Search Results for: Haiti

Congress Passes Bill to Assess U.S. Funding in Haiti

Ian Schwab, AJWS's associate director of advocacy (far left), speaks at a Haiti Advocacy Working Group event.

Ian Schwab, AJWS’s associate director of advocacy (far left), speaks at a Haiti Advocacy Working Group event.

More than four years after a devastating earthquake hit Haiti, the country is still struggling with deep-rooted inequality, rampant poverty and a troubled government. Congress recently passed a new bill to reform how the U.S. tracks the progress of its development projects in Haiti—with the hope of making those projects more effective.

“Our government laudably committed a significant amount of aid to help Haiti rebuild, but a lack of transparency made it difficult to understand how U.S. government funds were being used,” said Ruth Messinger, president of American Jewish World Service. “The bill will help establish clear and transparent goals for future U.S. involvement in Haiti and will ensure that U.S. dollars are spent in responsible ways that create long-term, positive change.”

Read More »

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment

How Beverly Bell’s Book “Fault Lines” Offers a Portrait of Haiti Through the Lens of Haitian People

Fault LinesThe fourth anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti has come and gone. There were the usual speeches, press conferences, updates and flurries of attention. There was also, at least in some quarters, an expressed concern that it is “taking too long” to make a difference on the ground, that the problems of weak government, corruption, misdirected aid, and missing land titles are inhibiting efforts to put the country back together.

Yes, it is all taking a long time. We at AJWS are not surprised because we know the people who know Haiti well, and they predicted that the recovery process would not go smoothly. They warned those of us who were ready to listen. Haitian people understand the incredibly complex 210-year story of their country better than Americans because they live the complexity—day in and day out. They also know that too often, and in too many ways, the U.S. government has been complicit in creating problems for Haiti and in Haiti and that, in some ways, this is still the case.

All of this is to say that to understand Haiti, I believe everyone should read one of the few books that really tells the story authentically: Beverly Bell’s Fault Lines. Read More »

Posted in Human Rights | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Dominicans of Haitian descent deserve full equality in the Dominican Republic

DR protest

Protesters organize outside the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court.

Daniela lives in a batey—a town of sugar cane workers—in the Dominican Republic. At 17 years old, she has just graduated from high school and now volunteers as a community health educator. Her dream is to go to college—but that dream was crushed last month, when the country’s Constitutional Court revoked citizenship from all Dominicans of Haitian descent born after 1929.

Daniela was born in the Dominican Republic, but the government no longer considers her a citizen—just because of her family’s Haitian heritage. The impact on Daniela and her family will be devastating. Her college dream is now shattered, and she might be deported from the only home she’s ever known. Read More »

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Facing a Food Crisis: The Ingenuity of Haitian Farmers

Originally posted on The Jew and the Carrot.

With Passover around the corner, many of us are poised to recite the words, “Let all who are hungry come and eat.” But when nearly 1 billion people around the world are hungry or malnourished, these words become acutely daunting—particularly for communities recovering from disasters.

More than three years after a major earthquake ravaged Haiti, the country is still struggling to recover. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of problems: homelessness, violence, political corruption and, perhaps most severe, a shortage of food—resulting in hunger. In November 2012, these crises were further exacerbated by Hurricane Sandy, which ripped through Haiti before wreaking havoc in New York and New Jersey. Read More »

Posted in Food Justice, Human Rights, Jewish Justice | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Women’s Day 2012: Port-au-Prince, Haiti

On Women's Day, Haitian women march behind a banner that says "Social Justice."

As Women’s History Month draws to a close, AJWS’s country consultant for Haiti, Amber Lynn Munger-Pierre, reflects on Women’s Day in Haiti.

If there were an observable theme that I could surmise from the Women’s Day activities in Haiti on March 8th, I would say that it was unity. The Women’s Day march brought together many diverse groups from Haitian Civil Society—women and men, adults and youth. There were so many groups present that it is hard to name them all. Some of AJWS’s partner organizations that were present include: AJWS’s partners FAVILEK (Fanm Viktim Level Kanpe/Women Victims Get Up Stand Up), GARR (Groupe d’Appui aux Rapatries et aux Refugies/Assitance for Repatriates and Refugees); PAPDA (Plateforme Haïtienne de Plaidoyer pour un Développement Alternatif/Haitian Platform for Advocacy and Alternative Development); and FRAKKA (Fos Refleksyon ak Aksyon sou Koze Kay/Force for Reflection and Action for Appropriate Housing). Read More »

Posted in Human Rights | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Haitian Women and Rabbi Tarfon

It is not upon you to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” I have used this saying by Rabbi Tarfon from Pirke Avot many times, but until last week, I hadn’t truly comprehended the meaning behind these words. Over the course of three days, I had the honor of meeting a delegation of Haitian Civil Society leaders who came to Washington to meet with officials in connection to the two-year anniversary of the earthquake.  They came as part of the Haiti Advocacy Working Group, a collection of U.S. organizations devoted to a fair and more effective reconstruction process in Haiti, that AJWS hosts.  Two of them, Marguerite Salomon, Director of GCFV (Group Concertation des Femmes Victims), and Emmania Durchard, Director of AJWS’s grantee KOFAVIV (Commission of Women Victims for Victims), have been fighting to protect women from sexual and domestic violence in Haiti for decades. When the earthquake hit, the situation became exponentially worse. Instead of giving up, these women continued forward. As Emmania described “…after the earthquake, the rate of sexual violence was so high, that we needed to support all of them. We have more work to do, not only to provide support, but to advocate and educate.”*

Read More »

Posted in Human Rights, Jewish Justice | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Haiti Two Years Later: Why Won’t the International Community Listen?

It has been two years today since the devastating earthquake in Haiti claimed the lives of approximately 300,000 people. This anniversary should inspire us to take a moment of reflection to remember those whose lives were lost and, even more importantly, to renew our commitment to supporting the Haitian people’s goal for a new Haiti. But there has been an unfortunate disconnect between the international community’s response to this disaster and what Haitian civil society leaders on the ground want for their country.

We Believe in HaitiAs I think back to the many conversations that I had with AJWS’s partners in Haiti right after the earthquake, they weren’t just talking about putting back together the pieces that were broken, as many who came to Haiti to help have tried to do. They wanted to use this disaster as the impetus to construct a new Haiti—a Haiti where those who were rendered voiceless for so long would finally be listened to and included in the determination of their country’s future.

These grassroots leaders have acted on these ideas, working hard since the earthquake to shape their country from the ground up. They’re working for greater inclusion of small-scale farmers in the government’s agricultural agenda, pushing for housing rights for the more than 500,000 people that remain in camps, fighting for more just laws that protect against sexual and gender-based violence and so much more.

But despite their progress, these local voices haven’t been consulted sufficiently over these past two years, as international organizations have descended on Haiti to implement their own agendas. In a recent article published by the Nation of Change it is estimated that only 1 percent of international aid went to the Haitian government and extremely little went to Haitian companies or non-governmental organizations. Instead, the funds have gone to support international organizations, plans presented by international governments and foreign private companies—all implementing their own agendas for how Haiti should develop.

In many cases, these projects have failed to succeed because they didn’t take into account the local context. For example, this past summer the “Building Back Better Communities” housing expo, held in Port-au-Prince, featured 59 housing units presented as possible alternatives for the more than 1 million people Read More »

Posted in Human Rights | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Remembering Sonia and Our Obligations to Haiti

By all rights she should have been a nobody. But instead, Sonia Pierre, the Dominican born daughter of Haitian migrants was, at the time of her premature death this week at the age 48, an internationally respected, award winning advocate for the civil and social rights of Haitian Dominicans and a leading grassroots responder to the continuing needs of Haitians in the aftermath of the devastating January 2010 earthquake. She was both practical and a bit of a dreamer. As we approach the second anniversary of that earthquake, when it seems that much of the world has forgotten the promises it made in response to that natural disaster, we can all learn something from Sonia, and in doing so, honor her memory and our commitments to Haiti.

Read More »

Posted in Human Rights | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Haiti Doesn’t Need Your Old T-Shirt… Or Our Surplus Rice

AJWS has been saying for a while that shipping surplus U.S. food thousands of miles to developing countries is about as useless in ending global hunger as, well, sending them our old T-shirts.

According to this article in Foreign Policy Magazine, here’s a great acronym for the leftovers people send to the poor under the guise of helping: SWEDOW (“stuff we don’t want”).

Charles Kenny makes it clear and compelling why casting our SWEDOW on the Global South isn’t going to foster sustainable change—it just clears out our closets and the coffers of U.S. farming surplus to make room for the next useless T-shirt or bumper crop. Read More »

Posted in Food Justice | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Letter from Haiti

AJWS Development Associate, Stefanie Rubin, recently traveled to Haiti in preparation for the November 2011 AJWS Study Tour to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Below she shares her reflections and insights about all that she has experienced in just three days.

My mind is still reeling from everything we’ve seen during the past few days in Haiti. Clips of what we’ve experienced and the grantees we’ve visited keep bubbling to the forefront of my consciousness and lap over me in waves of emotion. Today began with another long car ride, weaving through a mess of buildings toppled over like a child’s set of blocks, against a backdrop of green, spectacularly beautiful mountainsides sloping toward an idyllic Caribbean coast. Woven into the landscape are banners of blue, white and grey calling out to us in familiar code: USAID, UNICEF, PR of CHINA, Rotary International.  Our van slowed to a crawl as we navigated our way through yet another bustling market swarmed with shoppers haggling over everything from bushels of plantains (a staple in Haitian cuisine) to scented lotions and candles, to brightly painted jewelry and hand stamped metal sculptures. Life, even in the face of extreme adversity, goes on.

As we made our way into the heart of downtown Port au Prince, we caught our first glimpse of the National Palace, which sustained heavy damages after the quake. I had seen the “before and after” photos on the news last year, but seeing it first hand was deeply moving. The visual was not a complete surprise. But what we discovered immediately across the street—“The Champ de Mars Plaza”—will stay with me long after I return home.

Read More »

Posted in Human Rights, Letters from the Field, LGBTI Rights | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment