haiti's long term development. Where people disagree concerns what kind, how much, and where. Haiti has never been an easy place to invest, but it has enormous potential due to its large multinational Diaspora, proximity to the United States, vast labor pool, and now the passage of Hope II. Given these advantages, is Haiti open for business?
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.
We get quite a few emails from young people with a week or two off of school who would like to volunteer in Haiti. Without knowing Kreyol or having special skills, opportunities are somewhat limited but they are out there. Through volunteering you can learn about the country, its culture, and develop an awareness of the developmental challenges, and just as important, how to addresss them. When you come back, that's when the hard work starts. You may well find that you can do more for Haiti stateside.
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.
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.