Remote mountain villages and dense urban slums in Haiti will usually have multiple churches but finding a library is a rarity indeed. AFP journalist Amelia Baron documents below an effort by residents the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port au Prince to develop a free library where youth can learn. Many of us living in developed countries may take libraries for granted. In a country like Haiti where half the population cannot read and write, they are especially important. More information about the library's creation follows.
Individuals and groups give more than $70 million in donations every year to hundreds of orphanages in Haiti. However, these orphanages vary wildly in terms of accountability - some are well-managed while others abuse and exploit children. Children in orphanages should have their rights respected and opportunities for a better future. It is important to remember though that most childen in Haitian orphanages are not orphans. They are children from large families that could not afford to take care of them. If their parents had consistent access to family planning, there would be far less need for orphanages in the first place. Children's Rights NGO Lumos advises that funding would be better spent on helping Haiti to develop a proper foster care and adoption system. The full article on this subject by Anastasia Moloney of the Reuters Foundation follows.
Trade is more important to Haiti’s future than aid. This includes agricultural revitalization, industrial development, and perhaps growth in the tourism sector. Jacmel, Haiti’s city of art, has always been one of its most appealing cities. While the city took serious damage during the earthquake, the Capponi Group and the Jacmel Advisory Council are collaborating in the development of Jacmel's downtown, including the construction of a hotel. At the same time, Yele has committed to developing Jacmel’s first tourism training school. Concept art and video can be found on the Capponi Group website. Additional information follows.
Since 1988, the Haitian Education and Leadership Program (HELP) has provided scholarships to high performing students throughout Haiti based solely on merit. HELP is still going strong and recently upgraded its website with support from the Mastercard Foundation. It may well be that the only activity that counts as "sustainable development" is education. Knowledge and skills can’t be taken away. In a country where over 40% of the population is under the age of fourteen, education empowers individuals to improve themselves, their communities, and their country. More information about HELP follows.
Lens, the New York Times photography blog, recently covered a Zanmi Lakay photography project in Jacmel. Through Zanmi Lakay, 28 Haitian children were given cameras and asked to document different aspects of daily life in a city trying to recover and rebuild. A description of the project is below. The photos are well worth a look and you can view them by clicking here. Who knows? Perhaps one day, some of these children will become photojournalists themselves.
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.
"Timoun se moun" (children are people too). In Haiti, far too many children are treated as less than people. CNN's Sanjay Gupta recently travelled to Haiti to learn more about the restavek practice. His blog is below. All social problems have solutions, and while the attention of foreigners to this issue is welcome, lasting change must come from within. One person fighting to bring about this change is Jean Robert Cadet, who was himself a restavek fourty years ago. He has gone on to found the Jean Robert Cadet Foundation and has devoted his life to ensuring no one else experiences what he did. Far from a victim, he is a hero and a change agent.
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.
Jule Hanus from the Art of Living Foundation sent us a video clip featuring a Youth Leadership Training Program which incorporates music, dance, yoga, and environmental preservation. Take a look at it by clicking here. Even when the Haitian government (someday) releases a strategy and appeals for funds to support nationwide reforestation communities will do the heavy lifting. In a country, where almost half the population is under fifteen years of age, there are many opportunities to involve the young in reforestation.