Georgianne Nienaber: Haiti is not waving at America. Haiti has the professional expertise to help itself, if only given the opportunity and monetary support to do so. Yes, accountability is needed, but for USAID to suggest that “aid professionals” are the only entities that can accomplish this is not true. Haiti is not an abandoned infant, needing a savior. Abandoned by the international banking community, yes, but fully capable of taking care of her people if given the resources to do so.
Georgianne Nienaber: Writing about the shattered hopes and dreams of the Haitian people is like trying to describe the movements of a symphony to a hearing-impaired person. How does one separate the elements of the whole, the hundreds of conversations, pleas, and stories that assault the senses, while explaining to an indifferent world that they must open their eyes because the cries of the Haitian people are certainly falling on deaf ears?
Georgianne Nienaber: In an unbelievable lack of planning and haphazard distribution of “aid,” a Potemkin Village of white tents courtesy of USAID’s implementing partners, World Vision and OXFAM, now adjoins Camp Canaan. Look beneath the surface of this flagship Haitian government project and one realizes that the residents of “Camp Corail” are really no better off than the residents of Camp Canaan, except for the fact that their tents do not leak–so far.
Georgianne Nienaber: As she knelt with her back to the writer, the Grandmother stopped the smoothing, stopped the straightening, and grew very quiet. Her shoulders began to heave and it was obvious she was wracked with sobs. The task was hopeless and the Creole cries were soft at first and then became a wail. Not knowing what else to do, the writer sat down in the water and touched the back of the elegant Grandmother.
Dr. Jim Wilson: Praecipio was able to rapidly conduct a “radar sweep” using the Internet and by monitoring Twitter feeds across six languages for the island of Hispaniola, which includes the countries of Haiti and Dominican Republic. We knew instantly from media, blogs, and SMS traffic what was being documented in terms of infectious disease. Consultation with peer-reviewed academic literature enabled us to construct a baseline for several diseases of concern and issue the first infectious disease forecast report in the world, for Haiti, on January 17, 2010.
Georgianne Nienaber: Health care in Haiti before the earthquake was inadequate. Now many health care workers have been killed, others have left the country and those that remain are overwhelmed not only with delivering care, but also with putting their own lives back together and dealing with friends and family who lost everything in the quake. So what happens? Predictably, the international NGOs roll in and force the closure of part of the established infrastructure. Why? One would suspect so that they can garner a part of the billions in funding promised by the UN donor conference.
Georgianne Nienaber: “The problem with public affairs reporting in poor nations is that for the western media there is no news unless horror is ongoing. Real media has vanished.” Let’s hope that the infants in Haiti can miraculously avoid the looming horrors. If they begin dying by the thousands, rest assured mainstream will be there, detailing every last dying breath and the valiant attempts of their celebrity doctors to save lives.
Georgianne Nienaber: Dr. Wilson is pulling no punches and is predicting the possible outbreak of infant diarrheal disease within 30 days. There is no time to waste and it seems unconscionable that CARE would issue a press release, picked up by Reuters (with a disclaimer, but no follow up) that all is well with sanitation in Haiti.
Georgianne Nienaber: Relief efforts are limping along. There are thousands of foreign NGOs on the ground, but no overall organized effort to distribute aid. Compounding the problem is the fact that IDP camps are springing up overnight, and rural areas face a different set of problems than those faced in the city of Port-au-Prince.
Georgianne Nienaber: Needs are many. Temporary classrooms are a must, but tents are impossible to come by here. The current school will never be used, but the field is secured at 83 Delmas Road. She needs $20,000 to pay it off completely. Haitian officials have promised tents, but it is doubtful they will arrive.
Georgianne Nienaber: While Leogane is completely overrun with NGOs, Fayette gets visits from the occasional scientist, and the only camera lens focused on the village is aboard NASA’s EO-1 satellite. Villagers told us they have not seen any aid workers since the quake. Nestled in fertile, natural surroundings along the Momance River, the local population is self-sufficient. They are not requesting money, food or water, but they do not want to be forgotten, either.
Georgianne Nienaber: So, the writer does what writers do and steps back, walking alone and searching for vowels and consonants that might describe what is unseen and impossible to understand. Then something happens that challenges the morality and duty of the writer. There is something on the ground that does not fit the pattern of stones and vegetation. A pelvis attached to a spinal column is lying in the open. Pieces of ribs, a wrist and a forearm are nearby. The writer knows it is human but wants it to be something else. It is familiar and something she has seen before.
Georgianne Nienaber: Regine Simon-Barjon, speaking for the Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce as the CEO of Biotek Solutions did, and she courageously faced off against a room full of companies, some well-intentioned and some not, who were poised to get paid lots of money to provide “aid” to earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
Jacqueline Bacon. Beneath the surface of Robertson’s remarks there is another underlying assumption, one both racist and ingrained in conventional American lore. In his bizarre and merciless condemnation of the Haitian Revolution, Robertson perpetuates an unfortunately all-too-common historical myth: that black people are incapable of freeing themselves, and must rely on outside forces to “save” them.