It seems as though the people of Haiti can not catch a break. Since January 12, 2010 images of the first republic led by people of African descent have been plastered across newspapers, websites, blogs and television. Interest in popular media seems to come in waves and lulls. When an imminent crisis crops up, the media is there. When people rise up against discontent, whether it be prisoners or displaced communities demanding to know WHERE THE MONEY WENT; reports reaching Western ears are skewed. False and biased reported isn’t new, in fact most Americans expect it. But get this, its even worse than any of us can imagine. Since my return from Haiti in August my ears have stayed open to those I know on the ground. I first got wind of the cholera outbreak in the Artibonite region on twitter. I didn’t pay too much attention to the first couple of tweets. Then I began the see more and hear more about what was going on. I immediately thought about my good friend who is from Saint Marc and his father who is currently living there. Most of the first confirmed cases of cholera and the first known deaths were all in Saint Marc. I then thought about my other friends in different parts of Haiti. Then I thought about the endless stream of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the sheer incompetence and lack of compassion many of them have shown not only in the past 10 months, but also prior to the earthquake. The recent cholera outbreak is no surprise to anyone who has laid eyes on the reality of Haiti. No toilets, no plumbing and no regular access to clean water is a recipe for disaster. The video below gives a glimpse at how the outbreak may have started.
The United Nations mission in Haiti has been on the ground for 20 years. In that time various missions focused on restructuring and developing the national police and governing structures. International aid organizations such as Partners in Health have been in Haiti for over 20 years. Many leaders in the Diaspora are asking the questions funders and governments supporting the UN and NGO’s should ask. What tangible results have they achieved? Has the focus on security instead of sustainable economic development actually improved the lives of Haitians? Are you actually working yourselves out of jobs by working to help Haiti empower itself? The UN and other aid organizations tend to cite government corruption, lack of infrastructure and other uncontrollable circumstances when asked where the money ACTUALLY goes.
WHY so many excuses?
In the spring of 2007 while joining my sorority I learned a number of lessons. One enduring lesson I learned was that excuses are indeed the tools of the incompetent. They truly build monuments of nothingness. In the Haitian case those who use the most excuses deserve to be barred from ever touching Haitian soil again. The nothingness built by many aid organizations keep Haitian in the “hands out” position. It keeps a country at the mercy of those who act only in their own interests. It creates a situation where the only thing between over 1 million people and a tropical storm is a plastic tarpaulin and prayer.
The January 12th earthquake killed an estimated 250,000 people, injured 300,000 and left about 1.4 million Haitian citizens (not refugees) homeless and internally displaced. The earthquake killed at least 250,000; but poor infrastructure, poor international led relief efforts and a government functioning without firm legs will kill more in the long run. Physical death by natural disaster is often unavoidable. I spoke with Gabrielle Vincent of Sonje Ayiti today over facebook chat and she shared shocking information with me. Tropical storm Tomas has already flooded a number of areas in the South including Port-Salus, Les Anglais, Cayes, and Leogane. She even knows of one man how died in his car during the flooding while others where able to make it out in time.
Who will pay for the deaths caused by aid organizations claiming to build infrastructure and feed people? Anyone who uses excuses in the face of human suffering deserves to be banished from the space in which their incompetence thrives. Haiti is not the only space this incompetence lives, but that’s for another post and another day.