According to Caribbean Net News, Haitian Prime Minister Jacques-Édouard Alexis gave a speech on March 28th to the Organization of American States (OAS) highlighting significant improvements in both security and governannce. A stable, democratic Haiti is strategically important to the Americas. Haiti needs the help of its neighbors but doing so will require convincing them that Haiti can sustain this progress - that this is not another false promise.
According to the Haiti Xchange site, the Haitian government announced the opening of a newly constructed marketplace on Route des Freres in Petionville. The idea is to reduce some of the congestion in Petionville, once one of Haiti's most polished neighborhoods. I like the boisterous street symphony of everday life, but Petionville is overflowing with street merchants. Giving them a safe, clean place to sell their goods seems a sensible move - provided they can get the licenses required to do so and that taxes are not excessive.
In light of World Water Day, I wanted to highlight a Frontline multimedia piece on water scarcity in Haiti by Shoshana Guy. Though not recent (it was produced after Tropical Storm Jean) the key issues are as valid now as then. Haitians continue to struggle both from having too little water to drink and from having more water than cab be absorbed after seasonal rains. The result is flooding/mud slides such as those which decimated Gonaives.
Climbing the mountains of Kenscoff recently where the hills are sonorous with picks and hoes Bourik BOS discovered it was planting season. Bourik also discovered that it is kite season. The skies are filled with make shift kites all around the city and the hills.
Sitting in Project Medishare's office in Thomonde, located in the Plateau Centrale, I overhear the sounds of pounding drums and overpowering song. During the days leading up from Carnival to Easter it is not unusual to come across a Rara band in the rural roads of Haiti. Especially in time for the final week of Easter, Thomonde has Rara bands parading down the streets with drums, maracas, guiros, and cylindrical metal trumpets. The bands construct unique instruments such as trumpets made from cans imprinted with "USAID Vitamin A Fortified Oil" to produce an amazing variety of rhythms and melody that attests to Haitians' creativity and inventiveness.
If this were a blog about HIV or Malaria, I could write about the advances that we have seen in the past year. Alas, this is just a blog about tuberculosis - a disease as old as humanity that we have not yet been able to tame. One third of the world's population is infected with tuberculosis. Clearly, much more remains to be done for Haiti and for the world.
We often write about the remarkable gains that Haiti has made in halting and reversing HIV/AIDS. It is a story that deserves to be told and heard more often. Haiti's own Partners in Health (PIH) is taking what it has learned in Haiti and using it to make a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa. Lesotho may be the biggest challenge the organization has faced yet, but they are clearly up to it. Africa continues to be a source of inspiration and strength to many Haitians but it is not a one sided relationship. Through PIH, Haiti is giving back.
The Maine based Konbit Sante group continues to make a difference in Northern Haiti by investing in the human and physical infrastructure that the Hospital Justinien needs to become the hospital that Cap Haitian deserves. In recognition of their efforts, Konbit Sante was recently awarded a $30,000 grant from the Dorthea Ross Haus Foundation to build a pediatric emergency room at Justinian Hospital. The project, which is expected to take six months to complete, will also help improve water and sanitation in the pediatric facility.
A recent article in the New York Times took a look at two gyms in Port au Prince - a Gold's Gym in the wealthiest suburb of Port au Prince and one of the home-made gyms which are far more common both in the city and the countryside. The homemade gyms are nothing compared to a Gold's Gym - but they are testament to Haitian creativity and possess a sense of camraderie that you will not find at an establishment that caters to the rich. Exercise can be empowering and as Haitian bodybuilder Julien Mr. Spencer puts it, "You can't buy fitness."