Tuesday, May 26, 2009

News Items

In response to the recent appointment of Clinton as UN Special Envoy to Haiti, Fidel Castro wrote a less-than-optimistic commentary on the situation in Haiti. I found it to be well-worth reading. One of his more important observations:

"Haitians are not to blame for their current status of poverty; they were rather the victims of a system that was imposed on the whole world. They did not invent colonialism, capitalism, imperialism, unequal exchange, neo-liberalism or any of the forms of exploitation and plundering that have prevailed in this planet during the last 200 years."

He also brought up the issue of whether the land itself can ever sustain the nearly 9 million people living on it. I have wondered something along these lines: has the land been ruined beyond repair?

Along these same lines is a short article in Time.com about Clinton's "second chance" with Haiti.

The second news item: unfortunately more flooding in Haiti. So far 11 people are confirmed dead, but it always seems to me that these 'official reports' greatly underestimate the true loss of life. Last year when the 4 hurricanes swept through Haiti "about 800" people were reported to have died. But the number likely represents only those bodies that were found. If a body was not found it was not counted.

Here's the article from Reuters:
By Joseph Guyler Delva

PORT-AU-PRINCE, May 21 (Reuters) - Floods triggered by torrential rains have killed at least 11 people in Haiti, as the poor Caribbean nation struggles to recover from last year's disasters, civil protection officials said on Thursday.

Several hundred homes have been damaged or destroyed and more than 600 families have been left homeless from flooding during the past three days, according to official reports.

"The 11 victims we counted is the death toll we have registered since last night," Pierre-Louis Pinchinat, assistant director of the civil protection office, said. "But we fear the death toll may be a little higher since the rain continued to fall until today in several parts of the country."

Most of the victims were killed while crossing rivers or when their flimsy homes collapsed, officials said. Five died in the northern Artibonite area, three in the Central Plateau, two in the South and one in the Grande-Anse area.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, is vulnerable to floods due to massive deforestation, poor drainage in cities and because many shanty towns were built near river beds.

About 800 people were killed last year by a succession of storms and hurricanes. The scars of those storms are still visible in the hardest-hit city, Gonaives.

Many Haitians fear they could face new destruction during the hurricane season that begins on June 1. Haitian government agencies have stepped up efforts to set up shelters. (Editing by Jim Loney and Paul Simao)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Round Trip Missions--interesting video

I found this on the Christianty Today website:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Heart surgeries

Hi all,

A couple of things to pray about:

There is a 15 year old girl in Haiti who has a severe heart condition.  Her name is Vanessa.  She is being evaluated as a candidate for possible heart surgery.  Please pray that she might be able to undergo heart surgery--that is, pray that her problem is fixable through surgery and that her condition is stable enough to allow her to travel, should that become possible.

Also, there is another young girl  named Marie Sherley who is also undergoing evaluation.  Please pray for her situation as well.  


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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Haiti and President Clinton

Here's a video I just came upon. It's a short 2- minute interview with President Clinton from April:

Click here for video

Monday, May 18, 2009

News item

Former President Bill Clinton named special U.N. envoy to Haiti

I recognize that not all on this email list are big fans of Bill Clinton  :)    However, I think that, regardless, bringing visibility to the plight of those poor living in Haiti will be a good thing.  His 'Global Initiative' has brought about significant good in certain African countries, and perhaps he will be able to pursued donors to invest smartly in Haiti.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Haiti and MCC

As most of you know I am part of the Mennonite Church. Here's a really neat news item:

Haitian government chooses MCC partner to produce documentary

Joshua Steckley and Cathryn Clinton
May 12, 2009

MCC = Mennonite Central Committee. MCC has a very strong reputation throughout the world as an organization that works with integrity and compassion.

Here's a link to the article.

MCC has produced commercials that have been aired in Haiti. The first one is pretty neat and you can see it here .

There are a total of
4 videos featured here.

Here is the actual article:

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Support Local Production (known as KPL in Creole), an organization co-founded by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), has been selected by the Haitian government's Presidential Commission on Competition to produce a documentary and a commercial that highlight Haitian agriculture.

The government-funded documentary and commercial will be used in the government's campaign to increase sales of Haitian agricultural products locally and abroad.

Since its founding in January 2008, KPL has produced 10 commercials that encourage Haitians to consume local produce. These are broadcast daily on the publicly owned Haitian National Television.

KPL coordinator Ari Nicolas says, "When we started over a year ago, we had to pay $2,500 a month for the television station to air our commercial two times a day. After the food riots last year, they started giving us free airtime. Now, the government is paying us."

In addition to governmental changes, the national broadcaster recently quit broadcasting commercials for imported rice. Haitian farmers have lost jobs because cheaper, subsidized rice from the United States has flooded the Haitian market.

In response to international encouragement to help alleviate poverty, the Haitian government began market liberalization in 1986. While lowered tariffs brought cheaper imported food to Haiti, they had a devastating effect on agricultural production, particularly in rice, sugar and poultry sectors.

Christian Aid, an international development charity, estimates that around 831,900 Haitians have been affected by the loss of agricultural income.

According to a study in 2008 by the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, a nonpartisan organization, Haiti now relies on imports for more than half of its food supply.

Nicolas does not blame all Haitian troubles on the market liberalization policies. He says that 300 years of slavery and colonialism taught Haitians they were inferior, and this belief affects them today. "We wear Western clothes, create Western music and eat imported food because we still think who we are and what we can make is no good," he says.

Through commercials, school visits and conferences, KPL reminds Haitians of the importance of valuing their humanity. "As KPL, we are simply trying to make Haitians remember who we are, and what we can produce. Once we can change this mentality, everything else will follow," Nicolas says.

The KPL commercials can be viewed online at mcc.org/haiti.

Joshua Steckley is an MCC worker from Waterloo, Ontario. Cathryn Clinton is a writer for MCC.


My Blog

International Aid organization

Here's a short video from International Aid:

Friday, May 8, 2009

Trade school

During the last trip we had opportunity to tour a new trade school which had just opened up this year in Pestel.

The trade school is being funded by a group called IDEJEN (Out-of-School Youth Livelihood Initiative). There are a number of these trade schools throughout Haiti and I'm very glad to see one has started in Pestel! The tuition/expenses are paid-for by IDEJEN.

The schools are designed for older youth (late teens to early 20s) and the school provides 2 years of education: the first focuses primarily on reading/writing and the second focuses mainly on one of two trades: masonry or animal husbandry. The trades were chosen based on the needs of the area.

Promoting trade schooling in Pestel makes a great deal of sense to me. Currently they have enrolled 50 students in the first year (25 female, 25 male), and some students have to travel a great distance to attend.

The teachers would like to provide a free meal for the students (i.e. lunch). Right now they can only give them something like crackers). They believe the students will learn better with food in their stomachs. I have to agree.

They are also interested in school supplies: all the kinds of the school supplies we're gathering. They also would like a computer, printer, and a copier. Jon and I were thinking a laptop would be the way to go. Might be able to power it through solar.

I also think they could use funds to purchase supplies. As you'll see in the photos, some of the 'trade school demonstration material' came from a tree limb on the property grounds.

The program is funded by USAID and you can read more about it here.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The village of Lasal

So far since our trip in March we've raised $2100 to help support several classrooms throughout the mountains of Pestel! Thank you for your generosity and your encouragement!

In July 2008 I visited a small village of Lasal. I was truly moved by their stories. Very few children could attend school because the nearest school was about one-and-a-half hours away (one way) and was simply too expensive ($100 per kid per year). Those that could afford to send their kids often financed it by cutting down trees (deforestation) to turn into charcoal. Obviously, this brings up several concerns.

This village wanted to start their own school, and we told them that we would try to help them. But the needs are great all over Pestel...

Fast-forward to March 2009. The village had set up two classrooms on their own! You can see photos of the classrooms. They're not fancy, but it shows how determined the people in this village are to try to provide primary education for their children. It's important to keep in mind that the parents have not had education, but they still understand the value.

We are eager to help these people and encourage them in their efforts. I think giving to this community is a triple-win: obviously a win for the kids and their teachers, a win for those who donate, and a win because it reduces the need for them to cut down their trees.

I like the village of Lasal. It's down the mountainside from Fidelis' place, and the people are SO enthusiastic you can't help but smile. They clapped after EVERY PHRASE when I spoke. I felt like a presidential candidate at a national convention.

Enjoy the photos!
You can read a bit more of Lasal at this link:

If you'd like to give to this village (or any particular village), just indicate it in the Address Field on the Donate Form.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Online giving option available now!

Hi All,

There is now an online giving option for our work in Haiti!  You can find it on the right-hand side of the blog (http://haitimedical.blogspot.com/ ) as well as on the updated "Partnering with Pestel" website .  

Feel free to send the link to others...distribute widely!  

If you want your donation to go toward a specific project (i.e. Chateau Deau's or cisterns, school room support, medications, trade school supplies etc) just indicate that in line #1 or 2 of the address line.  It'll act as a memo.

The option we are using (Google Checkout) does not have the option of recurring giving at this point.  But if there is enough interest we can move that direction.  The benefit to Google Checkout is $0 monthly fees whereas with others there is a fairly standard $25 (or so) monthly fee.  

Donations are tax deductible and are processed through my home church, Slate Hill Mennonite Church.  

A BIG thanks to Ben Myers (treasurer) and Roger Springer (finance) who were instrumental in helping get this set-up through our Church!!!   And to my church for their ongoing support and strong interest in helping with these efforts for the people of Haiti.