Recent natural and man made disasters in Haiti have dominated the news about the beleaguered country. They have exposed the grinding poverty and despair that permeates across the mountainous nation. Recently, we learned that that children all over the country are suffering from severe malnutrition. These children should not be subjected to such degradation. They are our hope for the future.
It shouldn’t have to be this way. Haitians in Miami, New York and elsewhere in the Diaspora have collected clothes and food, sending them back there as rapidly as they could with the help of American officials. Those who could travel to the country came to lend their support. lAmerican and Italian artists, led by John Edwards, former U.S. senator and presidential candidate went to Haiti to inaugurate a rehab center for sick children.
This Rehabilitation Center called “Kay Sent Jèmèn”–”Maison des Petits Anges” [Little Angels House} is established by the humanitarian organization NPES (Nos Petits Frèrs et Soeurs} [Our little Brothers and Sisters]. It will provide aid to some to 5,000 children and feed regularly about 400 others. According to Edwards, “It is clearly a combination of efforts and works by many people. I am only here to call attention on the situation of the Haitian people in its search for a better life.” Open on the commemoration of World Day of the Handicapped, the center “will give the children one daily hot meal, physiotherapy care and school activities in order to improve their conditions and develop their talents.”
These people are now sending an SOS, because they say, “the authorities want us to live by December 15, without telling us where to go. They only offer us mattresses, some roughing sheet metals, some pounds of nails and 1,000 gourdes.” These stricken people have lost their homes and all their belongings. They survive mainly thanks to the help of some international organizations.
However, as much as private initiatives can help. they should be part of a well planned, coordinated and controlled program to rehabilitate the Artibonite Valley – the country’s bread basket – and Gonaives, the city of the independence.
Since the first Gonaives flood in 2004, the Haitian government should have considered a master plan for the reconstruction of a larger and modern city.
It could have taken advantage of the Brazilian Senate’s decision since July 2008, to approve the sending to Haiti of 100 military engineers, integrated in the UN Mission of Stabilization (MINUSTAH) to help in infrastructure works in the country. As we have once suggested, a well plan and built Gonaives could become the “Brazilia” of Haiti and a world tourist attraction. Sadly, this is yet another missed opportunity.
All it takes is a vision and a will .