Every December, we look back not only to assess the past 12 months, but also to find reasons for hope heading into the new year. It's not always an easy task, especially when focusing on Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)'s work on the front lines of humanitarian crises around the globe.
The Citizenship Engagement Program in Haiti, developed in the context of post-earthquake reconstruction, provides Haitian citizens with the toolkit and pedagogical tools "JE m'engage, ensemble NOUS bâtissons" (I commit, together WE build) to facilitate co-operation within communities, with the common goal of economic, social and cultural development based on human rights.
Haiti is a structurally vulnerable country where a crisis is never far away, often sweeping in with rain, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and cholera to wreak havoc on the nation's priorities. When I arrived in Haiti in 2007, the 2004 disaster in Gonaives was still fresh in everyone's minds. A year later, the same city was once again flooded. When I came back in 2012, the earthquake had left thousands of people in Port au Prince homeless and cholera was rapidly spreading.
We've all heard the real estate mantra: "Location, location, location." It means that two identical homes can have completely different value, depending on where they're situated. Location is everything. Millions of the world's poorest children know this all too well -- especially when natural disaster strikes.
When you add in the damage to roads, schools and clinics, combined with the risk of waterborne diseases like cholera that are increasing due to flooding, the people of Haiti are in desperate need. But they are also resilient. These photos tell a story of great tragedy, community cooperation, and the strength of Haiti's people to get up and begin rebuilding.
Hurricane Matthew has put the lives of millions of children in Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic in danger. In Haiti, it is estimated that half a million children live in the most affected areas, particularly in Grand-Anse and the South. But words alone cannot demonstrate the destruction.
With every hour that passes more information about destruction and death is coming in. Every report is directly linked to the life and future of children in Haiti. Over the course of yesterday, following the eventually intensifying stream of updates from partners on the ground I felt darkness creeping up on me -- until I remembered that we are moving forward towards relief for children on the ground.
We rolled on through Port-au-Prince, encountering pockets of garbage and smoke and poverty so extreme it seemed to punch you right in the face. Our SUV's tinted windows were rolled up tight, since my children might "look like money" to those in the encampments, our driver advised. At that moment, tweets about the Met Gala were rolling in.
The immediate response to the unjust treatment of Haitian-Dominicans by the government of the Dominican Republic should be a collective one. The opposition to the slated deportation or expulsion of over 200,000 Haitian-Dominicans is a cause that needs to be taken up not only by Caribbean leaders, but also by the people living in the region and its diaspora.hile circulating awareness of the treatment of Haitian-Dominicans via social media outlets has served its purpose, let's also include proactive measures such as lobbying governments and pressuring foreign companies to stop investing in the Dominican Republic.
The Haitian and Dominican republics share a porous border and a long, complicated and bloody history. The island's fissure divides it along colonial, linguistic, socioeconomic and cultural lines. In the era of globalization and international collaboration it's time to reexamine the Haitian-Dominican relationship.
Five years after the devastating earthquake that rocked the lives and homes of thousands of Haitian men, women and children, the shadow of that tragic day remains. Thanks to the overwhelmingly generosity of Canadian individuals and support from organizations and government, progress in Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas has been made.
Haiti remains the dent in imperialism's white-supremacist shining armour. It remains the African nation which successfully expelled imperialist predatory forces to become the first African republic (post-colonization). It remains the African nation which took the empty rhetoric of equality-liberty-fraternity and gave it substance and meaning.
The February 2004 coup against the democratically elected Haitian president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, serves as a potent example of how Canada's aid program and foreign policy can undermine democratic development. Some will undoubtedly find the preceding statement surprising, if not disturbing, but the documentary record of Canada's relationship with Haiti supports it.
I dare to dream of a Diaspora that is able to actively, consistently and credibly hold individuals like Coderre accountable for their actions; a Diaspora that is in a position of preventing the many Coderre's of this world from adding insult to injury by portraying themselves as true friends of Haiti. Because with friends like these...