Sunday, March 28, 2010

Notes from Morse

When I used to go to those Regime Change meetings in Washington  DC six or seven years ago with Lionel Delatour, he always used to say that in Haiti, Washington DC was our "checks and balances". It seemed like such an intelligent yet smug remark at the time...

What Mr Delatour failed to recognize is that the Haitian People (The Haitian Masses, "Pepla"), don't have lobbyists going to Washington to sell programs to the powers that be. The reality is; the Delatours, Preval and the Elite Families they represent, have a "check and balance system" in Washington DC but no one else has access to that system. The system is costly yet effective.

This Haitian Triangle (the executive, the lobbyists and the families) have done nothing to help the Haitian people since the tragic EarthQuake on January 12 (the EarthQuake I like to refer to as SAMSON). All the Haitian Government and the FAMILIES do is have meetings and draw up papers and policies to try and funnel a potential 14 billion dollars into their own hands.

My Regime Change Meetings used to take me to the World Bank, the Inter Development Bank, USAID, and a host of others so, when i see these Institutions making decisions about post EarthQuake Haiti, I know how they came to these decisions. I've been there with Lionel Delatour and the Triangle he represents.

Local politics in Haiti are a crime..

Richard Morse
Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Friday, March 26, 2010

Clinton calls for self sufficiency for Haiti

Clinton asks groups to make Haiti self-sufficient

NEW YORK, Mar 25 (AP) — Former President Bill Clinton is urging the aid groups serving Haiti's devastated communities to help rebuild the country's government and ultimately put themselves out of business by fostering a self-sufficient nation.

Clinton, the United Nations special envoy to Haiti, spoke to representatives of the aid groups Thursday, ahead of a critical U.N. donors conference next week at which Haitian officials are expected to ask for $11.5 billion to rebuild.

"Every time we spend a dollar in Haiti from now on we have to ask ourselves, 'Does this have a long-term return? Are we helping them become more self-sufficient? ... Are we serious about working ourselves out of a job?'" Clinton said.

Haitian leaders have expressed frustration that billions of dollars in aid have bypassed the government and gone to U.N. agencies and to foreign non-governmental organizations, which operate independently and don't always coordinate with local authorities.

Clinton asked the groups Thursday to allocate 10 percent of their spending in Haiti for government salaries and employee training, to help the nation's agencies rebuild their decimated staffs.

He urged the aid groups to hire local staffers, consult with local authorities and structure their efforts around the Haitian government's plan, which is currently being finalized. Groups should make sure that the money they spend builds communities and infrastructure and creates local jobs, he said.

Efforts most focus outside the capital of Port-au-Prince, Clinton said, adding that Haitian President Rene Preval and others were eager to decentralize the country.

"For too long, Haiti has revolved around its capital city rather than just being supported by it," Clinton said.

The former president also urged the groups to participate in an online registry and make their expenditures transparent. And he warned that unless they take action to move refugees to higher ground, as many as 40,000 people could be killed if there are heavy rains.

Liz Blake, a senior vice president for Habitat for Humanity International, said that Clinton's words were inspiring and aid groups were willing to work with him, but what he was asking is difficult.

"Working yourself out of a job — which is working to strengthen the government of Haiti so that the support and work of a nonprofit is no longer needed — isn't a standard practice," she said.

But, she added, "All of us want to do what we can to support the Haitian people and work with the Haitian government, and do so even if we have to suspend our disbelief."

rice and beans and rice

(Amnesty International Livewire, 19 March 2010)
Haiti – Rice and beans, beans and rice

By Amnesty International delegates in Haiti

It might be one of the most common dishes in Haiti but for the 5,000 persons camped on a football pitch in Jacmel, white rice and beans has been their only daily meal since the earthquake, complaints about the quality or lack of nutrients are rife. Despite the crunching feeling of an empty stomach, many decided not to queue under scorching sun for the three-spoons dished up in a bowl, a jug, even a plastic bag. However, the 34 vats of food were emptied in less than an hour. The distribution of meals attracted camp neighbours, mostly children.

Dozens of women and men were involved in the camp cooking site. The food items were delivered to the camp by the World Food Programme. One of the camp committees decided that instead of distributing food rations to every family, they would cook it and share it amongst everyone.

Some pregnant women we met said they would not eat camp food because they feared being sick due to the poor quality water used for cooking. Taking vitamin pills they received from international doctors operating a basic clinic in the camp on week days caused them stomach aches without any food. Signs of malnutrition were apparent among them.

Scarcity and shortages of potable water are a big concern and all the persons we interviewed pointed out that “water is health, health is life”.

When we visited the camp, the two water bladders provided by one international aid agency were totally flat. The water had run out four days earlier and since then, the delivery truck did not come. A UNPOL officer present during the distribution of meals told us that one of the few trucks delivering water in Jacmel had broken down and it was most probably the same truck that normally delivered water to this camp. Until the water supply is re-established, the camp inhabitants will have to walk a long distance to fetch non-potable water. This was a task traditionally carried out by women and children but given the needs of the camp population, men got involved and agreed that it demanded a strenuous effort.

For others eating rice and beans would be something.

Like many other communities not affected by the earthquake, the village of Las Cahobas, located 70km from Port-au-Prince in the Plateau Central, has welcomed hundreds of displaced people. Most of them live with host families; those who have no family links in the village are reassembled in makeshifts camps and depend on the generosity of local residents. In both cases, they feel forgotten by the State and the international community. Humanitarian aid almost never reaches Las Cahobas.

We visited a family in their little wooden house. Before the earthquake, the household consisted of parents and two children. Two days after the earthquake 34 relatives, friends and acquaintances had moved into their house. Every day the head of the household feeds himself and 37 others from his own income and ensures school attendance for 15 kids.

In the same community, we met a group of 76 displaced people living in an unfinished house. A woman in Port-au-Prince offered to accommodate them there: They accepted, as the alternative was sleeping on the streets of the capital. When they moved to Las Cahobas they never imagined that two months later, they would still be dependent on the woman’s generosity in order to eat.

Both for the 38-person household and the 76 displaced people lodged in the unfinished house, receiving a few bags of rice and beans would at least give them some reassurance that the State will respond to their needs.

Food is not the only right they claim. They all realise that the State is failing them, as their right to essential health services and to adequate shelter are far from fulfilled. Children are also clear about their demand: They want to go to school and in order to do that, they only claim some clean clothes and a pair of shoes.

Economics of Medical aid

The article on Medical Services raises some very serious questions.

 I have reposted the article here

The medical system in Haiti was already bad.

We have over 1500 Haitians studying medicine in the DR.  I had a meeting with two of the leaders of the Haitian students in the DR and they said that the issue was also the Haitian doctors would not qualify anyone to work in Haiti unless they had completed their internship in Haiti. AND there were not enough hospitals in Haiti to even accommodate the interns from the Haitian medical schools! So there was little chance that any of theses 1500 students were going to be able to return to practice medicine in Haiti... even if they wanted to... which, the two students admitted, only a small percentage really wanted ...

HOWEVER... I do think that many of these students.. and many qualified Haitian doctors in the diaspora WOULD return to Haiti to work if there were adequate financing for them.

The DR has a state run medical system.. with doctors pressing now to raise their wages to $1600 US a month --- admittedly, it is not the best system in the world since supplies are chronically low and there is no sort of real subsidy for the poor who cannot afford medications.. BUT the DR accepted.. before the Quake... as many as 10,000 Haitian women who crossed over to give birth since there are very few facilities on the Haitian side of the border..
Only in Belledare is there a hospital.. NOTHING in Ounaminthe. and a small clinic in Anse a Pitres which Batay Relief Alliance is now staffing....

While indeed is a great gift that all these medical professionals are giving to Haiti, the article raises a very valid point that as long as medical aid is given out for free, there will be no money for Haitian doctors.

AND since most of the money that is being pledged is not coming in for support of the government, there is no hope that the few state hospitals are going to be repaired and upgraded and staffed.

Could we have some discussion on this issue? Should not the NGOs who come in be required to employ Haitian doctors who are on the ground? Should they be "charged" a fee to help build up the State system ( I hear the yellow journalists sharpening their pencils)...

How can there be some sort of sustainability built into this aid system?

(as an aside, I know of one Christian group that flies medical aid into Haiti.. and ALSO flies it around the DR.. via helicopters...when we have excellent roads and bus transport... but WOW these "Christians" must be servants of a "Great GOD" to have helicopters.. and it will certainly "pay us" to convert to Protestant from our "heathen Catholic " religion)

Trying to Unite Families

(Miami Herald, March 24, 2010)
Workers scour Haiti to reunite families


PORT-AU-PRINCE -- No one in the tight-knit group of neighbors in Cite Militaire knows exactly where Junior came from. The boy, whose lean frame makes him look younger than his 12 years, was found wandering barefoot through the city the day after the earthquake. He hasn't spoken much since.

Junior's eyes wandered nervously as a case worker with the International Rescue Committee asked him questions about his family.

``Do you know where you were born?''

``Do you have any brothers or sisters?''

``Do you remember where you lived?''

The boy simply shaked his head, no.

Junior is one of 400 children that a network of relief agencies working in tandem with the IRC is hoping to reunite with their families. Total number of documented reunification cases to date: Three.

The International Red Cross also has 70 children registered. To date four have been reunited with their families.

More than two months after the quake, thousands of Haitian children are without their parents. For some, it is somewhat by choice. Families sent their offspring to South Florida to attend school while their parents rebuild their homes and livelihoods. For the ill or injured flown to the United States for emergency care without their relatives knowledge, it was a matter of life and death.

One such case, that of Baby Jenny, was resolved last week when DNA tests proved she was the daughter of a Port-au-Prince couple.

While news of Jenny's safety brought an end to the anguish of her parents Junior Alexis and Nadine Devilme, the nearly two-month ordeal to locate and match just this one family illustrates what case workers are up against -- sorting through hundreds of such cases with little information to go by.

In most cases, the workers do not have DNA technology at their disposal. Instead, caseworkers rely on the clues children and neighbors provide to even start locating possible relatives.

``My father came to visit me,'' little Junior sheepishly tells the International Rescue Committee caseworker in Cite Militaire.

But no such visit ever took place, neighbors tell the caseworker. No one has ever come to see the child.

For now, Junior is living with a street vendor and her three children in a crowded one-room apartment, on a narrow street where chickens and stray dogs peck at the heaps of trash piling up.

The vendor is no kin to Junior, she just decided to bring him in when she saw the boy confused and alone.

``Be a good boy, I'll be back,'' Margareth Bien-Aime, the caseworker, tells Junior. She rubs the top of his head to comfort him.

Bien-Aime, 31, jots down notes in a green notebook, closes it shut and so begins the trail to find Junior's family.

Bien-Aime is one of 60 Haitian caseworkers working with the International Rescue Committee, UNICEF and Save the Children.

She travels nearly two-hours each day on crowded tap-tap buses from her home in the southern reaches of Léogane to Port-au-Prince. Her day starts at 5 a.m. and will not end until 8 p.m. when she finally arrives home.

In Port-au-Prince, she and the other case workers spend eight hours in the oppressive heat combing through tent cities in search of leads.

``All I can think about is trying to find those kids' families,'' said Bien-Aime, who prior to the earthquake worked as a children's counselor for 10 years. Even if their parents are gone, a relative might take in a child rather than letting the child go into the nation's burgeoning orphan system.

Part of her challenge is weeding out fact from fiction in each child's account. She has become used to children blurring the line between relatives and friends, dreams and reality. Since the Jan. 12 earthquake, children cling to those they know, referring to their friends as siblings, neighbors as aunts, elders as grandparents.

``I live here with my auntee,'' Junior softly tells Bien-Aime.

``Auntee'' is in fact the street vendor who found the child near the police station the day after the quake.

Curious neighbors crowd her apartment, each chiming in with their thoughts and prodding the boy to speak up. Bien-Aime urges them to be quiet. She doesn't want the boy, already in shock, to become more scared.

Having gotten all the information she can out of Junior, Bien-Aime goes in search of the street vendor.

Typically Bien-Aime will walk or hitch rides on tap-tap buses.

On a crowded Delmas street, she searches for the vendor who is taking care of Junior. Loomil Carrontong eeks out a living selling small bags of cornflakes, sugar and gum under a rainbow striped umbrella. On a good day, Carrontong might make $1. But since the earthquake, there haven't been many good days.

Although she has three teenagers of her own, Carrontong couldn't bear to leave the lonely and scared boy at the police station.

``Has the boy shared any information with you about his family?'' Bien-Aime asked.

Very little, Carrontong said. He may have a father in the rural town of Jérémie. His mother's name is Roseloure, but he has not spoken much about her.

Bien-Aime jots everything down in her green notebook.

She has another lead to pursue: the police station where Junior was found.

But on this day, there will be no emotional reunion.

Workers must often follow half a dozen leads to try to get something as simple as a cellphone number, or possible camp location of a missing relative. Often when they head to the last known location of a relative, that person has fled to the country side, or died in the earthquake.

For those children whose families are never found, relief agencies have started tossing around the idea of establishing a formalized Haitian foster care program -- the first of its kind for a country where children are often sold as ``restaveks,'' a term for child slaves, or left at crowded orphanages.

``Foster families is a really new concept here, but if we do it right, we can show that the model can work in a place where it hasn't worked before,'' said Carolyn Miles, chief operating officer for Save the Children's U.S operation.

Still, most social service groups say after going through such a traumatic experience, it would be best to place the children with relatives who can offer a sense of normalcy.

``They have just seen so much destruction and death and are surrounded by so much uncertainty, so we feel very strongly about not removing them to yet another place that is going to cause trauma and be unfamiliar,'' said Melissa Winkler, spokeswoman for the IRC.

But time is of the essence.

The longer the children are separated from their families, the more they risk being exposed to child traffickers.

In child separation cases in the Congo and Darfur, it sometimes took more than a year to link up relatives, said IRC officials. They expect Haiti to be especially challenging because thousands fled from Port-au-Prince after the earthquake.

``The reality is that you have families that fled to other parts of the country, and tracking down those families is a complex process that doesn't just happen with one phone call,'' Moor said.

The agencies are hoping their digital database with all the children's information and photos will help relatives in encampments outside the capital locate missing children.

``It is a process that doesn't always work, but it often does, and that's what keeps us motivated to keep looking,'' Winkler said. ``You never know who is out there looking for their lost child, or willing to take care of their nephews, nieces and grandchildren.''

Like Junior, many of the children are in shock and can't articulate their thoughts right away.

The volunteers can ask children to draw pictures of their homes and neighborhoods, and to talk about their daily routines. That kind of information often provides clues about where the child lived.

Until children can be reunited with their relatives, there are safecamps set up where instructors lead children in dances and songs. Neighbors and friends are also stepping up to serve as surrogate parents, and then there are those like Carrontong -- strangers willing to open up their home and heart.

She agrees to help Bien-Aime find out whatever she can about Junior's family, and assures the caseworker she will provide for the boy until then, just like she told herself the day she found him:

``I knew I would take care of him like he was one of my own.''
Exhaustive efforts to reunite hundreds of Haitian children with their quake-scattered families often come up empty.

Concerns of local Haitian doctors

(Washington Post, March 25, 2010)
Steady supply of medical services begins to pressure Haiti's doctors

By Lois Romano

Jerry and Marlon Bitar are prominent Haitian surgeons, identical twins who have done everything together for all of their 48 years. They both studied medicine in France, returned to Haiti in 2000 to take over a clinic serving low-income patients, and built a separate private practice that has given them national prominence and paid the bills.

In the weeks following the deadly Jan. 12 earthquake, they worked 18-hour days side by side, performing 900 surgeries and amputations free of charge between both of them. And now, their lives are defined by the same split reality: "before the earthquake" and "after the earthquake."

Sitting in their cramped office, the brothers tell the story of most Haitian medical providers and hospitals. Since the earthquake, Haiti has been awash with doctors from all over the world providing the kind of top-notch care rarely experienced in this chronically poor country. It has been a gift of epic proportions, the Bitars say, in a place burdened with disorganized health care, and high rates of HIV and tuberculosis.

But as the immediate crisis starts to wane, more and more patients with maladies unrelated to the earthquake are turning to international health-care teams led by the World Health Organization, raising concerns about Haiti's ability to care for its own once the relief teams pull out and need for rehabilitation and long-term care grows.

The Bitars ask what appears to be a simple question: How can the country's medical structure be rebuilt when hundreds of humanitarian teams are still providing health care for free? The surgeons say they have no income -- not from the poor and not from their private practice. For one, 700,000 people are now homeless with no access to funds. For another, the hospitals, the Bitars and others say, are finding it hard to compete with the visitors. With no end in sight, some of the nation's doctors have already left, and others are considering leaving.

"We have not been able to make payroll for two months," Jerry Bitar said.

Marlon added: "I am very worried that many of our good doctors will leave. The humanitarian hospitals, they don't ask for any money. Yesterday, I went to one and saw two of my private-paying patients getting treatment there."

Indisputably, international organizations are carrying the Haitian health-care system today -- and will continue into the indefinite future. Many Haitian health-care providers were among the 230,000 killed in the earthquake, and others have not shown up for work, dealing with their own losses. The nursing school at the University Hospital collapsed during exams and killed essentially an entire first-year class of nursing students.

"It is a very difficult situation," said Thomas D. Kirsch, a professor at the Johns Hopkins medical school and an expert in developing-world health issues who was recently in Haiti. "If these organizations pulled out, the system would be worse than ever, and as long as there is free care available, that's where the Haitians will go and the Haitian doctors will have no business. . . . There must be a well-planned transition period to subsidize the Haitian health-care system, have [nongovernmental organizations] work directly with Haitian providers, and to train sufficient providers and nurses to be able to meet the population's needs."

Nyka Alexander, a spokeswoman for the World Heath Organization, said that "the international community working in health will not leave before a system is in place, and this is precisely what we are working on . . . to build an accessible system better than what was here before the earthquake." One part of the plan, she said, was suggested by locals: Build mobile clinics so people don't have to rely on emergency rooms.

"It's going to require strong leadership from the Ministry of Health to develop new policies, training and better pay," said Dana Van Alphen, a doctor handling disaster management in Haiti with the Pan American Health Organization.

The Bitars concede that they are overwhelmed with the new needs thrust upon them, and that current resources are not enough to meet demands.

Down a narrow side street cluttered with rubble and garbage, behind an elegant tall gate, sits the Bitars' oasis of yellow, low-slung buildings, hardly touched by the earthquake. The inside of the Bernard Mevs Clinic tells another story. A dozen tents used as hospital rooms dwarf the courtyard because the patients refused to stay indoors, terrified of another earthquake. Adding to their load, several HIV and AIDS facilities were destroyed, and the doctors faced an additional 500 patients at their door, desperate to keep up with their medication.

The Bitars say they have enough HIV and AIDS medication, donated by the Gheskio Center, and some additional support from Food for the Poor, both nonprofit groups. Beyond that, the brothers say, they have received supplies they don't need -- arthritis medication -- but are low on such basics as sutures.

Many of the patients have been there since the earthquake. A beautiful 13-year-old girl with an amputated leg glumly learns to push herself around in a wheelchair. A 58-year-old man who was pulled from rubble sat for nearly two months before a volunteer physical therapist pushed him to take some small steps this week. A 39-year-old woman whose house collapsed on her and whose neighbors amputated her arm to save her life sits day after day in her tent. When she was brought to the hospital, the doctors amputated her leg as well.

"Our biggest challenge is the next step: Where do these people go to recover?" Marlon Bitar said. "Before the earthquake, we did a surgery, they would leave, go home or stay with a member of their family. Many have lost their homes and families. Now they are our responsibility."

Added Jerry: "Before, they would beg us to go home early after surgery. Now they are crying to stay here."     Last week, a group of occupational therapists from the AFYA Foundation in New York arrived unexpectedly. They had airlifted medical supplies and equipment, such as syringes, IV bags, tents, mattresses and blankets. They showed up at the Bitars' clinic and started to train the nurses in physical and occupational therapy.

"I am half a woman," Coreus Aieula told Danielle Butin, an occupational therapist who founded the group and who showed Aieula how to put on a bra with one hand.

"What's the point of saving a life," Butin asked, "if she is going to just sit there for the rest of her life?"

Obama requests aid for Haiti

(Miami Herald, March 25, 2010)
Obama seeks $2.8B in aid to Haiti

Exactly one week before international donors meet to help Haiti, the president has asked Congress for $2.8 billion in aid funds.


WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama is asking Congress for $2.8 billion in aid for earthquake-wracked Haiti, jump-starting a global push to raise billions of dollars for the country's reconstruction.

The request comes a week before international donors meet at the United Nations to plot how to finance a reconstruction effort that has been pegged at $11.5 billion over the next 18 months.

The funds will lay ``the foundation for the continued recovery and reconstruction in Haiti,'' said Moira Mack, a White House spokeswoman.

Aid organizations, which had pressed for $3 billion, welcomed the news.

``That is a substantial opening salvo in terms of Haiti's reconstruction and renewal,'' said Mark Schneider, a Haiti expert and former U.S. official who coordinated the response to Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

Observers say there is considerable good will in Congress for getting the request passed. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Wednesday called the emergency funding ``a must.''

The package includes money to reimburse U.S. agencies for some of the $843 million that has already been spent for relief efforts, as well as money to help Haiti rebuild its crippled government.

The package does not include direct budget support to Haiti's government as Haitian President René Préval had requested. But there is $219.9 million in debt relief and $433 million for housing, infrastructure and help restoring the country's energy, agriculture and industrial sectors.

And with 1.3 million people still homeless as the rainy season approaches, the administration is asking for $93 million to provide shelter for about 10 percent of the homeless.

There's also relief for quake victims: $72 million to help rebuild the country's shattered health system, $30 million in health care for the displaced and $8 million for rehabilitation and disability care.

The request includes $220 million to reimburse hospitals like Jackson Memorial for evacuee care. But it doesn't include reimbursements to the federal Department of Education, or to states to help cover the cost of educating Haitian children. School districts would likely be able to draw some money from funds set aside to help Haitians settle in the U.S.

South Florida school administrators worry that it may not be enough. Miami-Dade and Broward each enrolled more than 1,000 students at a cost of about $7 million.

``Federal entities need to recognize the burden on our school system,'' said Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who expects to enroll 3,000 more Haitian children in the coming school year.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ferrari Auctions 458 Italia To Benefit Haiti Relief

Ferrari Auctions 458 Italia To Benefit Haiti Relief

Security in Haiti

Amy Wilentz
I was in Port-au-Prince, Leogane and Carrefour a week after the quake. I also went into the La Saline bidonville in Port-au-Prince. I did not experience a moment of personal insecurity while there or anywhere in the area. Clearly there are still gangs in La Saline, and I suppose they are potentially dangerous. I thought that some of the young seemed the type who might have weapons, though I didn't actually see any weapons.  And no one made even a gesture or said a word of aggression to me or my Haitian friend, who was not a bodyguard or security person of any kind and was not armed.

Domes for Haiti

Domes for Haiti is an all volunteer grass roots organization dedicated to providing immediate aid to families in need of shelter as a result of the January 12th earthquake. We are composed of a group of artists from Brooklyn, NYC who are pooling our resources and skills to create emergency shelters for the people in Haiti most affected by the earthquake. We are fabricating portable geodesic domes made out of recycled and donated materials from NYC’s entertainment & construction industries. The geodesic domes are 17′ in diameter, 9′ tall in the center and are large enough to house a family of five. We are an all volunteer organization. We have no affiliations with political parties or religious organizations. We are working in solidarity with the Haitian people to redirect valuable resources that are otherwise headed into the American waste stream towards creating semi permanent shelters to people at little or no cost.
Shelter for the hundreds of thousands of survivors remains one of the most pressing needs in the relief efforts. We are committed to sending at least ten emergency shelters by May 1st, 2010 in time for Hurricane season.
Constructed of a framework of self-bracing triangles, the geodesic dome is the strongest and most economical structure ever designed. No other form of enclosure covers so much area without internal supports. The larger it is, the stronger it becomes. Geodesic domes have proven durable in hurricanes that have flattened traditional homes. What’s more, these portable geodesic domes are so easy to assemble that an entire house can be raised in a matter of hours. When properly anchored, geodesic domes can withstand winds up to 150 mph.
We are building the frames out of 1″ galvanized electrical conduit pipe at 3rd Ward in Brooklyn, NY. These are easily assembled on location using simple tools to bolt the sections together. The dome covers are being fabricated out of recycled uv resistant vinyl from theatrical and tv set backdrops at the Bushwick Project for the Arts. The material is both waterproof and extremely durable.
This is not a sustainable living solution but rather a transitional housing to be utilized while building more permanent communities. The dome frame is permanent. The covers have a life of approximately one year. We are partnering with other organizations which are offering a more sustainable living system.
Our organization will be sending a small team to Haiti to deliver the domes to the beneficiaries and show them how to assemble the domes.
We are artists used to finding creative solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems. We have the motivation, the tools, the skills and the work space in which to create. What we dont have is funding. We are accepting donations via paypal. If you would like to support our effort, even a few dollars can help.

In kind donations have been plentiful so far in this project. We have been given ample work space free of charge, shipping to Haiti free of charge, vinyl materials, nuts and bolts and plenty of free labor from our community. We’ve been given the offer from a local metal shop owner that if we can give him the 350 ten foot sticks of 1″ electrical Conduit Pipe we need to build the ten domes, his company will do all the fabrication for free! The conduit pipe costs just over two grand. We need money right away! Please donate generously by clicking the “BUY NOW” button to your right.

If you are an organization that likes what we are doing and would love to support our effort, please contact us asap at

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Haitian Solidarity

(March 19, 2010)


By Beverly Bell

Perhaps more than anything today, Haiti needs a new macro-economy, one based above all on meeting the needs of its citizens. Post-earthquake economic restructuring could include equitable distribution of resources, high levels of employment with fair compensation, local production, and provision of social services.

In the meantime, what saved many during the earthquake, and what is keeping them alive today, is a culture and economy of solidarity, or mutual aid. Solidarity is an essential strategy through which on-the-margins communities, and their individual members, can survive and thrive. Today the generosity is on overdrive.

Yolette Etienne, a development worker, commented: “The tremendous chains of solidarity of the people we saw from the day of the earthquake on: that is our capacity. That is our victory. That is our heart.”

Gifting and solidarity are time-honored traditions in Haiti, as around the world.  The non-monetary transactions of services, care, and goods are both spontaneous and organized. They honor human relationships and attention to the well-being of the whole, not just oneself. They minimize the role of profit in economic and social relations, and thus keep respect, cooperation, and ethics thriving.

Sylvain Pierre, one of the national coordinators of Tèt Kole Ti Peyizan Ayisyen, or Heads Together Small Haitian Peasant Farmers, described the tradition in Haiti. “When there were massacres [against Tèt Kole members] in Jean-Rabel and Piatte, when there were arrests, when there is work to be done, when there are political fights, there is always solidarity. When they know we need political pressure, they give it. Some people bring food.  Some bring wood, some bring water.  Those who have money, they give money.  Those who only have a little change put it into a sack as a collection for other members.”

What he described is not just organizational culture, it is in fact part of the national culture – many profiteers and crooks notwithstanding.

In the days following the catastrophe, community members pulled together to dig out survivors from collapsed houses, usually with only their hands or rudimentary tools. They unearthed corpses, set up brigades to clear rubble, and organized security teams in the streets and camps. Charles Arthur of the Haiti Support Group writes of an eyewitness report from outside of Leogane. "At the sound of the lambi [a conch shell blown since slavery to gather the community], people would gather from far and wide, picks and hoes in hand, to clear blocked roads, dig each other out, rebuild homes, and prepare to accept refugees."

Lina Jean-Juste, an unemployed community volunteer, told how she experienced the mutual aid the day the earth heaved. “It was a long night. Long, long, long. But you never felt alone. It was a huge collective grief without end. You saw people crying, then they’d sing.

“But it was sweet, too.  Everyone was working together. No one shouted at anyone. We all spent the night trying to get people out of their houses with our fingernails.  When we were finished, we’d go to another house and start over.

“One man who was by himself, all by himself, he went into a collapsed building 15 times to try to get people out.  It was so dangerous.  He pulled, he moved blocks, he found a saw and cut a steel door. He never did save anyone, but he wouldn’t give up.

“Someone asked for help to transport a fat woman. I remember a guy who said, ‘Okay, I’ll go. I don’t know what’s happening with my family, but I’ll help.’ I said, ‘But cheri, you have to go see about your own family.’ He said, ‘No, I’m going to help her.’

“My sister died when a house fell on her.  The man who she’d been visiting with, who was a friend of the family, wouldn’t leave her body until I got there. He didn’t even know yet what had happened to his own family, but he wouldn’t leave her.”

The Catholic lay worker Henri Mesillus recounted that, the day after the earthquake, he saw a young man on a street with four candies and a small plastic sack of water.  The young man passed the candies and the water bag to strangers who happened to be around him. Henri heard him tell them, “Don’t take too much water; it’s for all of us.”

Mesita Attis of the market women’s support group Martyred Women of Brave Ayibobo said, “We’ve shared our pain and our suffering. If you heard your baby in the ruins crying ‘Mommy, Mommy, Mommy,’ fourteen people would run help you. If you don’t have a piece of bread, someone will give you theirs.”

Everyone, once asked, has a story to offer. Economist Camille Chalmers told of losing his diabetes medicines within his crushed house. No more were available in Port-au-Prince, and without them he could not live. The word got out, and solidarity came in from other countries. Friends sent new supplies from Cuba, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic.  “Now I have a whole stock,” he laughed.

In areas both directly hit by the earthquake as well as those to which survivors fled, locals have organized themselves in the mutual aid tradition. Many have taken in others whose houses don’t have water, or who no longer have a house at all, to join those already sharing beds and filling up space on the floor and the yard. People have pooled their time, belongings, and funds to share food and tarps; look after the injured and ill; provide child care; give money for medicine; keep a protective eye out for women and children who are at high risk of violence; and take in orphaned and abandoned children.

Judith Simeon, an organizer with peasant and women’s groups, said that after the earthquake, “Everyone was helping everyone. What people had, they shared with others. It was truly those who had nothing who did that most.

“I put together a group of people; we each went and helped others. People didn’t have any food so we shared what we had.  The youth could get by, they could walk to get what they needed, so they weren’t my priority. I was interested in people who couldn’t get by. I used what I knew with dehydrated people, especially little children and elderly ones who were so weak.  I gave them oral rehydration serum with water, salt, and sugar.  I also used my knowledge of herbal medicines, how to use natural remedies with plants and leaves, to help people heal.

“During two weeks, two friends and I were taking care of a group of 14 children whose parents had died, while we tried to find their family in the countryside or other cousins and neighbors who could take them in. The kids were as young as three.

“No, I didn’t have any relation to them. It was our citizen obligation to take care of those who needed it.”

Gisner Prudhomme, an agronomist, and his wife have been hosting two adults and four children for more than two months. Only one is a relative; the others are neighbors who lost their houses.  Like Judith, Gisner seemed surprised when a visitor inquired about his hospitality. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “You have to.”

At the conclusion of the funeral for her 87-year-old mother, who died in the quake and is now buried in the back yard of her crushed house, development worker Yolette Etienne told the group gathered, “From now on, let nothing we do be for the individual.  Let it all be for the collective.”

(Next week, part II will focus on what organized solidarity could mean for a new national economy.)

Beverly Bell has worked with Haitian social movements for over 30 years.  She is also author of the book Walking on Fire: Haitian Women's Stories of Survival and Resistance.  She coordinates Other Worlds,, which promotes social and economic alternatives. She is also associate fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies.

Report from Amnesty Intnl Representatives

(Amnesty International, LiveWire, 15 March 2010)

The daily struggle in Haiti’s camps

By Gerardo Ducos, Amnesty International delegate on mission in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Two months after the earthquake, thousands in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere still await a first glimpse of humanitarian aid. In the four makeshift camps we visited during our first days in Haiti, life is a daily struggle and conditions are dire to say the least.

People are without water, food, sanitation or shelter. Resilience and solidarity with each other are the only things these camp-dwellers can rely on.

There are camps everywhere. Every single open space, on public or private land, is occupied by hundreds or thousands of people.

They are sheltered mostly under sheets and towels, in tents, under tarpaulins or, for the most industrious, in structures of recycled wood and tin.

In the camps we visited in Cité Soleil, Delmas and Champ-de-Mars, local committees have been created, improvising and taking charge of basic camp management tasks: coordination, security during the night, registration of families, activities for children, digging latrines or demarcation of common space.

However, women’s participation and representation in the committees is limited.

That said, most women are out and about in the streets of Port-au-Prince selling goods and trying to earn what they can to feed their families. At some distribution points, other women are patiently forming orderly queues to receive rice or other items from humanitarian organizations under the watchful eye of the heavily armed US soldiers or UN blue helmets.

The destruction in the city is vast and most of the government institutions have collapsed or are damaged beyond use. The authorities, like thousands of other Haitians, are literally camping and working off the road.

The Port-au-Prince police station is located a few hundred meters from what was the Presidential Palace and overlooks Champ-de-Mars, one of the city’s open spaces – now occupied by more than 12,000 people.

This police station hosts one of the few units set up to respond to violence against women. It so now reduced to a dusty table on the pavement and is manned during the day only.

Since the earthquake, several pages of a log book have been filled with complaints of sexual abuse and violence from women and girls, while in the camp on Champ-de-Mars, just across the road.

The day we visited the police station, a male officer on duty at the table unwillingly counted for us the number of cases registered in the log book: 52 cases of physical and sexual violence since the earthquake.

He said that many victims were minors, aged between 11 and 16, and that most of the assaults took place at night.

Although he knew where to refer victims for medical attention after a sexual assault, he was unable to explain why, on the previous night, a mother seeking police assistance in the attempted rape of her 17-year-old daughter by four young men, was told that the police could not do anything and that the security in the camps was the responsibility of the President of the Republic. Quite a blow for the population’s confidence in the police…

Wilson, a baby boy, was born the night before our second visit to Cité Soleil, a makeshift camp of 272 families.

The mother gave birth in the most unsanitary conditions imaginable: on the dirt, a few metres away from a canal of stagnant and putrid water, clogged with garbage and covered with flies and mosquitoes.

Another woman from the camp assisted Wilson’s mother in what was described to us as a difficult delivery, without clean water, towels or sterile tools to cut the cord.

The one-day-old Wilson rested calmly in his mother’s arms, unperturbed by our presence and the swarm of mosquitoes that invaded the space under bedsheets tied up with strings. That’s the home where he was born.

This improvised shelter provided little more than some shade, with no protection at all against other hazards. It leaves three children and their widowed mother exposed to the rain and the recurrent flooding in Cité Soleil and vulnerable to infectious diseases.

The rainy season looms and all the people we talked to fear the worst. Shelter is what they need and what they ask for. That is their priority.

Locals complain of exclusion from planning process

47 local and international NGOs and civil society groups held a meeting last
week to comment on the upcoming donor conference in New York. Afterward, 26
groups signed a statement that decried the absence of local input in the
reconstruction plans. The full text of their statement follows:

Haitian NGOs Decry Total Exclusion from Donors’ Conferences on Haitian

March 18, 2010

SANTO DOMINGO .- More than 26 organizations and social movements in Haiti
reported that the process established for formulating the “Plan for
Reconstruction of Haiti” at the donors' conference that concluded yesterday
in Santo Domingo has been characterized by an almost total exclusion of
Haitian social actors and civil society, and very limited participation by
uncoordinated representatives of the Haitian State.

The path set for the reconstruction of Haiti in the National Plan of
Post-Disaster Assessment may not meet the expectations of the Haitian people
as it fails to address sustainable development needs, and instead focuses on
restoring old development plans, rather than complete reorientation of the
Haitian development model.

“We regret that this document, produced by a group of 300 technocrats, is
presented to donors first, without first having exhausted a broad process of
consultation with Haitian civil society.

We believe that the meeting scheduled for March 19 with some organizations
of civil society in Port au Prince is no substitute for the actual
mechanisms of participation of the various components of Haitian society in
defining their collective future.

The crisis generated by the earthquake challenges us to initiate an
alternative process aimed at defining a new national project, envisaging
serious strategies to overcome exclusion, and economic and political
dependence. Through this new orientation it is possible to move toward a new
era of prosperity. We need to part with the old paradigms that have been
followed up until now and develop an inclusive process of mobilization of
social actors. To achieve this it is necessary to do the following:

1. Break with exclusion. Breaking this dynamic is an essential condition for
true integration, based on social justice and for the strengthening of
national cohesion. This involves the participation and mobilization of
social forces traditionally excluded such as women, peasants, youth,
artisans and so on. It also means targeted investment on the part of
official institutions associated with current exclusion, and the reinvention
of the Haitian state, whose practice should be geared towards transparency,
institutional integrity, social justice, respect for diversity, and human

2. Break with economic dependence. Build an economic model that encourages
domestic production, with emphasis on agriculture and agro-industry turned
first to the satisfaction of our food needs (cereals, tubers, milk, fruits
and fish, meat etc.).

This new model should not be dominated by the logic of excessive
accumulation of wealth or speculation, but oriented towards the welfare of
the people, appreciation of national culture and the recovery of our
national forests. It should also reduce dependence on fossil fuels by
promoting a shift towards the use of the vast reserves of renewable energy
available in our country.

3. Break with the excessive centralization of power and utilities. Develop a
governance plan based on decentralization of decisions, services and
resources and strengthening the capacities of local governments and the
establishment of mechanisms to ensure the direct participation of actors of
civil society in Haiti.

4. Break with the current destructive land ownership policies. Implement a
process of reorganizing the physical space in rural areas and cities,
allowing the development of public spaces and social institutions and
resources, such as public schools, public parks, housing, etc.. This
involves conducting comprehensive agrarian reform and urban reform which
would enable solutions for the hundreds of thousands of people who are
homeless. To meet these challenges it is necessary to redefine the role of
the state and its functioning.

Building a new model of development requires a comprehensive, consistent and
widespread mobilization of popular sectors with an interest in
decentralization and greater access to public resources and services
(health, education, clean water, sanitation, communication, power and
housing). Those who were traditionally exploited and excluded should be the
main protagonists in this process.

This national project that we foresee for the sustainable development of
Haiti, must allow a new system of public education that facilitates access
to quality education for all children, without discrimination, valuing the
Creole language spoken by all people, raising awareness in favor of strong
environmental protection, focusing on the preventing further vulnerability
to natural disasters.

It is necessary to reorganize the health system with hospitals in various
departments, valuation of traditional medicine, and particular attention to
women's health.

Reorganization of the justice system will facilitate access to justice for
all and will fight against corruption. We want a state that has the ability
to manage and direct the country, a state capable of taking the lead and
coordinating international aid efforts.

In terms of international relations, the country must develop new
relationships with friendly countries, strengthening our ability to defend
our interests and fostering friendship among states and peoples. With the
Dominican Republic we must formalize relationships around various issues,
including trade, binational markets, and migrants rights.

We request the cancellation of all of Haiti’s debts. The tragedy of the
earthquake should not cause Haiti to spiral into greater indebtedness.

The social institutions and NGOs that have signed this statement call for
mobilization and soon will undertake to organize an Assembly for the Haitian
People to address the challenges and to define strategies for the
alternative and sustainable reconstruction of our country.

Mouvement scolaire Foi et Joie, Media Alternative, Comission Episcopale
Nationale Justice et Paix, CHANDEL, ICPJLDH,REBA, TKL, Cellule Réflexions et
d’Actions Sj, Confédération des Haïtiens pour la Réconciliation, VEDEK,

Participants in the March 13-14 Conference
5. Fondation TOYA
7. Gammit Timoun
8. GIDH Group entevansyon
9. MPP
11. KSIL
15. SOFA
16. Mouvement scolaire Foi et Joie
17. AlterPress
18. Comission Episcopale Nationale Justice et Paix
21. REBA
22. TKL
23. Cellule Réflexions et d’Actions Jésuites
24. Confédération des Haïtiens pour la Réconciliation

Dominican Republic

27. Centro Cultural Poveda
28. Red Ciudadana
30. Plataforma Ayuda Haití
31. SJRM
32. Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo
34. Cuidad Alternativa
35. Comité Dominicano DDHH
36. Red Urbana Popular
37. Confederación Nacional de Unidad Sindical
38. Redesol - IDEAC
40. Cooperativa Unión Integral
42. Foro Social Alternativo
43. Articulación Campesina (ANC)


44. Alianza International de Habitantes (AIH)
45. Asamblea de los Pueblos del Caribe
46. CASAL de Solidaritat con America Central de Prat de Llobregat.
47. Manos Unidas España

Original can be found at:

Friday, March 19, 2010

The New Yorker.-..Baron Samedi

January 18, 2010
Cover Story: The Resurrection of the Dead
Posted by Blake Eskin

The cover of this week’s New Yorker is titled “The Resurrection of the Dead.” It was painted by the Haitian artist Frantz Zephirin.

“The Resurrection of the Dead” is not a direct response to the catastrophic earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12th; Zephirin painted it in 2007. But Bill Bollendorf, who runs the Galerie Macondo, in Pittsburgh, explained that the three skeletal figures in the doorway are guede, members of a family of spirits who guard the frontier between life and death. The woman in the wedding dress is Gran’ Brigitte, and the man in the blue uniform is her husband, Baron Samedi.

Elizabeth McAlister, an associate professor of religion at Wesleyan University who specializes in Haiti (and who took part in Sasha Frere-Jones’ two-part roundtable on Haitian music), offered additional interpretation of the symbolism in the cover image. She understood the wall surrounding the doorway to be filled with

the unblinking faces of the spirits of the recently dead. Just crossed over, they still have eyes, which are the blue and red of the Haitian flag.

She went on:

Below them are the waters, the waters under which lies the country without hats, where the sun rises facing backwards. This is where the dead spend a year and a day. An ba dlo. Under the water. Resting. Floating. After that when it is time, they will be lifted out, drawn out, by their living. If they are lucky to have children living and walking on the earth.

The dead are still with us, in the unseen world. They have a space. They have a time. They have company. They are not alone. They will be received. They will hear prayers. They look at us.

Bill Bollendorf says he met Zephirin in Haiti in 1989. The artist first travelled to Pittsburgh in 1995, and every so often comes to visit and paint. “He always takes a Greyhound bus from Miami,” says Bollendorf. “He likes to ruminate on his art.” On his most recent visit, in 2007, Zephirin “painted five fabulous paintings and drank seven cases of Yuengling beer—and he was here for eight days,” Bollendorf says.

In his paintings, Zephirin will refer to, and comment upon, history, politics, and Christianity and voodoo; “Bourique Chaje” (“The Overloaded Donkey”) is a critique of a comment made by an American ambassador to Haiti. Zephirin’s paintings often contain animals; Bollendorf says Zephirin once told him,”I’m an eagle. I hang above it all and see what I can catch.”

Zephirin’s home was in Mariani, near the epicenter of the earthquake. “He lives on a mountaintop in this voodoo temple, and on the second floor he paints,” he said. Bollendorf was unable to reach Zephirin for several days after the earthquake. Zephirin finally called him on Sunday afternoon, and said he was “doing an earthquake painting called ‘The Cry of the Earth.’ Painting it while sitting at an easel in the devastated street, he tells me.”


More of Zephirin’s work can be seen at the sites of the Galerie Macondo and the Galerie Monnin, in Haiti.

Prints of Zephirin’s “The Resurrection of the Dead” are available through The New Yorker Store; The New Yorker will donate all profits to Partners in Health, which provides health care and other services in Haiti, and has taken a leading role in earthquake relief efforts. Subscribers can read Tracy Kidder’s 2000 Profile of Dr. Paul Farmer, one of the founders of Partners in Health.

(Photograph: Bill Bollendorf.)

* Frantz Zephirin;
* Haiti;
* The Resurrection of the Dead

Read more:

Haitis Visionaries

(New York Times, March 18, 2010)
Out of Ruin, Haiti’s Visionaries


In a disaster, you focus on lives first, all else later. When the earthquake hit Haiti in January, the news was about the dead and missing, miraculous survivals, towns smashed to bits.

Behind this news came other news. One of Haiti’s proudest cultural monuments, the Episcopal cathedral of the Holy Trinity in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, had collapsed, destroying murals painted in the late 1940s by some of the great artists of what is often called the Haitian Renaissance: Philomé Obin, Castera Basile, Rigaud Benoit, Wilson Bigaud, Prefete Duffaut. Their images of verdant, fruit-colored tropical heavens had helped turn a politically volatile nation into a tourist destination, and art itself into an export industry.

The Centre d’Art, where these artists once met with André Breton, Aimé Césaire and Wifredo Lam, was seriously damaged, as was the Musée d’Art Haitien. Catastrophically, many of the 12,000 Haitian works, accumulated over half a century, in the Musée/Galerie d’art Nader were lost when the building that housed them, a family home, disintegrated.

Objects retrieved from the Centre d’Art and the Musée d’Art Haitien have been locked in containers. Nearly everything recovered will need conservation.

Far more difficult to assess is the survival of art produced outside the fragile museum and gallery network, though some of this work has relatively high visibility through commercial connections with the United States and Europe. A funky downtown section of Port-au-Prince called the Grand Rue was the scene, in December, of a first-time art event called the “Ghetto Biennial.” Based on international models but operating on a tiny budget, it brought in a few artists from abroad but was basically a showcase for a collective of Haitian sculptors who call themselves Atis Rezistans. The group’s three senior members — André Eugène, Jean Hérard Celeur and Frantz Jacques, known as Guyodo — work together in the Grand Rue, in a warren of cinderblock car-repair shops that supply the material for their art: rusted chassis, steering wheels, hubcaps, broken crankshafts, cast-off oil filters. With the help of young assistants, they turn this industrial junk
into demonic doomsday figures with giant phalluses and gargoylish bodies topped by plastic doll heads or human skulls.

These artists, all around 40 years old, belong to a generation that is internationally attuned — they have a higher profile abroad than at home — and has experienced life in Haiti at its most abject, which is saying something, given the nation’s scarifying modern history.

Their art comes across as a hellish response to the older painters of tropical idylls, though in reality all of these artists share a common bond. To a greater or lesser extent, and in different ways, much of their work is based on the Afro-Caribbean religion of voodoo — or vodou, as many scholars prefer to spell it — Haiti’s majority religion and continuing source of social and cultural cohesion.

Where Centre d’Art painters like Andre Pierre (circa 1915-2005) and Hector Hyppolite (1894-1948), who were both voodoo priests, emphasized the religion’s more benign aspects with images of regal deities in bosky settings, the Atis Rezistans group tunnels into its dark, dystopian, underground side. Many of their sculptures depict the ghoulish spirits called Gedes and their paternal leader, Baron Samedi, the lord of death, decay and grotesque eroticism.

When the quake struck, much of the Grand Rue was flattened, and unknown numbers of Atis Rezistans sculptures are likely to have been crushed and buried. An exception was a single colossal metal figure of Baron Samedi, which stayed intact and erect as if surveying the havoc he had wrought.

But the greater unknown is the fate of voodoo religious art. Anyone who saw the traveling exhibition “Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou,” organized by the Fowler Museum of Cultural History at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1995, knows how visually potent this art can be.

Voodoo has ancient roots in West Africa, where at some point it met up with European Christianity and, later, in the Caribbean, through the Atlantic slave trade, with indigenous New World religions. The result was a baffling, exhilarating, multifarious sacred art, which takes a visually explosive form in assemblage-style altars.

These are dedicated to specific voodoo deities, often embodied in a printed picture or statuette of a Christian saint, around which is distributed a purposefully crowded array of devotional objects and substances including dolls, Buddhas, Roman Catholic holy cards, playing cards, political portraits, satin-swathed bottles, perfume atomizers, rosaries, carved phalluses, Masonic diagrams, candles, kerchiefs, money, mirrors, fruit, rum, flowers and human and animal skulls.

The largest altars are often in voodoo temples, which can be rooms in homes or shedlike congregational spaces that are decorated with wall paintings and sequined ritual flags called drapo.

Wherever it is, the altar is a total, balanced work of religious art, a model of good ritual housekeeping. At the same time, it is unfixed: kinetic and ephemeral, meant to be added to and removed from, to be tasted, touched, lighted, adorned, fanned and fed.

It is a form utterly unsuited to conventional museum display, though the Fowler show incorporated several altars, some of them recreations of ones that already existed in Port-au-Prince. At the Fowler itself, and then in museums, as the show traveled to Miami, Washington, Chicago, New Orleans and New York, the altars invariably attracted voodoo devotees who left offerings of money and food. Clearly they saw no distinction between sacred art and museum art. Or, put another way, for them the presence of sacred art made the museum a sacred space.

By some estimates, Haiti has tens of thousands of voodoo temples, the bulk concentrated in cities, and most all but invisible. Tucked away in alleys and basements, or behind garage doors, they rarely announce themselves. This makes any attempt to survey them and the art they hold difficult under any circumstances, but particularly now, when the very topography of cities like Port-au-Prince and Jacmel to the south, renowned for its production of Carnival masks, has been altered. At least one of the Port-au-Prince temples replicated in “Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou” is known to have been destroyed in the quake.

But word has come that a celebrated maker of sequined flags, Myrlande Constant, after camping with her family in a tent city in Port-au-Prince for more than a month, is back at work in a borrowed studio. The mask-maker and painter Civil Didier, left homeless in Jacmel, is in New York, as part of a new, possibly temporary diaspora of Haitian artists that the quake has created.

Meanwhile, long before January, the Fowler had already begun work on a sequel to its 1995 Vodou show, organized, as the first one was, by Donald J. Cosentino, a professor of African and diaspora literature and folklore at U.C.L.A., partnering with the art historian and anthropologist Marilyn Houlberg of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Circumstances in Haiti have greatly changed in the two decades since the earlier exhibition was conceived. In 1991, when research was beginning, Jean-Bertram Aristide was president; the country was giddy with hope for the future. The hope couldn’t last. Mr. Aristide was forced into exile, returned and left again, under a cloud. The country has since endured extreme levels of poverty and violence. The tropical Elysium of older Haitian art has never looked more out of place.

This is the reality that Mr. Cosentino has set out to address in the new exhibition, initially titled “Haiti in Extremis.” And voodoo gives him apt images to work with, from the cult of the Gedes and Baron Samedi, guardians of the dead, who could, through cataclysmic fusions of eroticism and destruction, generate a recuperative vitality.

The Atis Rezistans collective was on the preliminary list of artists to be in the new show, which is scheduled to debut in 2012, as were contemporary painters and sculptors like Edouard Duval-Carrié, Frantz Zephirin and Mr. Didier, all of whom gave their voodoo sources a deeply fatalistic spin.

Then came the earthquake. And even before Mr. Zephirin’s painting of a skeletal Baron Samedi had appeared on the cover of The New Yorker, Mr. Cosentino was rethinking the show. He expanded its title: “Haiti in Extremis: After the Apocalypse.”

News came from Port-au-Prince that a particularly vibrant Gede temple overseen by the voodoo priest Akiki Baka, called Emperor Sonson, and situated near the Grand Rue, at the very epicenter of the quake, had survived unscathed. An altar from the temple would be in the new show.

So would art being created in direct response to the disaster. In other words, this would be a project whose shape and contents are, like life in Haiti, in the making and unpredictable. And it’s still two years away, which could be, depending on how the Gedes play their hand, never or forever.

Press Releases

Press Releases

Interview with President Preval

(Christian Science Monitor, March 17, 2010)
Global News Blog
Interview with Haiti President Rene Preval: 'I don't think we could have done better'

By Kathie Klarreich

Port-au-Prince, Haiti -- Without an appointment, the easiest place to get an official quote from someone in the government – including Haiti President René Préval – is the DCPG, the old police headquarters. But the only police that are there now are the ones protecting the government, which moved in after the Jan. 12 earthquake.

In contrast to the once elegant but now collapsed National Palace of Haiti, the new offices are in an innocuous, one-story blue and white building so small that press conferences are held in the parking lot.

That’s where I was standing when several shiny four-wheel drive vehicles pulled up.

President Préval emerged from one.

He was instantly surrounded by flashing cameras. He flashed a smile back at them, and then at me. We’ve known each other for 20 years.

Just like that, he took my arm and pulled me inside with him.

“Don’t you have some questions for me?” he asked.

As a journalist, how could I say no?

His office was down two halls and in the interior of another room. There was a secretary’s desk, a round board-room type table, a mounted television that wasn’t plugged in, and a coffee maker. Maps of Port-au-Prince and an aerial photo of the city hung on a side wall.

Ti René, as he is called among friends, placed a blue folder and author Claude Moise’s book “The Constitution and Struggle for Power in Haiti" on the table and made sure I had a cup of coffee before asking me if I was ready to write down my answers.

President Préval is, at heart, a simple guy.

The last time I interviewed him was in 2008. I was with a television crew waiting in an ante-room inside the National Palace. Rather than send an aide to come get us, he came himself, grabbed the tripod, and carried it to his office, despite the cameraman’s protest.

“If what happened to Haiti on Jan. 12 had happened in the United States,” he started, “it’s comparable to 8 million people dying. When the Twin Towers fell, it took them two years to remove the debris. Between the international aid and resilience of the Haitian population, we did everything we could. I don’t think we could have done better.”

Préval reiterated his call to hold legislative elections – originally set for February and March, but postponed after the quake – as quickly as possible. “Democracy is the condition for development,” he said. “Development equals equality. We must reconstruct the entire country, not just Port-au-Prince.”

When asked about corruption, he bristled.

“Everyone is talking about it but no one has spoken about one specific act of corruption," he said. "International donors are increasing their budget support for us. Why is that?

“Is there corruption in the Haitian government? Yes," he said. "Are we doing something about it? Yes.”

He began to search his blackberry for the name of a man who was recently convicted of corruption charges in the United States due in part because of help from the Haitian government. Minutes passed and he was still looking.

“Not to worry,” I said, wanting to use my time efficiently. “I can find his name.”

“No, my name is well known, his should be too,” Préval insisted. Finally he found it. “Robert Antoine.”

Mr. Antoine is a former director of international relations for Teleco, the state-owned telecommunications company of Haiti and he was one of five people charged in Miami in December 2009 in connection with a bribery and money-laundering scheme involving the government company.

Antoine was one of three Haitians charged in the case, all of whom kept residences in Miami. Another of the Haitians, Jean Rene Duperval, also a former director of international relations for Teleco, was arrested in Haiti by a police unit that specializes in investigating financial corruption and sent to the US to stand trial, according to the US Justice Department.

Préval spent the past five years shaking off the association of his name with that of Jean Bertrand Aristide, his predecessor. Now his name will be forever linked with that of the Jan. 12 earthquake, long after his term ends on Feb. 7, 2011.

Constitutionally he cannot run again, but he wants to hold democratic elections before he leaves office.

He also said he wants to work on decentralization, the reinforcement of the government, and the improvement of health and education services. But his immediate priorities are to open schools, provide adequate seeds and fertilizers to farmers, and secure housing for those left homeless after the quake.

When I asked how he responds to criticism that the international aid agencies have the supplies for housing but can’t do anything until they get land, which the government has yet to give, he just smiled, then said: “Interview over.”
Haiti President Rene Preval popped out of a shiny SUV. Then, just like that, he took my arm and pulled me inside with him. 'Don’t you have some questions for me?' he asked. As a journalist, how could I say no?

Calendar for Haitian Donors Conference in NYC

International Donors’ Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti on
March 31, 2010 in New York at UN Headquarters

Delegations are encouraged to be represented at the ministerial level
and will be invited to make brief statements summarizing their new
pledges of recovery and reconstruction assistance. The Conference will
be webcast live with select sessions open to other media.

Further details for delegations will be forthcoming in correspondence
from the United Nations Office of Conference Services and will also be
available through the UN Journal.

Participants will be asked to pre-register for the Conference through
the Conference website.

Detailed information on how to register, along with technical details
on pledge content and how to register pledges, will be forthcoming from

For media inquiries, please contact: Carolyn Vadino, Deputy Spokeswoman
for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations 212-415-4301.

Please note that this event is an opportunity for UN member states to
register national pledges of assistance to Haiti. Private sector donors
and others will have alternative opportunities to register their offers
of assistance. Unfortunately, capacity considerations must limit the
opportunity to pledge assistance during the event on March 31 to UN
member states, international organizations, and representatives
selected to report from the outreach consultations. .

Calendar of Pre-Donor’s Conference Preparatory Meetings:

• March 15, in Haiti. : Haitian civil society (over the preceding
weeks, organized by the United Nation’s Office of the UN Special Envoy
to Haiti, MINUSTAH, NGO’s, and local community groups), the private
sector (organized by the Inter-American Development Bank)

• March 15-17 in Santo Domingo, a closed Preparatory Technical Meeting:
with non-governmental organizations (co-hosted by the Government of the
Dominican Republic and Haiti)
• March 21-23, in Washington, D.C : with the Haitian Diaspora
(organized by the Organization of American States),
• March 23, in Martinique : With Haitian state and local government
(organized by the Government of France)
• March 23, in New York With stakeholders to MINUSTAH (organized by the
Government of Brazil and the Government of Haiti),
• March 25, in New York, organized by the Office of the UN Special
Envoy to Haiti, InterAction, and the European Commission). Follow up to
Santo Domingo meeting

Baptist Missionaries Non orphaned children returned to parents

Haiti parents take back kids given to missionaries

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Mar 17 (AP) -- Joyful parents on Wednesday recovered the children that they gave to American missionaries about six weeks ago.

The 33 children had been living at the SOS Orphanage on Port-au-Prince's outskirts since police stopped a group of 10 U.S. Baptist missionaries from taking them across the Dominican border Jan. 29 following Haiti's devastating earthquake.

Orphanage officials said all but one of the children were given back to 22 families. A remaining child, whose age and gender were not given, is awaiting further verification of her parents' identities.

The lengthly verification process, led by Haitian social services authorities, is why the reunifications took so long, orphanage spokeswoman Line Wolf Nielsen said. The Associated Press determined informally that all 33 had at least one living parent in February.

The children had been underfed and some were incontinent from stress, the orphanage said. On Wednesday they were dressed in their Sunday best to return home with parents who had given them away to foreigners a month and a half before.

Many will go back to living under bed sheets or in tin shacks because their parents homes were destroyed by the quake. Some children and orphanage workers cried as they left. The parents, who have had some contact with the children in recent weeks, wore broad smiles.

Each family was given about $260 along with food and blankets. The orphanage has also been providing counseling to the children, who they fear will feel rejected, and to parents about the dangers of child trafficking, Nielsen said.

Regilus Chesnel said he had to negotiate with Haitian, U.N. and orphanage officials before he was allowed to reunite with his children - ages 12, 7, 3, and 1 - and a 10-year-old nephew.

"I am thrilled. I feel like God has come back to me," the 39-year-old stone mason said.

Chesnel said previously he had given his children to Haitian pastor Jean Sainvil, who was working with the U.S. missionaries, because Sainvil told him that dead bodies buried under rubble in his El Citron neighborhood would breed disease.

Nine of the 10 Baptist missionaries involved in the case have been released from jail and left Haiti. Group leader Laura Silsby remains in custody at the police station that is being used as Haiti's temporary government headquarters.

Judge Bernard Saint-Vil said all could still be called to trial, and last week levied a new charge against Silsby based on allegations she had tried to take a different group of children to the border days earlier.

He heard new testimony Wednesday from the police commissioner who arrested the group at the border crossing.

The orphanage has received more than 400 unaccompanied and orphaned children since the earthquake, of which 65 have been reunited with their families, Nielsen said. The rest are being registered in a national database.

Florence Avrilier, 32, recovered an 8-year-old boy she had given away. She said she kept her 12-year-old daughter because the missionaries told her they only wanted children younger than 10.

"I'm very happy. I had no hope I would ever get my son back again. This has been a very heartbreaking time for me," she said, putting her arm around the boy.

Drs and Nurses needed

We desperately need two anesthesiologists or CRNAs, and two scrub techs or OR nurses with orthopaedic experience, to join an Orthopaedic Team going to Sacred Heart Hospital in Milot, Haiti the week of Saturday, March 27 - Saturday, April 3 (arriving in Fort Lauderdale on Friday, March 26). If you are interested or know anyone who may be interested, please have them contact me as soon as possible. I urgently need to fill these spaces and can promise it is an extremely rewarding experience.

(I apologize if you are getting this email and have no interest in volunteering in Haiti. In the nine weeks since the earthquake, my email address book is not as organized as I would like.)


Carol Fipp

Sacred Heart Hospital (Hopital Sacre Coeur) in Milot, Haiti

(904) 223-7233

Crudem Foundation, Inc.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

wyclef at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert


Remarks by President Obama and President Preval of the Republic of Haiti | The White House

Remarks by President Obama and President Preval of the Republic of Haiti | The White House

Perspective[" as if 8 million Americans had lost their lives and another one million were homeless"

Oxfam America Blog » Blog Archive » As new leaders emerge from the camps in Haiti, will their voices be heard? Part I

Oxfam America Blog » Blog Archive » As new leaders emerge from the camps in Haiti, will their voices be heard? Part I

Haiti Reconstruction Plan

Haiti reveals ambitious reconstruction plan

By Andrew Gully

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Mar 16 (AFP) — Haiti unveiled the first draft of a grand reconstruction plan, saying 11.5 billion dollars would be needed to help the country rebuild after January's devastating earthquake.

Prepared by the government with the help of the international community, the Preliminary Damage and Needs Assessment (PDNA) will provide the framework for discussions at a major donors conference in New York on March 31.

The plan, published online, goes far beyond the immediate priorities of post-quake reconstruction and looks at the massive economic and governance challenges Haiti faces if it wants to become a fully functional state.

"This is a process. This is not a final document. This represents a vision which is going to be constantly developed to arrive at a final version," Tourism Minister Patrick Delatour told AFP.

It comes more than two months after the January 12 quake, which flattened large parts of Port-au-Prince and surrounding towns and villages, claiming more than 220,000 lives from more than two dozen nations.

A version of the PDNA, given Tuesday to 28 delegations from countries and organizations gathered in the Dominican Republic capital Santo Domingo for a preparatory summit ahead of New York, gave a new toll of 222,570.

"The earthquake has created an unprecedented situation, amplified by the fact that it struck the country's most populous region and its economic and administrative center," the assessment said.

Compiled with the help of 250 Haitian and international experts, the study put the total damage from the 7.0-magnitude quake at a massive 7.9 billion dollars, or a massive 120 percent of Haiti's gross domestic product.

More than 70 percent of those losses were sustained by the private sector and 4.4 billion dollars worth of damage was to schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, buildings, ports and airports.

"The total amount of money needed stands at 11.5 billion dollars and breaks down like this: 50 percent for the social sector, 17 percent for infrastructure including housing, and 15 percent for the environment and disaster risk management," the document said.

Delatour stressed that 11.5 billion dollars -- a sum reached by World Bank and UN experts -- was only a ballpark figure and that estimates for the total reconstruction cost ranged anywhere between eight and 14 billion dollars.

In addition to trying to answer Haiti's immediate short-term concerns, the plan also listed idealistic longer-term goals such as "reconstructing the state and the economy in the service of all Haitians," and reforming the judiciary.

One focus, already mentioned by President Rene Preval and heavily promoted in the draft, was regenerating the rest of Haiti to end years of congestion and abject poverty in the capital.

"Following the quake, more than 500,000 people were displaced to secondary towns. This new distribution of the population is an opportunity to develop other poles of growth," the plan said.

The government vowed in the draft to develop infrastructure and drive new economic opportunities outside the capital while accelerating the process of decentralization.

The plan identified the main short-term priority as preparing those without shelter for heavier rains, which begin in earnest next month, and the hurricane season starting June 1.

Some 1.3 million Haitians were left homeless by the quake and 218,000 survivors are living in makeshift camps in Port-au-Prince at grave risk from flooding and landslides, according to the latest UN figures.

The government also stressed the need to enforce stricter building codes -- poor housing is thought to have been the biggest factor in the staggering death toll from the quake.

Other priorities listed were reinforcing disaster alert and evacuation systems and improving an appalling environmental record that has seen the nation lose more than 98 percent of its woodland.

Addressing delegates in Santo Domingo, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive defended the government against criticism it had been slow to get on with the giant task of reconstruction.

Also Tuesday, eight Haitian human rights groups denounced alleged corruption in the distribution of humanitarian aid and said the conditions in some of the camps was a flagrant violation of survivors' social and economic rights.

Donors Conference in Santo Domingo

AHP News - March 16, 2010 - English translation + Selected Headlines (Unofficial)
At the Santo-Domingo technical preparatory conference, Prime Minister Bellerive proposes a multilateral fiduciary fund to administer Haiti's reconstruction projects

Santo-Domingo, March 16, 2010 – (AHP) - Haitian Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive, speaking Tuesday at the opening of the international donors technical preparatory conference in Santo Domingo, proposed the creation of a multilateral fiduciary fund to administer funds for the rebuilding of Haiti after the devastating January 12th earthquake that caused more than 200,000 deaths.

The conference being held through Wednesday at the Santo Domingo hotel drew officials and technical experts from 28 countries as well as international organizations. Their conclusions will be presented at the international donors conference to be held at the UN on March 31st in New York. The conference is designed to assess the damage caused by the earthquake, valued at up to slightly more than $14 billion. Reliable sources in Washington are confident that the total needed for reconstruction over the next 10 years is closer to $17 billion.

However in the immediate term, the prime minister said that Haiti still needs the support of the international community to meet a variety of needs including potable water, food and shelter.

He also pointed out that in 30 seconds the earthquake destroyed 45% of the countries Gross Domestic Product. Some 400 schools, comprising 90% of schools in the West department, were destroyed, he said. No sector was spared, he explained. Now we should talk in terms of the country's future development, which will require sufficient money, and credible organization and structure. In that regard, the prime minister noted that in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia, special funds were created that are similar to what he is proposing for Haiti.

" We propose, with the assistance of the international community, the establishment of a similar structure", he said. He has in mind a multinational fund based on a plan developed by Haiti that would be administered over the next 18 months by the Haitian government and the international community. After that time, the fund would be managed by a development agency for the rebuilding of Haiti.

Jean Max Bellerive stressed the need to rapidly rebuild the capacity of the Haitian state to finance its own projects and to do so in the most transparent way possible.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Here is a schematic of ideas for building public sanitation from shipping containers

Mental Health in Haiti

(Miami Herald, March 15, 2010)
For anguished Haitians, earthquake takes a mental toll
The Jan. 12 earthquake struck a psychological blow to Haitians, some of whom have begun treatment.


PORT-AU-PRINCE -- On a recent Friday morning, Marie Kettie Geolnarol-Archer, between appointments in the Champ de Mars neighborhood, stopped people in the street and on the sidewalk, gently squeezing shoulders and patting backs until they looked her in the eye.

``You are not crazy,'' she told them. ``Everything will be OK.''

Geolnarol-Archer is a psychologist, and while her sidewalk ``treatments'' may have been casual and unorthodox, the most unusual thing about them was the responses.

Most people, after pregnant pauses and awkward foot-shuffling, began to share with her complaints about everything from headaches to depression.

Before the Jan. 12 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people, Geolnarol-Archer wouldn't have offered random psychological counsel because she would have been rebuffed, she says, due to Haiti's cultural practice of frowning on mental health problems and people who acknowledge them in themselves or others.

But the quake has done something that 200-plus years of turmoil had not accomplished.

``It has changed the way people think about mental healthcare,'' Geolnarol-Archer said. ``Or should I say it is changing the way they think. . . . Something happened with this particular disaster that snapped in some people's minds. Until now it has always been considered a shame -- this is a matter of Haitian culture, cultural beliefs -- to speak aloud about your mental health.''

Shamed families might have abandoned mentally ill relatives before the quake, or may have dumped them in asylums, Geolnarol-Archer said.

No more.

Adults are not the only ones targeted to receive help. First lady Elisabeth Preval is pushing for mental health services to be part of a reenvisioned education system. A just-completed assessment report on the quake's damage estimates that Haiti will need $11.5 billion to rebuild, including its education system and hospitals.

Geolnarol-Archer says her biggest concern is that the more than 1.3 million residents of Port-au-Prince under the age 30 will self-medicate their emotional stresses by binge drinking.

``Alcoholism is a serious problem with our young people,'' she said, adding that as many as 200,000 Port-au-Prince residents could be in need of immediate mental healthcare. ``I do worry that they may turn to it when the reality of our situation fully sets in.''

Rene Sadre, 21, agrees that Geolnarol-Archer's fear is legitimate.

He says that if he hadn't met Geolnarol-Archer, he probably would have tried to drink away his quake-related sorrows.

``It changed me,'' he says from his bed in a hallway at General Hospital.

Sadre's family hogtied him and dropped him off at the hospital after he became incoherent and violent. And while they alluded to his emotional problems, their pretense for checking him in was a possible stomach injury, said Dr. Peter Hughes, a Cambridge, England-based psychiatrist for International Medical Corps, who has teamed up with Geolnarol-Archer to treat her new influx of patients.

``That's the way it started with many people,'' Hughes says, while examining Sadre. ``A lightbulb has gone off and people recognize that they don't feel right -- mentally, emotionally. But they still don't know how to address it. So they began coming to the hospital in droves and asking, `Can you take a look at this injury on my leg?' And then they casually slip in `By the way, I'm also experiencing panic attacks and heart palpitations'.''

Panic attacks and heart palpitations are the symptoms most frequently presented by Haitians seeking treatment these days, Hughes says, adding that both are understandable considering the frequency of tremors and aftershocks.

``The slightest rumbles that in the past they would have paid no attention to -- a large truck passing by, a plane overhead -- can now send people into a near frenzy,'' he said.

The Pan American Health Organization has been trying to help mental health experts in Haiti establish a care network in the aftermath of the quake, said Dan Epstein, an organization spokesman.

``We're encouraged by the outreach care providers have been able to engage in with the people who need it most,'' Epstein said. ``Our concern over the past six weeks or so has been to establish before the spirit of camaraderie and neighborhood teamwork wears thin, as people think more about the long road ahead. That's when serious mental health problems can surface.''

Joseph Frantzdy, 25, says his family was so comforted to know they weren't alone in their emotional stress, that it made them comfortable to commit his 41-year-old mother to General Hospital a day after the quake, when she became catatonic and mute -- a condition in which she remains.

In the past, Frantzdy said, they may have hidden his mother out of shame, but not anymore, because ``it is not the right attitude. She is my mother. Even if you cannot see her injuries, she is not well.''

Claude Dougé, 49, is less subtle about his feelings on changing attitudes toward mental healthcare.

Since the quake, he and five family members have been camping in the rubble of his partially collapsed home.

``I believe I feel relief, perhaps joy. This is something we have needed for so long, considering what this country has been through over a great many years,'' said Dougé, a teacher and former United Nations social worker.

Over the past four years, Dougé has lost a brother to suicide, his father to cancer, his wife to divorce, and now his home to the quake.

What's kept him stable, he said, is his long habit of seeing a psychologist for periodic counseling.

``I have been telling people . . . that it is no shame to talk about your mental state if you have problems,'' he said. ``This earthquake has been terrible. But if it is opening people up that is good.''

More evidence that attitudes toward mental healthcare are ``opening up'' is the number of people who've flocked to the Mars Kline Psychiatric Centre.

``Look around you,'' Hughes says, upon entering Haiti's largest psychiatric hospital.

``Before the earthquake, the only people you'd see here were patients who were considered violent, dangerously violent. No one came here voluntarily, just for help.''

The front lawn at Mars Kline is now covered by tents and blue tarps.

According to Geolnarol-Archer, ``these people could have taken their families anywhere, but they came here for access to the hospital's staff. They know that this is not a place to get their bodies treated, but rather their minds.''

Jean Philipe, a former Haitian soldier, went to Mars Kline for counseling after the earthquake.

Philipe was later deemed a danger to himself or others and committed to Mars Kline, a move that angers him, since he insists ``I am sane,'' but also a move he admits could stabilize him in the long run.

``I don't care who sees me here,'' Philipe said. ``I am here. Hopefully these people can fix my mind.''