Last month, the U.S. State Department released the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report. As in previous years, the report noted serious shortcomings in the Haitian government's efforts to prevent and respond to human trafficking. There is some good news, though - in 2014 the Haitian government enacted a law to criminalize human trafficking which is a welcome and much-needed step. The country narrative for Haiti follows below.
Travesty in Haiti: A True Account of Christian Missions, Orphanages, Fraud, Food Aid and Drug Trafficking” is not a new book, having been published in 2008. However, it should be required reading for volunteers, missionaries and development workers interested in Haiti. Drawing from his experiences as an anthropologist and consultant in the northwest, he describes how NGOs in the region caused serious harm in the name of development. Schwartz is frustrated but not anti development – he is against dependency, corruption, and disempowering the people we say we want to help. You can read a preview and/or purchase his book on Amazon. A few thoughts below.
The U.S. State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) is mandated to release annual country-specific human rights reports that address individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 2011 Haiti Human Rights Report is copied below. Haiti's development depends in large part upon the extent to which human rights are protected, especially for the vulnerable. That takes the engagement of civil society and a government with the capacity and political will to do so. As the report makes clear, much remains to be done before we get there.
Below is a guest blog from Esther Smitheram, who visited Port au Prince to work with FONDAPS, a charity founded by CNN hero Patrice Millet. She describes her trip, the FONDAPS mission, and passes on a request by Patrice for volunteers with backgrounds in administation and/or project management. An appreciation for soccer is a plus! Please share with good candiates you may know.
The response to the Haiti earthquake in 2010 was exceedingly complicated and much did not go well. According to ALNAP, over 45 evaluations to date have examined why. The attached report by the Brookings Institution examines one shortcoming in particular - the failure to protect women and children in an urban environment. Haitian cities remain vulnerable to natural disasters - women and children should be at the forefront of prevention and response.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Haitian and Canadian governments launched a maternal and child health initiative today, a continuation and expansion of two existing programs. Even prior to the earthquake, Haiti was a difficult place to be a mother or a young child. Through this initiative, mothers and children under five receive basic care without cost. The intent is to progressively scale up this initiative to 90 health care facilities throughout the country. The full press release follows.
Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) conditions in Port-au-Prince were not good even before the devastating January 2010 earthquake. Perversely, the poor often paid the most for drinking water. Against this backdrop, a number of international organizations and non-governmental organizations are working with the Haitian government to help establish a more effective and equitable water system. One of these non governmental organizations, International Action, has been involved with water related issues in Haiti since 2006. Below is an update as to their latest activities.
Earlier this week, the U.S. State Department released its 2011 annual report on human trafficking. While Haiti does have institutions devoted to protecting children, such as the Haiti National Police Brigade for the Protection of Minors (BPM), they lack resources and capacity. For the immediate future, trafficking prevention and response will remain driven by non governmental and international organizations. However, the Haitian government can make a major contribution by passing legislation that criminalizes sex trafficking and forced labor. The portion of the report devoted to Haiti follows below.
Established in Jacmel in 1987, the mission of PAZAPA (Step by Step) is to support the treatment, education and development of children with disabilities and to integrate them into their communities. During the earthquake, the PAZAPA School was damaged beyond repair. PAZAPA has since acquired new land and established temporary structures within which to continue classes. Both the special education school and the school for the deaf are functioning. Fortunately, none of the PAZAPA staff were hurt and stipends were provided to help them rebuild their homes. Below are excerpts from PAZAPA’s recently completed 2010 Annual Report.
Two years ago, we posted a blog about a documentary under development entitled Strange Things (Bagay Dwol). Directed by Alexandria Hammond, Strange Things follows the lives of three street children in Cap Haitian over three years. The film has since been completed and screened at dozens of film festivals. An abbreviated version of the documentary entitled “Children of Haiti” will have its national broadcast premier Tuesday, January 11th, at 10:00 PM as part of the PBS Independent Lens Series. It will include updates on the main characters and address challenges facing homeless children in post earthquake Haiti.