I recently came across a document I wrote years ago as part of a training for ex-pat health workers at the Hopital Justinien in Cap Haitian. It concerns how to provide health services to Haitians. I wrote it for two reasons. First, cultural misunderstandings in a medical context can have serious consequences. Second, I was bothered when I would sometimes hear expat health care providers complain about how hard it was to work with Haitians - as if there were something wrong with them. Quite the contrary. To be an effective provider, one has to know his/her own culture as well as that of the patient.
It was a busy year for natural disasters. According to an article in the London Guardian, fourteen UN Disaster Reponse teams were dispatched worldwide in 2007. Nine of these were deployed in Latin America and the Carribean. By way of comparison, the previous record was in 1998, when eight teams were sent out after Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America and Hurricane George came through the Carribean.
Previously, we have expressed our dissapointment in MINUSTAH after 108 Sri Lankan peacekeepers were accused of sexual misconduct, or more specifically, paying minors for sex. We do not believe this was limited to one brigade and were concerned that there would be few consequences for these violations.
The New Year is a special time in Haiti. The houses are re-painted, the soup joumou is cooked, and the church services run even longer than normal. It is a holiday of hope. With that in mind, Haiti Innovation hopes that you and your families will have a healthy and happy holiday season.
The International Crisis Group, an NGO with expertise on preventing and responding to emergencies, has released a report entitled "Peacebuilding Haiti: Including Haitians from Abroad" The report argues that the Haitian government needs to implement a long term disaspora policy with the support of the international community. With the Diaspora being over three million strong and possessing skills, connections, and resources that would be useful in the reconstruction of the country, we could not agree more. Seeting aside one day a year for the Diaspora is not enough - we need ongoing engagement.
There are more Haitian doctors in Florida than in Haiti. When you speak to them, their frustration is palpable. Many want an opportunity to give back to their country - but at the same time, they want the resources and tools they need to make a difference for their patients.
I recently came across a very interesting blog called "Black Gives Back", which focused on the activities of black philanthropists and black philanthropic organizations. It is well-designed and prominently features Wyclef Jean.
Websites do more than give information. They tell stories. Unfortunately, the website of the Haitian Embassy in Washington DC is not doing a good job of conveying, what is one of the most interesting histories in the Western Hemisphere.
We should be discussing the Restavek situation in Haiti. It is neither new or a simple issue. A restavek (comes from the phrase 'to stay with') is a child who is sent from one family to live with another family. Considering Haiti's history as the only people to lead a successful slave rebellion for independence, discussing restaveks can be a sensitive issue. However, I believe that we must.
I would argue that the measurement of progress in a country is not the quantity of money a person has, not the ammount of technology possessed, but rather the ability of that country to meet the needs of its children. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has just released a report which suggests we have a long way to go, for Haiti and the world.