Georgianne Nienaber: There is a crisis right now in Haiti and everyone is aware of it. Anyone who is following the election knows exactly what is going on, and it is not a number problem.
Georgianne Nienaber: Haiti’s Potemkin village, the Camp Corail-Cesselesse relocation camp, is not safe. With the approach of Tomas, which is morphing daily from tropical storm to hurricane and back again, Haitian officials are urging the 7,850 residents of its flagship camp to evacuate and “find different locations.”
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: 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.
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: 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: 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.
Michele Wasdin: It is simplistic to argue that remittances are bad because money is leaving the U.S., but upon further analysis, it becomes clear that remittances return to the U.S. in the form of increased exports. Remittances give individuals in foreign countries the ability to buy U.S. goods and the ability to invest in themselves which, in turn, allows them to buy even more U.S. goods.
Lawrence Wittner: So why should humanitarian aid be extraordinary? Why not make it routine? Long before the earthquake, Haitians were the poorest people in the hemisphere, suffering from widespread hunger, disease, and illiteracy. Could not the United States — the richest nation in the world with a public whose major anxieties (to judge from the vast attention given to weight loss) seem to result from over-eating — manage to share a bit of its affluence by regularly providing food aid to starving Haitians?
As Barack Obama looks abroad for allies in the war in Afghanistan, he should move fast to put Canada at the top of his list. Thus far, however, the incoming administration’s message to Canadians has been disappointing. The principal problem is Obama’s use of Defense Secretary Robert Gates as his primary recruiter of Canadian support. [...]