MABE Orphanage -- Port au Prince, Haiti

MABE Orphanage -- Port au Prince, Haiti

Friday, July 30, 2010

The International Community Should Pressure the Haitian Government For Prompt and Fair Elections

[Editor's Note: This is a very important analysis of the current political crisis in earthquake ravaged Haiti prepared by the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. Please take a few mintues to read it and let other folks know about it as well. Although the mainstream media is mostly ignoring or misinterpreting 
this issue, any vestige of democracy in Haiti is on the verge of being undermined as Haiti prepares to hold presidential and parliamentary elections this fall without allowing the nation's largest and most popular political party, Fanmi Lavalas, to participate. As concerned citizens of the world, we cannot let this happen. -- Paul B]


PO Box 52115 • Boston, MA 02205-2115 • (617) 652-0876 • info@ijdh.org • www.ijdh.org

The International Community Should Pressure the Haitian Government For Prompt and Fair Elections

June 30, 2010

I. Introduction

On June 28, 2010, Haitian President Renée Préval announced Parliamentary and Presidential elections for November 28, 2010, and issued a decree mandating that the country’s ninemember Provisional Electoral Council plan for the elections.1 These upcoming elections will provide the political foundation for effective use of earthquake response funds and the development of a stable society that will be less vulnerable to future natural disasters. The Government of Haiti (GOH) must stick to its deadline, but it must also run fair, inclusive and constitutional elections.

These elections are particularly important to:
a) re-establish an effective legislature that can make the vital national policy decisions
entrusted to it by Haiti’s constitution;
b) establish political accountability for the expenditure of large amounts of money that
will have a lasting impact on Haitian society; and
c) resolve Haiti’s current societal disputes in a peaceful and democratic manner.

The failure to hold credible elections will perpetuate the social unrest and political uncertainty that made Haiti vulnerable to the earthquake’s damage, and slow to mount an effective governmental response.2 The international community, in order to protect its investment in Haiti’s reconstruction and facilitate the emergence of a democratic, stable government in Haiti, must use the leverage that its financial contributions to reconstruction provide to ensure the holding of fair, inclusive and constitutional elections.

Haiti currently faces three principal problems relating to elections:
a) the closing of Parliament when members’ terms expired in May 2010;
b) a credibility crisis for the 1/3 of the Senate elected in flawed elections in 2009 and of
the Electoral Council that ran the elections; and
c) the threat that the Executive Branch will have no Constitutional legitimacy after
February 7, 2011.

2010 July Haiti Journal #9 Buried Treasure


2010 July Haiti Journal #9 Buried Treasure

July 31, 2010

Real wishes from the children of Cite Soleil…

If I found a buried treasure I would buy spoons for my mother’s kitchen.

If I found a buried treasure I would buy shoes so I could go to church with my parents.

If I found a buried treasure I would go to the USA to get a job.

If I found a buried treasure I would buy food for all the hungry children.

If I found a buried treasure I would buy a small piece of land, have a house and a cow.

If I found a buried treasure I would pay my tuition, then, god willing, my mother will live long enough for me to get a job so I can take care of her.

To think….some little kids just want to go to Disneyland.

peace, leisa

Leisa Faulkner, Executive Director
Children's Hope

Leisa's Haiti Journal #8: Sidewalk Baby


2010 July Haiti Journal #8 Sidewalk Baby (July 26)

Tonight, as a reward to ourselves after a long dripping-hot day, we stopped off at one of our favorite orphanages. I was really looking forward to seeing all the children at Mabo and giving them some art and craft supplies we knew they could use. They recognize us, and always shower us with kisses. When we were parking, another woman pulled up. She seemed to be a regular, too. She had a large box of used mis-matched clothes .We helped her with the box since she was cradling a newborn. What an added bonus. Kissing babies is one reliable joy here. Or so I expected.

Once inside she started telling her story. Two weeks earlier she was walking down the street when a mother put her newborn baby on the sidewalk, saying simply, “take my baby”. With that the mother took back the towel the infant was wrapped in, explaining that the towel was borrowed and had to be returned. The mother said she had other children that she couldn’t feed. Then she left the pencil thin baby lying on the sidewalk naked, and walked away.

My new friend has barely slept since, feeding the newborn every few hours, and pampering her back to health. The baby girl was only 12 days old when she became a street baby. Now at a whopping 28 days old, she is already plump and by now was dozing easily on my shoulder.

Hard as that was to hear, I was still composed up to that part of the story…then, it turns out my new friend is leaving the country soon…and doesn’t know what will become of the baby. She intends to take her over to the Dominican (her native home) on her way back to France where she lives, but where the baby doesn’t have papers to go. There is no one in the Dominican that has agreed to take the baby yet.

My composure finally slipped. I thought of all the folks back home that would be thrilled to have a chance to parent this little angel…and yet, that new life seems just out of her tiny reach.

Is it fair that this baby was left on the street? Is it fair that her mother had no social safety net? Is it fair that for a few weeks at least, she was saved when so many others are not? What will happen now? What about her right to life?

In the states tend to think we are above these social issues. But, honestly, before we get too proud of ourselves, let’s remember the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has been ratified by every country in the world but two: Somalia and the U.S.

I don’t know where this little street angel will end up, but I do know that somehow, she belongs to all of us…like all the world’s children do, and maybe we should start to wonder where our children are.

peace,
from Haiti, Leisa

To learn more about what this would mean to children all over the world, please go to: http://www.unicef.org/crc/index_30229.html

To support our work in Haiti:
http://coalitionfordemocracyinhaiti.blogspot.com/

Leisa's Haiti Journal #7: Hands Across the Water

Children at MABO, an orphanage in Port au
Prince that had to move after the earthquake.

July 26, 2010. Haiti Journal #7

Hands across the water…

Thanks so much to folks that are sending in pledges and donations…I got a call from Will Lotter today telling me DRCS just pledged another $300…just the amount that the Mabo orphanage needed for food. Sue Ann emailed me that she would donate $100 today, just what I expect to spend tomorrow printing flyers to give young girls telling them about the hotline designed to serve restaveks (children sold into slavery) and girls who have suffered abuse. I didn’t know when I left home that I would have access to this resource, and now we have the money to do the printing! Another ten dollar pledge came in today…enough to buy two skeins of yarn for the teenage girls at the orphanage…just what they asked for a few days ago (it took us a few days to find a place to buy them!). It seems amazing to me, how our daily needs are being met by those of you back home…thanks so much…it just feels like you are right here - reaching out and helping. Thank you so very much.

leisa

Wyclef Jean steps toward Haitian presidential race

Singer Wyclef Jean appears at a news conference in 
New York, January 27, 2010.     Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar


By Joseph Guyler Delva

Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:04pm EDT

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Grammy-award winning singer Wyclef Jean said on Thursday that he has taken legal steps toward running for president in quake-devastated Haiti, but has not made a definite decision to run.

Jean, who said he is qualified to run for Haiti's highest office, was in Haiti to work with lawyers and have his fingerprints taken by the judicial police as part of the legal process of preparing to run for president.

"I basically come out to Haiti today because it was important that I do my fingerprints," Jean told Reuters as he left the Port-au-Prince international airport for the United States on Thursday.

"There are a lot of rumors that I am running for president. I have not declared that," said Jean, 37. "If we decide to move forward, I am pretty sure that we have all our paperwork straight."

Haiti, which was ravaged on January 12 by a deadly 7.0-magnitude earthquake, is scheduled to vote on November 28 to elect a new leader to replace President Rene Preval, whose term ends in February.

The deadline for candidates to register is August 7. Jean said he will take his decision with his wife Claudinette and their daughter Angelina.

"As a family, we must decide on what we're going to do because it is a big sacrifice," he said.

Sources close to the singer told Reuters Jean will officially announce his candidacy next week on CNN before flying back to Haiti to enter the race. When asked by Reuters about such plans, Jean did not confirm or deny the preparations.

Many analysts predict Jean -- who is very popular among Haitians, particularly the young -- would easily win the presidential election if his candidacy were approved.

Jean immigrated to the United States at the age of 9, but has maintained his Haitian citizenship, a prerequisite for running. He showed his Haitian passport to Reuters reporters as he was going through Haitian immigration on Thursday.

News of his possible candidacy has created panic among traditional politicians and power holders who have long planned to run. They fear Jean's popularity and financial resources would give him a campaign advantage they could not hope to match.

"I think if Wyclef is allowed to run he will have a straight victory," said political leader and former presidential candidate Himmler Rebu.

A three-time Grammy award-winner, Jean was a founding member of the hip-hop trio The Fugees and won wider fame for his collaboration with Colombian pop star Shakira. He released a song two years ago called "If I Was President."

Jean established the Yele Haiti Foundation in 2005 to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Haiti. He said after the January 12 earthquake that killed up to 300,000 people that Haiti's future rested on education, job creation and investment.

"So I would think with all my allies around the world that have loved my music, that have loved the message and the work we have done with Yele Haiti, they understand I can't just sing right now," he said.

"When I am looking back at my career, I've sung songs all my life and I've watched singers sing songs about certain changes that we want, we say, you know what, we're going to turn them into a reality," Jean said.

(Editing by Jane Sutton and Eric Walsh)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Leisa's Haiti Journal #6: Beaches & Ballet


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dear Friends,

In Haiti , like in prison, we stockpile emotions.

A woman I took into Wharf Soleil a few days ago told me at one point that she just couldn't handle it. Wharf Soleil is a rough neighborhood within the slum, Cite Soleil. I have always held my own there, but you do have to be aware and thoughtful. The folks there have suffered more than most, and are frustrated.

We had gone out of the wharf to flag down a water truck, and were going back in.

“I’m afraid I’m going to cry,” she said.

"Try not to", it’s as simple as that. “We can’t add to their burden. Think of something else”, I said. Think of the children’s kites. Anything.

The disease and dirt is their struggle, not their fault.

Sure there is incredible pain...more and more the deeper you look.

A few days earlier, a man offered us his five year old daughter, because he couldn’t feed her anymore.

A young boy told me about his brother who died from drinking too much salt water mixed with left over ash...I heard later that this is sometimes done to stave off hunger.

The immense struggles for mere life deep in the slums are overwhelming. I couldn't do nearly as well as those that live here every day. I am sure I wouldn't last a week. Though the desperation, anger and frustration are etched on even the children's faces, so are strength, integrity and compassion.

For example, that day I had stepped into some black oily mud by mistake down by the wharf, where mothers were pleading for water and food. Even there, someone managed to find a cup of water for my shoe, and washed me...me....those with less than nothing wanted to help me and my little pathetic need.

But these struggles are not all there is to know about Haiti . Believe it or not, there are beautiful beaches in Haiti...believe it or not, I went to a kindergarten graduation on Sunday where little Haitian girls performed ballet in perfect white tutus...believe it or not, I still hope that Haiti can one day return to that millenniums-old balance between nature and man it once had (something my own culture has never attained)…believe it or not one day Haiti may be justified, restored and finally left in peace. One has to believe.

Peace, all ways and always…leisa

Donations may be made at:
http://coalitionfordemocracyinhaiti.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Leisa's Haiti Journal #5: Port au Prince Goes Dark


Sunday, July 25, 1:30 a.m.

Full-moon light shocked me awake by sliding through the dusty glass slats above my bed.

Port au Prince had gone dark tonight as I sat listening to a soft guitar by lantern and candle light on another roof-top nook at Michael’s temporary home. It happens most every night. After sweating our way through the day, earthquake relief workers usually manage to wander up to some high patio with a cold Prestige or two trying (mostly in vain) to catch a breath of wind and if you are really lucky, internet connection. Then, sure as the sun was hot, the power will fail.

When it goes, electricity fails for the entire city in one fell swoop, then one by one, you can see generators kick in, and twinkling lights start popping up all over town…all over the crest of the city that is. From where I looked over the ledge, only the wealthy homes ringing the crest of the city (that can afford a generator) had their lights pop back on. In fact, most homes go dark with the sun…not being able to afford the fickle electric grid anyway.

Even the word “homes” here is a euphemism, especially after the quake. 1.5 million Haitians were displaced and only 28 thousand have moved into “homes” (NYT July 11, 2010). Six months after the quake nothing has changed…frustration grows out of the rubble instead of new homes. Single digit percent of money donated to large NGOs and promised by foreign governments have made it to the streets lined with homeless people.

Prices for food continue to rise. Last year when we bought food for a certain orphanage, we could do it for about three hundred dollars…this year, that amount made us choose between buying black beans and rice…it breaks your heart.

If there is any way you can spread the word about our work here to friends who may want to help, but don’t know where to send it…please forward my journals. Every dollar means so much here. One gourde (less than one cent) buys a bucket of clean water.

Peace, all ways and always, leisa


Monday, July 26, 2010

Leisa's Haiti Journal #4: Huckleberry Finn


Sunday July 18, 2010

Dear Friends,

A little before 9 a.m. this morning, boy’s voices chanted a loud lilting response to Wallnes’ insistent drum calling us to Sunday service. Out on the roof of St. Joseph’s make-shift home for street boys there was standing-room only on the already sun baked deck overlooking the pit. (The pit is all that marks the spot where St. Joseph’s stood before the earthquake). The interfaith service was a mix of faith traditions with a vibrant Haitian cadence. Most prayers were sung (which my son Luke really liked). Most hearts seemed touched. Then one clear, young sweet voice swept through the air like breeze itself…fresh and inviting. After a solitary chorus, a softened duomo drum joined in. Gradually we all joined in. And despite the baking heat, we somehow felt refreshed for being allowed to be a part of it.

It was hard to imagine then the down pour that soaked our freshly stomped laundry this afternoon. We had just slopped our clean our laundry between two tubs of precious well water when the storm hit…at least we didn’t have to waste water rinsing…we simply let the rain rinse our clothes on the line. Hopefully, next morning will bring a fresh sunny breeze.

Tonight, Jim, the amputee rehab therapist on our team spiked a 103 fever and our clinic’s doctor was stranded across a rain-swollen river which isn’t expected to resend until early morning...his phone and our Haiti phone both gave out. Lucky for Jim, we were able to treat his high blood pressure, fever and other symptoms by calling our U.S. doctor consultant and by tapping in a bit to the donated drugs we are going to deliver to The Lamp Cite Soleil Clinic.

Tomorrow, I will interview three more children at the clinic.

The last time I did interviews, one little boy minded me of a Haitian Huckleberry Finn. He was squirming around in the high-back chair belted snugly into one-size-too-big, perfectly clean and pressed clothes that looked like they were actually causing him physical pain. When I told him he was almost done, he finally began to relax. One of the last questions we asked was, “If you won the lottery, what would you buy?”

“Spoons. I would buy spoons for my mother’s kitchen.”

Sort of puts things into perspective when a child’s greatest wish is for his mother to have spoons in her kitchen.

We are finding so many needs…

Please remember it is not too late to make a pledge by replying to this email, or better yet…you can donate online at our blog:

http://coalitionfordemocracyinhaiti.blogspot.com/

Peace, always and all ways…leisa

Leisa's Haiti Journal #3: Aristide's Birthday Demonstration


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dear Friends,

We finally have a moment of internet access here in Haiti. We are on our way to a demonstration at the Palace in honor of Aristide's birthday...it is a call for his return. I only have a moment...I am sorry.

We are staying at St. Joseph's...as some of you know, it is collapsed, and in the clearing stage which Luke is helping with.

They kindly made room for us in the remnant's of the adjoining house.

We have been to two amputee clinics making assessments, and the St. Pierre tent city on Delmas, in Port au Prince. The people there are angry and hungry. I see no improvement from two months ago. I was invited into a tent that 7 people share, barely large enough for one twin size cot...in the midday sun it was the hottest place I have ever been...it was not tall enough to stand in, so they take turns standing to sleep.

It cannot really be expalined....I just hugged her and said "mesi"....she seemed to like that at least we listened...there is so much to do, so much to say....more later...peace, leisa

Please feel free to post this journal

Wyclef Jean to run for Haitian presidency: report

Joseph Brean, National Post
Sunday, Jul. 25, 2010

Hip-hop star Wyclef Jean is set to announce his candidacy for president of Haiti, according to a report in an Ottawa-Gatineau newspaper.

Citing "a source close to the government" in Port-au-Prince, Le Droit reported that Mr. Jean is only waiting for paperwork to be finalized by next week's deadline.

The current president, René Préval, is barred by Haiti's laws from seeking a third term.

Polls set for February and March were cancelled by the earthquake that devastated the country on January 12. They will now be held November 28.

When he announced the election last month, Mr. Preval rejected the formal recommendations of a U.S. Senator, Richard Lugar, that the eight-member Provisional Electoral Council be disbanded due to corruption, and that the banned party of exiled former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Fanmi Lavalas, be allowed to sponsor candidates.

Mr. Jean, who fronted the hip-hop group The Fugees before taking on a solo career, emigrated from Haiti as a child and grew up in New York and New Jersey.

Since 2005 when he founded his Yéle Haiti Foundation, and especially since the earthquake, Mr. Jean has been heavily involved in Haitian philanthropy, focused on education and scholarships.

In an article for the U.K.'s Daily Mirror this weekend, he wrote: "Haiti still needs our help - more than ever. People around the world made lots of promises, and we want those promises to be kept. My wife Claudinette and I are passionate about rebuilding Haiti. We've seen the situation with our own

eyes, and we've been listening to others."

"Rebuilding has been delayed by land disputes, bureaucratic roadblocks, customs problems, differences of opinion about strategy and even delays in getting the actual pledged money to Haiti," he wrote. "I'm a warrior and can't stand by quietly while promises aren't kept. I won't ever surrender."

On Friday, as Mr. Jean rang the opening bell at New York's Nasdaq stock exchange, not long after posting an online message: "Just to Clear up the rumors I have not announced to the Press that I'm Running for President of Haiti."

Later that day, in an interview with Fox Business, he was asked if he would run and said, "I would say right now, currently at this minute, no."

A spokesperson for the Yéle Haiti Foundation told the Canadian Press yesterday that she had no comment, and that "we don't have anything definitive on our end, so if anything were to change, I'm sure a press release would be issued."

Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/Wyclef+Jean+Haitian+presidency+report/3321587/story.html#ixzz0ulvhfxLq

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dalembert Honored


[Editor's Note: On behalf of the greater Sacramento community and Kings fans everywhere, Children's Hope would like to congratulate new Kings center Samuel Dalembert on winning the prestigious Mannie Jackson Human Spirit Award and to welcome Mr. Dalembert to his new team and to our community. As Kings fans we are very happy that Samuel Dalembert's defensive presence in the post will help our team fill a desperate need. More importantly, as his new neighbors we are thrilled to bring to our town a true humanitarian and a genuine role model for the youth of our community. A hearty welcome to our new neighbor, Samuel Dalembert... many hands make the burden lighter. -- Paul B]

Sacramento Bee -- Kings/NBA Blog
http://blogs.sacbee.com/sports/kings/archives/2010/06/dalembert-honor.html

June 29, 2010

New Kings center Samuel Dalembert was one of three winners of the Mannie Jackson - Basketball's Human Spirit Award by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim and Massachusetts community leader Alfreda Harris were the other winners.

The award is presented to those "who have honored the game of basketball by virtue of their personal growth and life-long accomplishments," said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Dalembert was recognized for his charitable work in his homeland of Haiti.

Dalembert is the UNICEF national ambassador for Haiti. He has donated more than $125,000 for relief efforts following January's earthquake.

Dalembert was acquired in a trade with Philadelphia this month. He started the Samuel Dalembert Foundation in 2007, which looks to improve the quality of life in Haiti.

Dalembert is also an active in the NBA Cares program and has worked with Basketball Without Borders...

--Jason Jones

Read more: http://blogs.sacbee.com/sports/kings/archives/2010/06/dalembert-honor.html#ixzz0ujXeWeuL

Saturday, July 24, 2010

If I was President... more than just a song?

[Editor's Note: Have the Haitians found their Schwarzenegger? Interesting development in a country where former President Aristide's Lavalas party, which represents somewhere between 75-90% of the Haitian people, has been excluded from the November 28th presidential and parliamentary elections by President Preval's hand-picked Electoral Commission.]

Report: Wyclef Jean poised to run for Haitian presidency

The Associated Press
Date: Saturday Jul. 24, 2010 5:45 PM ET

Haitian-born musician Wyclef Jean is overcome with emotion while discussing his recent visit to earthquake-stricken Haiti and how is organization, Yele Haiti, is helping with relief efforts, Monday, Jan. 18, 2010, in New York. (AP / Diane Bondareff)
MONTREAL — A spokeswoman for Wyclef Jean isn't saying whether the hip hop star has plans to run for the Haitian presidency.

Adrienne Jacoby was responding to a report in an Ottawa-based newspaper that says the Haitian-born musician is poised to run for president.

French-language newspaper Le Droit reports that a source close to the Haitian government is "sure" the singer and producer will be a candidate.

Jacoby, who works for Jean's charitable Yele Haiti Foundation, says the performer would likely issue a statement if and when he announces his candidacy.

She says rumours have been circulating about the possibility of Jean making a run for the presidency of the Caribbean nation.

When asked by Fox Business this week if he would run for president, Jean responded "currently at this minute, no."

How to Write about Haiti

By Ansel Herz (http://mediahacker.org/)
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Huffington Post, July 23, 2010

Actor Sean Penn, who is helping manage a camp of displaced earthquake victims in Haiti, is making pointed criticisms of journalists for dropping the ball on coverage of Haiti. He's wrong. I've been on the ground in Port-au-Prince working as an independent journalist for the past ten months. I'm an earthquake survivor who's seen the big-time reporters come and go. They're doing such a stellar job and I want to help out, so I've written this handy guide for when they come back on the one-year anniversary of the January quake!

For starters, always use the phrase 'the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.' Your audience must be reminded again of Haiti's exceptional poverty. It's doubtful that other articles have mentioned this fact.

You are struck by the 'resilience' of the Haitian people. They will survive no matter how poor they are. They are stoic, they rarely complain, and so they are admirable. The best poor person is one who suffers quietly. A two-sentence quote about their misery fitting neatly into your story is all that's needed.

On your last visit you became enchanted with Haiti. You are in love with its colorful culture and feel compelled to return. You care so much about these hard-working people. You are here to help them. You are their voice. They cannot speak for themselves.

Don't listen if the Haitians speak loudly or become unruly. You might be in danger, get out of there. Protests are not to be taken seriously. The participants were probably all paid to be there. All Haitian politicians are corrupt or incompetent. Find a foreign authority on Haiti to talk in stern terms about how they must shape up or cede power to incorruptible outsiders.

The US Embassy and United Nations always issue warnings that demonstrations are security threats. It is all social unrest. If protesters are beaten, gassed, or shot at by UN peacekeepers, they probably deserved it for getting out of control. Do not investigate their constant claims of being abused.

It was so violent right after the January 2010 earthquake. 'Looters' fought over goods 'stolen' from collapsed stores. Escaped prisoners were causing mayhem. It wasn't necessary to be clear about how many people were actually hurt or died in fighting. The point is that it was scary.

Now many of those looters are 'squatters' in 'squalid' camps. Their tent cities are 'teeming' with people, like anthills. You saw your colleagues use these words over and over in their reports, so you should too. You do not have time to check a thesaurus before deadline.

Point out that Port-au-Prince is overcrowded. Do not mention large empty plots of green land around the city. Of course, it is not possible to explain that occupying US Marines forcibly initiated Haiti's shift from distributed, rural growth to centralized governance in the capital city. It will not fit within your word count. Besides, it is ancient history.

If you must mention Haiti's history, refer vaguely to Haiti's long line of power-hungry, corrupt rulers. The 'iron-fisted' Duvaliers, for example. Don't mention 35 years of US support for that dictatorship. The slave revolt on which Haiti was founded was 'bloody' and 'brutal.' These words do not apply to modern American offensives in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Today, Cite Soleil is the most dangerous slum in the world. There is no need to back up this claim with evidence. It is 'sprawling.' Again, there's no time for the thesaurus. Talk about ruthless gangs, bullet holes, pigs and trash. Filth everywhere. Desperate people are eating cookies made of dirt and mud! That always grabs the reader's attention.

Stick close to your hired security or embed yourself with UN troops. You can't walk out on your own to profile generous, regular folk living in tight-knit neighborhoods. They are helpless victims, grabbing whatever aid they can. You haven't seen them calmly dividing food amongst themselves, even though it's common practice.

Better to report on groups that periodically enter from outside to deliver food to starving kids (take photos!). Don't talk to the youth of Cite Soleil about how proud they are of where they come from. Probably gang members. Almost everyone here supports ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. But their views aren't relevant. There is no need to bring politics into your story.

You can't forget to do another story about restaveks. Child slaves. It's so shocking. There is little new information about restaveks, so just recycle old statistics. Present it as a uniquely Haitian phenomenon. Enslaved Haitian farmworkers in southern Florida, for example, aren't nearly as interesting.

When you come back here in six months, there will still be a lot of desperate poor people who have received little to no help. There are many big, inefficient foreign NGOs in Haiti. Clearly something is wrong. Breathless outrage is the appropriate tone.

But do not try to get to the bottom of the issue. Be sure to mention that aid workers are doing the best they can. Their positive intentions matter more than the results. Don't name names of individuals or groups who are performing poorly. Reports about food stocks sitting idly in individual warehouses are good. Investigations into why NGOs are failing to effect progress in Haiti are boring and too difficult. Do not explore Haitian-led alternatives to foreign development schemes. There are none. Basically, don't do any reporting that could change the system.

On the other hand, everyone here loves Bill Clinton and Wyclef Jean. There are no dissenting views on this point. Never mind that neither lives here. Never mind that Clinton admitted to destroying Haiti's domestic rice economy in the '90s. Never mind that Jean's organization has repeatedly mismanaged relief funds. That's all in the past. They represent Haiti's best hope for the future. Their voices matter, which means the media must pay close attention to them, which means their voices matter, which means the media must ...

Finally, when you visit Haiti again: Stay in the same expensive hotels. Don't live close to the people. Produce lots of stories and make money. Pull up in your rented SUV to a camp of people who lost their homes, still living under the wind and rain. Step out into the mud with your waterproof boots. Fresh notepad in hand. That ragged-looking woman is yelling at you that she needs help, not another foreigner taking her photo. Her 3-year-old boy is standing there, clinging to her leg. Her arms are raised, mouth agape, and you can't understand her because you don't speak Haitian Creole.

Remove the lens cap and snap away. And when you've captured enough of Haiti's drama, fly away back home.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/crossover-dreams/a-guide-for-american-jour_b_656689.html

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Leisa's Haiti Journal #2: Leaving for Haiti... Never too Late


Dear Friends,

Port au Prince is just around the corner.

I can almost feel humid smoke-filled dust rising from the streets... one has to wonder how it can be so damp and so dusty at the same time... but it is. We take off tomorrow, but what I see already are the children's faces... anxious, brave and hopeful against all odds.

...lucky for me, impressions of half naked boys flying the most unbelievable kites you can imagine fly in right behind memories of sick and injured children.

I have to say thank you for your support.

We have spent every dollar in pledges and more. Hopefully folks will keep sending in support for Children's Hope to cover costs of bags of rice, beans and powdered milk we will have to buy for orphanages like Mabo and 3 Angels... and to help St. Joseph's Home for Boys in their rebuilding.

My son, Luke, is bringing his tool belt (his first trip to Haiti) to help with construction of St. Joes where we will stay. I've been told we may only have a bed behind a wall... but that is all part of the rebuilding effort.

I am always so grateful for the effort you all put in, who would like to go to Haiti with us, but need to stay back home. Thank you so very much... and if you can, please spread the word. We will be able to get messages of pledges during the next three weeks of our trip, and of course it is very encouraging to get your supportive emails as well. We can be reached by email at Childrenshope@live.com or you can go online to our blog. Please check it out, as we've posted some great articles, photos and music videos over the past few days, and we will continue to post updates over the next few weeks.
http://coalitionfordemocracyinhaiti.blogspot.com/

peace, all ways and always, leisa


Leisa Faulkner, Executive Director
Children's Hope
3025 A Cambridge Road
Cameron Park, CA 95682


Text me @ 916.801.4184
Email: childrenshope@live.com

Noam Chomsky: "U.S. Role in Haiti Destruction"

Friday, July 9, 2010

Haiti Still Suffering Six Months on From Earthquake

Published on Friday, July 9, 2010 by The Telegraph/UK
Six months after an earthquake devastated Haiti's capital and killed up to 300,000 people, Port-au-Prince is still a city of rubble, tented squalor and desperate need, charities have said.

by Tom Leonard in New York

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, founder of the British aid charity Mary's Meals, has given the verdict after returning to the shattered Caribbean country.

On his first return trip since he went into Port-au-Prince just a few days after the quake in January, Mr MacFarlane-Barrow said he saw little evidence of the billions in aid that was pledged by a world stunned by the scale of the catastrophe.

"My overriding feeling has been one of great disappointment. I can't see that anything has changed for people since the earthquake," he said yesterday.

Before the earthquake, his charity, which has been a beneficiary of The Daily Telegraph Christmas Appeal, was feeding thousands of Haitian children, particularly in Cité Soleil, the shanty town on the edge of Port-au-Prince which has long been regarded as one of the world's worst slums.

"Driving about in the centre of Port-au-Prince, very little appears to have changed from six months ago," he said. "Most of the buildings are exactly as they were immediately after the earthquake, even the iconic buildings like the presidential palace and the cathedral are just standing there as they were." He said he was particularly struck not to see any "big earth moving equipment", adding: "I expected there would be lots of that. Any work that is being done is people working through the rubble by hand." Others report that, in stark contrast to the weeks after the earthquake when the major charities poured into Port-au-Prince, their vehicles are far thinner on the ground now.

To a degree, Haitians are getting on with their daily lives. The markets are open as are many of the schools. However, an estimated 1.2 million are still camping out in tents and tarpaulins, many without basic sanitation. Chaos over property ownership has complicated rebuilding efforts while the onset of what is expected to be a particularly wet storm season has prompted the United Nations to warn that a serious hurricane could be "devastating" to Haiti.

"The tents are everywhere - on the central reservation of the highways, on the pavements, and in places where houses used to be," said Mr MacFarlane-Barrow. "In the past couple of days it has been raining so there are streams running between the tents." A new report by the British Red Cross has warned that aid agencies providing water and sanitation are stretched to capacity and cannot keep going indefinitely.

The charity blamed the snail's pace reconstruction on a combination of government "dysfunction" and the scale of the disaster. It has not helped that only two per cent of the pounds 3.5 billion promised in short-term international aid has reportedly got to Haiti.

Certainly, the nightmare scenario - mass starvation and large-scale outbreaks of diarrhoea or cholera in the camps - has not happened. Jean-Max Bellerive, Haiti's prime minister, feels justified in saying that the "total chaos" immediately after the quake is now "organised chaos".

Ordinary Haitians are "surprisingly upbeat", said Mr MacFarlane-Barrow, although he acknowledged they are "incredibly resilient people they're not sitting around worrying about hurricanes coming".

He said he had been struck by the progress made by ordinary people in Cité Soleil to rebuild their lives. "Yesterday, I saw them rebuilding local schools, the men filling cement mixers, queues of women walking in with buckets of water to pour in." he said.

Cité Soleil has been the focus of security concerns after many of the country's most dangerous criminals were feared to have fled there after the earthquake destroyed the main prison.

But Mr MacFarlane-Barrow said he was cheered to see that the children had come back to the slum's schools where Mary's Meals had also been able to feed many of the elderly without disruption from criminal elements.

The main priority, he believes, must be proper clear-up operations and rebuilding, preferably involving local people themselves to create employment.

Many Haitians do not have running water, electricity or adequate food - but, then, they didn't before the earthquake. "With the best will in the world those problems can't be solved overnight," said Mr MacFarlane-Barrow. "But I remain optimistic - I just hope for the people's sake it happens sooner rather than later."

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Future remains uncertain in quake-ravaged country


photo credit: ALEXANDRE MENEGHINI / Associated Press

A youth plays street soccer in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The headmaster of a nonprofit school said students often drop out to earn money for the family.

By Andrew MacCalla
Special to The Bee

Published Sunday, Jun. 27, 2010

Since the devastating earthquake that rocked Haiti on Jan. 12, I've spent nearly three months in the Caribbean island nation conducting assessments of health care providers in order to deliver needed medical supplies. My time in the capital of Port au Prince, in deeply impoverished communities and in outlying towns has provided a good introduction to the obstacles facing Haiti in its efforts to rebuild. However, the more time I spend there, the more Haiti feels like a study in opposites. It is a country that just cannot seem to get ahead, despite all the help it has received and the great character of its people.

In my work for Direct Relief International, California's largest privately funded international nonprofit, I have been locating and determining the needs of quality medical facilities in Haiti, the ones that are still standing anyway. They range from large-scale hospitals to facilities made up of a couple of tarps propped up in tent cities engulfing Port-au-Prince.

The goal of Direct Relief, which focuses on bringing critically needed medicines and supplies to health care providers worldwide, is to allow these facilities to maintain patient care for tens of thousands of people, and to enable patients and facilities to get a foundation for the long recovery effort ahead.

But as I leave Sacramento today and head back to Haiti for my fourth trip, solutions to rebuild the country remain elusive.

Haitian presidential election set for Nov. 28

By JONATHAN M. KATZ (AP) – Jun 29, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haitian President Rene Preval set Nov. 28 as the date voters will choose his successor as leader of the earthquake-shattered Caribbean nation.

The much-anticipated decree setting the election date was signed Tuesday beside Port-au-Prince's collapsed national palace, bearing the signatures of the president, prime minister and Cabinet. Voters will also choose legislators for Haiti's now mostly vacant parliament.

The date itself is not a surprise: Haiti's current constitution mandates elections be held the last Sunday of November in the fifth year of the president's term.

But opponents had expressed concern that Preval was dragging his feet on holding the election, especially after he signed a decree extending his term by three months if voting was not held on time. That decision was met with protests. He responded by pledging to leave office by Feb. 7, 2011.

Organizing the elections will be no simple task.

The electoral council's headquarters were destroyed and records lost in the Jan. 12 quake, while millions of voters were either killed, made homeless or displaced. Before the quake Preval's opponents accused him of manipulating the council to benefit his allies and threatened to disrupt elections if the current officials are not replaced.

The Organization of American States, United Nations and others have pledged support for setting up the elections. Officials cite the need for national organization in the rebuilding and continuing efforts to strengthen democratic institutions in a country where government overthrows have been far more common than free elections.

Haiti's constitution does not permit Preval to run again.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Haiti’s Préval: Damned if he doesn’t, or even if he does: President René Préval and post-quake elections in Haiti


by COHA (Council on Hemispheric Affairs) Research Associate Isabelle Van Hook

• Préval’s shortcomings, although undeniable, should be cause of lamentation, not celebration

• How not to lead a nation

Upcoming 2010 Elections: Keystone of Haitian Stability

Amidst the chaos and devastation caused by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti in January of this year, political catastrophe threatens to exacerbate an already acute humanitarian crisis. Following the earthquake, Haiti’s electoral council suspended the scheduled February legislative elections. The legislative term expired on May 8th, and there are currently no concrete plans for holding new elections.

Presidential elections are scheduled for November 2010; however, the continued disorder and turmoil within the country are also jeopardizing the chances of successfully staging these elections on schedule. Furthermore, the incumbent President, Rene Préval, recently added fuel to the political fire by announcing in early May his intention to remain in office an additional three months beyond the constitutional limit of his term. He has since renounced this decision in response to the surge of resulting negative reactions.

Nevertheless, the prospects for valid elections this year are as shaky as the makeshift homes in which most Haitians continue to live. Throughout May, Haitians expressed their increasing frustration with Préval’s inadequate response and a vacuum of leadership that was seen in the aftermath of the earthquake as well as his disregard for constitutional issues. Although the demonstrators have been relatively peaceful thus far, the protests portend a future escalation of hostilities and even a resurgence of gang-related violence. Clearly, Préval has not carried out his duties as a leader. His once lofty reputation has by now all but dissipated, and many are already calling for his resignation.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

July 2010 Haiti Journal #1: Leaving for Port au Prince in Six Days

[Leisa and Paul in front of what used to be the Haitian National Assembly building, or Haitian Parliament. Many members of the National Assembly and legislative staff members were killed in the January 12 earthquake.]

Dear Friends,

Children's Hope goes back to Haiti in six days. This will be trip #14... our fourth since the deadly Earthquake of January 12. It was the worst natural disaster in recorded history. Almost a quarter million of our sisters and brothers were killed, hundreds of thousands injured and thousands amputeed.

The whole world stopped for a moment in solidarity.

The moment has passed but the struggle to survive, to recover and to rebuild continues.

The mainstream media couldn't get enough of Haiti, and of Children's Hope... for a moment. We spoke, wrote and were interviewed dozens of times, traveled when asked, spoke when invited... always free of charge and often to very generous groups. You, our regular patrons were incredibly supportive, for which we are so very grateful.

Here's the problem. Haiti's nightmare moment just won't stop.

I was on the phone several times today with a clinic in Cite Soleil, the most notorious urban slum in the Western hemisphere and a home away from home of sorts for Children's Hope. Conditions there are always quite difficult, but they are especially bad right now. The resilient people of Cite Soleil have just endured a most difficult rainy season. More children than ever are sick and malnourished from the constant wet, inadequake housing and lack of basic resources.

Roads, water and electricity, already bad, are much worse than before. Housing is atrocious (tarps, tents, sheets and cardboard).

The hurricane season takes over now, and is predicted to be 10 times more violent than normal.

I know that folks have already given far more than in any other year for Haiti relief, but we continue to serve those communities that other larger non-profits won't... and we keep going back.

Children's Hope is a non-profit humanitarian organization. We have no paid staff. Our team members pay their own way. We rely on your continued generostiy to contribute and to spread the word to your friends, neighbors, co-workers and other members of our community. If you have limited resources, you can help tremendously just by spreading the word! One 10 year- old boy collected hundreds of dollars worth of children's vitamins and over the counter meds! Yea, Aiden! Mumbo Gumbo did a benefit concert! A local dentist donated 400 toothbrushes!

Right now:

We need cash to buy malaria meds, children's vitamins, children's cold remedies, children's ibuprofen and children's tylenol.

We need pregnancy tests and condoms donated.

We need cash donations to buy anti-biotics. We would love to have a GYN doctor head over to our clinic in Cite Soleil...also HIV counselors badly needed.

If you can reasonably manage to make a pledge for HAITI, please do so now. You can donate in two ways:

1) Email your pledge amount to us at ChildrensHope@live.com and then drop your check in the mail to "Children's Hope" at 3025A Cambridge Rd., Cameron Park, CA 95682; or

2) Click on the "Donate" button on this page.

I will have some email access this week, and hopefully in Haiti, so I plan on sending out journal entries to you all over the next month with updates on our progress.

By the way, we will have two additional projects this time: 1) our "HART" team Haiti Amputee Rehab Team), thanks to Jim Thweatt, a West Sacramento rehab specialist; and 2) my Children's Poverty Research Project through the Sociology Department at Sacramento State University.

The important work that we have been doing in Haiti is 100% dependent on your generosity over the years, most especially over the past six months. As our Haitian friends like to say, "Many hands make the burden lighter."

thank you for being part of Children's Hope ,

peace, all ways and always,

leisa