Calling for UN Immediate Relief and Recovery for Haiti.
What is there to say about this tragedy? What to do? How to get there? As a Caribbean national having grown up in New York, I have always been around Haitians; they were my next door neighbors, renting from the old Jewish lady with mezuzahs on her doorways, as existed on my home.
I have moved through life with Haitians. I had a boyfriend from Haiti; we met as we both launched careers as international development professionals heading to Africa on our first trip overseas. As I began my doctorate, I was at a school and in a circle truly international, a few of whom were Haitian. A close and most giving girlfriend is from Haiti. Edwidge Danticat is a personal friend, both of us writers, she far more advanced and public. I first met her in 1998 at a National Book Association meeting in Chicago; she was marketing "the farming of bones". I have a signed advanced reader's copy. I met her again through my University friend as they both now reside in Miami. I just wrote both of them on this current tragedy to befall Haiti (Ayiti). What happens there in that country is part of my story, my history, and my reality. Haitians are a part of my circle, so I just reached out to those hurt, in pain, and loss, suffering to let them know they are not alone; that weight is not carried in solitude.
As a person of African appearance and heritage, not omitting my Spanish Venezuelan genotype mitochondria, Haiti is central to my identity. As the first Black Country in the world to demand, fight for and win its liberty from the French, Haiti has never stopped paying for its independence. Haiti is the first and only country that was made to pay reparations to its colonialists for its freedom. The world is mad in a myriad of ways; many unknown. So upon this strategy apart from having to prepare myself for the impact and devastation, I must also steel myself for the umpteen times I will hear Haiti described as the "poorest nation in the world" or as "the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere." If Haiti could get a thousand dollars for every time those phrases will be and have been mentioned in the last 36 hours, Haiti could surely purchase some of the relief it needs, like several medical ships, additional ships with food, water, blankets, lights and survival supplies. Inclusive would be a few hundred thousand portable potties, and of course rebuilding materials, this time, by international code.
And that is one of my points or muses, that Ayiti is part of the world circle. I suspect that country with all its rich yet unheralded but maligned history and course in the world is central to our collective humanity, no matter what one espouses or appears appertaining to identity. It is yet unclear and I am still reaching for a clear delineation of what my spirit senses, but Haiti is not alone, its life and experiences are blemishes on the collective world soul. Its experience is as a direct consequence of our embrace or shun. Its trajectory was immediately schemed planned intended and implemented. It has never recovered. Yet, Haitians are among the world's most resistant and resilient. But how much it takes is no longer on its balance sheet. It is on ours. I sense that this morning.
For all the cost Ayiti the country and its citizens have been made to pay, as well all those around the globe who have been maligned with the title to behavior and impact as Haitian, the world should now pay her back for all the suffrage and suffering extended; the ignorance and neglect. Cuba is not the first country to withstand a world embargo, Ayiti is.
And the charge against ourselves is most burdened by those in the region: By the Dominican Republic with its own sullied history and instructed despise. By the Bolivian Republic, Venezuela who Ayiti helped decades ago in its fight for independence but casually discarded post. By Cuba too, as I wonder why Fidel never made that country a sub-project to implement his success of national survival in the midst of world extrication. The reality of black skin does not escape even amongst the greatest of us in rose colored glasses.
But upon this latest tragedy, the complete crippling, the utter destruction of a nation's national heritage and identity; all sacred buildings demolished, the Presidential Palace, the Cathedral, the four story Market and others. All access immobilized as the airport tower is no longer, no electricity, no hospital as that was demolished as well. There is the requirement and deep call to conscience. Ayiti needs more than help. I am not even calling it help. I am saying the world's debt ticket on Ayiti has called. All must rally. I think the United Nations must make the following proclamation:
- That Ayiti's debt by all countries must be wiped clean
- That said debt by dollar owed to other countries associated to Ayiti be now funneled back and into the country at this immediate moment
- That the reparations Ayiti paid to France upon its Independence be paid back to Haiti in its compounded value, in 20% increments, now and to eternity or whenever the debt dollar in current value and parity is paid
- That all countries coordinate, according to the United Nations monitoring, a concerted effort to rebuild Ayiti according to Haiti's needs and wishes. These infrastructures include roads, train transport, schools, hospitals, government and local government buildings, running water facilities, proper treatment plants, proper sewage, recycling, garbage systems, solar and wind power, reforestation of its land, buildings, homes for its population, human and capacity building programs, and more.
- That the United Nations must create an independent Haiti Relief & Recovery entity and program and require every nation of the globe to give something of significance to Haiti.
This list of needs and demands is in no way complete or sufficient, but just the beginning.
A major requirement I would ask in this United Nations Haiti Recovery is for women to take the helm of leadership:
- That a woman be in charge
- That women around the globe; professionals of all sectors, who believe they have some bearing for Haiti's future, volunteer to be among the cadre.
It is part of the new and needed dispensation. We cannot create the new with the old, and we have had enough of men warring over territory, leadership, exploitation and riches; we need balance. If I am to believe the materials emerging this day upon Haiti's 7.0 Massive Earthquake, it is the men who are creating more destruction.
I am merely advocating that the creators of crimes against humanity begin to pay, even if they are the suit and tie societies, nations, advanced of the world. We need the creative and ground-level character of the country that is Haiti, that resilience, to be its future foundation. I am trusting the world's women of spirit and soul covenant and character will encourage the women of Ayiti to be the face, hands and legs to that hope.
It is time for correction, time to stop the madness rend on Haiti, and I make the nomination for a rally.
In the meantime, here is how we can all help: Haiti Earthquake Relief.
Notes by other writers
Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, Concannon lived in Haiti for eight years. He said today: "In the short term the Haitian people need the international community to respond to this tragedy with massive amounts of disaster relief. But in the long term, the Haitian people need the international community to stop imposing policies that make them more vulnerable to natural disasters. These policies include trade and aid policies that force rural Haitians into the cities where there is no safe housing for them, and political policies that undermine or overthrow democratically-elected governments that do try to provide safe housing and services in rural areas."
Author of "The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier". Wilentz is now a professor at the University of California at Irvine. One of the issues she can address is practices of environmental degradation that are often pursued in Haiti because of economic conditions, thus leaving the country more vulnerable to disasters. She can also discuss Haiti's politics, history, medicine and US aid. She is available for a limited number of interviews on Wednesday, becoming more available beginning Thursday.
Fletcher is executive editor of The Black Commentator and former president of TransAfrica Forum.
Sponsors and Donations
The UN Post is seeking sponsors and accepting donations to support the author of this article in:
- Setting up Soup Tents in Haiti where large vats of soup will be made from the donated canned soup
- Setting up centers to provide clean clothes and clean water for drinking and showering
- Setting up distribution stands for bottled water in various sizes
- Setting up laundering centers created and donated by detergent companies
- Providing portable potties, toilet tissues and soap throughout Port Au Prince and surrounding boundaries
- Providing women hygiene kits and baby supplies including formula, powdered milk, cereal, diapers and wipes.
Melise D. Huggins
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