There are a lot of places in Haiti you just can't reach by car. The goal of Mountain Bike Ayiti (MTBAyiti) is to promote mountain biking in Haiti. Working with the Haitian Ministry of Tourism and Pepsi Max, it has launched the first ever pro-am mountain bike stage race in Haiti, which is taking place from January 30 - February 2nd. Take a look at the course map and then click here if you are interested in getting involved with promoting mountain biking for both Haitians and tourists.
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.
Amy Wilentz understands Haitian culture, history, and language as few other foreigners do. This, combined with candor about her own biases and emotions, makes her a compelling writer about a country where nothing is black and white. Like many of us, she seeks redemption of a sort through Haiti. Throughout her most recent book, "Farewell, Fred Vodoo", she emphasizes that Haitian perspectives are the best ways to understand the reality of post-earthquake Haiti. Below is a review by Hector Tobar of the LA Times. More information about the book and upcoming readings are available on Amy Wilentz's website.
Below is a review, from Reason, of Jonathan Katz's book on the shortcomings of the international community's efforts to "save" Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. While no response to the aftermath earthquake, no matter how well-organized or well-resourced would have been sufficient, he emphasizes that the subsequent reconstruction effort was hobbled by a top-down approach that excluded governmental institution, weak as they may have been, local firms, and community groups. To read an excerpt or purchase the book, take a look at Amazon.
Jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis kicks off Haiti's week-long 2013 International Jazz Festival today. The festival features two dozen perfomers around the world and workshops for aspiring Haitian musicians. The full Miami Herald article follows and a schedule of performances can be found on the Festival Website. Let us know if you were able to attend this year!
The Catholic and Episcopalian cathedrals were two prominent landmarks in Port-au-Prince prior to their destruction in the earthquake. Plans are now underway for the reconstruction of each. A Puerto Rican team has won an international design competition to rebuild the Catholic Cathedral. The Episcopalian cathedral will be rebuilt by a Virginia-based firm. Each will be built back better, able to withstand hurricanes and earthquakes. Learn more at the websites of the Catholic and Episcopalian Cathedrals. Full Miami Herald article below.
Adoption can be controversial. In the case of Haiti, many orphanges are poorly managed and with little oversight. Major challenges are a lack of livelihoods and access to family planning information and commodities. Many children in orphanages are not really orphans as they have parents - albeit parents that could not afford them. Trention Daniel notes Haiti is in the process of updating its adoption laws for the first time in 40 years. This would being Haiti's adoption practices closer to international standards.
According to Trenton Daniel and Martha Mendoza, a ten year $2.2 billion dollar plan to eliminate cholera in Haiti and the Dominican Republic will be released shortly. The plan will be government-led with support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the WHO/Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). It is yet to be determined who will fund the plan and to what extent although the World Bank has indicated it will contribute. Although it will take years, eliminating cholera is neccesary both for protecting public health and promoting investment.
Lee Rainboth recently wrote a blog about a Travel Channel series called Dangerous Grounds, an episode of which was shot in Haiti. Due to the cultural insensitivity of the crew, the episode suggests Haitians are dangerous and unpredictable. In reality, Carmichael is just another fly-by-night visitor who didn't take the time to understand Haitian culture. In reality, Haitians are remarkably hospitable and go out of their way to help strangers. That having been said, Haitian coffee is excellent and well worth seeking out.
Today is Halloween, a day when zombies abound. Zombies have their roots in Haiti, specifically in the pain and suffering of slavery. Amy Wilentz reminds us zombies exist throughout the year. As she puts it, “The zombie is devoid of consciousness and unable to critique the system that has entrapped him. He’s labor without grievance. He works free and never goes on strike. You don’t have to feed him much. He’s a Foxconn worker in China; a maquiladora seamstress in Guatemala; a citizen of North Korea…” In zombies, one hears echoes of oppression, in Haiti and elsewhere around the world. Her full article follows.