There are very few feelings in life that are more painful than hunger, yet a huge percentage of the Haitian population is constantly going to bed hungry. Among them, hundred of thousands of children are malnourished, not to mention those who are truly deprived access to food. Haiti has been labeled the poorest nation in the Hemisphere, and our leaders seem to be relishing this tag.
The Haitian government and the private sector do not seem to care about taking the steps necessary to alleviate the hunger of the mass. What we have in Haiti is not a case of famine, but instead a lack of equitable access to nutrition.
Very few families are able to provide two meals a day to their children, let alone three. The sad part of this all is that there are people in Haiti, who have more food than they can possibly eat. For those people, Haiti’s hunger problem is not one of their concerns.
How do we expect the civil society to be actively involved in the betterment of the country when they can barely feed their family? Often I find myself asking what is Haiti’s biggest problem, food insecurity or illiteracy. The answer to this delicate dilemma depends on who you ask. I happen to believe that illiteracy is the biggest problem facing our nation, but that is not to say we should ignore finding solutions to feed all Haitians in need.
There are many international organizations that are making a fortune in the name of feeding the Haitian children. Some of them are genuinely helping reducing the high rate of malnutrition in the midst of our society, but again what is truly needed in Haiti is not a few programs targeting those most in need, but instead we need a systematic change in the way we produce our basic commodities for survival.
A country like Haiti with a rich soil should be able to produce enough food for its 8 million citizens. I don’t believe this is too much to ask of our society. The way we go about implementing those changes is the key to prevent a famine in the country in the near future.
The conditions of today’s Haiti are very bleak. The word hope is as extinct as the dinosaurs. The population is in need of a complete change, but they have no idea as to how to make it happen. I am amazed of the courage of our people. They have become immune to misery. Their tolerance for pains has been greatly improved over the years. If those were not the case, they would have already rose up and demanded that those in power listen to the wave of air in their stomach.
In Haiti many parents deal with a choice of feeding themselves or their children, sometime it’s about whom among the many children need the food the most. According to a World agency one child is dying every six minutes due to hunger. The relationship between hunger and poverty is like that of fingers and hand. We can not alleviate the rate of hunger in Haiti without addressing the issue of poverty.
It is about time that the state has a redistribution of wealth. I am not talking about socializing the country, but the playing field must be widened and opportunities must be accessible to all.
It is a great sin to have ninety percent of a country’s wealth in the hands of only five percent of the population. A far greater crime is that most of the wealth of the nation is not even invested in the country. So how do we go about reaching that equilibration? As I have mentioned in my previous columns, it will take a mass mobilization and a strong educational campaign of the whole society to make those changes happen.
The kreyol proverb of “sak vid pa kanpe” is very fitting for the current state of the nation. In a country, where so many people have empty stomachs constantly, it is not a great coincidence that over the years the crime rate has risen, epidemics are king, and hopelessness has found a cozy home in the midst of our society. As President Aristide once phrased it, we must give the people peace in their stomach if we want them to have a peaceful mind.
The devastation during this past hurricane season did not help the country’s agricultural sectors. Right after the hurricanes, Haitians from all over the globe mobilized in order to help those most affected. Today, just a bare few months since, it seems as if most of us outside of Haiti have already forgotten what had happen.
Helping Haiti, whether by providing food, financial or any other type of assistance should not only be restricted during times of natural disaster. Haiti is a world disaster, so we the children of the country have a duty to constantly help the country.
If our stomach could speak, it would scream from Morne l’hopital all the way Morne Kabrit, it would say hunger is not sweet, please give me a treat. Haiti, once an agricultural country should be able to produce enough food for the entire population. It is time that the non-governmental agencies in Haiti invest in the cultivation of the land. We do not need their over inflated imports, for our country is capable of growing its own crop. Listen to the scream of our stomach.