WHAT ARE YOU GIVING HAITI FOR CHRISTMAS?

Earlier today, I twitted: “What are you giving Haiti for Christmas?” My friend Zaffa asked me for suggestions, which basically pushed me to write this piece. Some of you promised to give her clothes, money, bags of food, etc… Those are great!!! However, I think we can and must use a much better approach since we have been giving her those things every year and nothing has changed really. The reason for that is because those things are perishables. We need to be giving her durable goods.

The future of Haiti lies in the hands of the Diaspora. We outside the country are the only chance Haiti has, and we cannot afford not to deliver effectively and efficiently.

We are the brain and backbone of Haiti. In other words, we represent Haiti’s central nervous system; we are the reason why she is still standing, breathing and alive.

Let’s picture this battle-fighting metaphor to grasp the point for effective and durable action I am making. Haiti is on the battlefield fighting for her life, and the Diaspora is the only round she has in the magazine of her weapon to fire and make a difference; the enemy is furiously approaching. This has got to be a one-shot-one-kill type of situation. She must aim, shoot and annihilate the enemy. That’s how eminent the Diaspora is for her survivability and sustainability.

The question is now this: how can we transform the dormant Diaspora into a change engine to bring about the necessary changes our country Haiti desperately needs?

Right about now, we are scattered like a shattered glass. With such an outlook, there is no way we can be as effective in our delivery as we should. So it has become a matter of urgency to reconstruct and restructure the Diaspora into one bold and compact entity. Remember, only in unity there is hope and strength.

We need a bottom-up type of movement to start in the Diaspora. For that to occur, we need to start with each and every single one of us to integrate the ranks of a grass-roots organization. That is the very first step towards the reconstruction and the restructuration process. Once we do that, the next step should be to have all the organizations in each state to fall under one umbrella organization. Then delegates from all the state umbrella organizations are to convene in a general assembly to elect the Haitian leadership for the Diaspora.

Whether you want to admit it or not, politics is everything; therefore, we must do whatever we can to conquer the political landscape in the country. We do not have a people problem; rather, we have a problem with people in politics.

Every year, we in the Diaspora contribute $2 billion to the economy back home. So no need to mention that we already have the economic upper hand we need to give us the political leverage needed to impact the game of politics in the country. If we are structured and organized, then we will be able to endorse and finance the campaigns of candidates (running for the presidency and congress) sharing our political, economic and social agenda. Let us not fool ourselves thinking that the political takeover is not important. Yes, it is extremely important, for the decisions coming from the executive and legislative branches of government will determine the course the country must take going forward.

So as you are putting your thinking cap on to figure out what to give Haiti for Christmas, think of giving her durable, not perishable goods. We have been giving her perishable goods for I do not know how long; nothing concrete and positive has come out of it. So a change of strategy is urgently needed, and that change must pass through the restructuration and organization of the Diaspora to represent an economic and political force to propel the country forward.

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One comment on “WHAT ARE YOU GIVING HAITI FOR CHRISTMAS?

  1. I couldn’t agree more. It’s hard to imagine things getting any worse and all the billions of dollars being pledged doesn’t seem to make much difference.

    As a 1st generationer I’m ready to pick up the hoe and start farming, to get involved and do what I can to help make a difference, and I know I have something to offer, but it’s been a challenge for me to find the right organization(s) to get involved with.

    Frankly I don’t have a lot of trust in some of these non-profit organizations, any more than I feel that the Haitian government can be trusted. I have seen individuals launch organizations whom might have had their hearts in the right place to start with, but let power and greed get in the way of the real focus at hand which is to help the Haitian people. I don’t necessarily want to be involved in an organization where the primary goal is solicitation of funds and then you never know how the money is used. I want to know how the money is going to be used…to make sure it is not going straight into someone else’s pocket, that there aren’t any mysterious “administrative” fees taken out, etc. The accounting and salary discrepancies with Yele are an unfortunate example of this that makes it hard to know which organizations to trust. Regardless of whether Wyclef had anything to do with it, it shows that it’s quite easy for non-profits to be corrupt and I work too hard lol. Then, assuming the appropriate portion of the funding is routed towards doing something positive for Haiti, what assurances do these groups have that it going towards the right causes and won’t lead to instances like supplies being purchased that end up rotting in a warehouse somewhere because there is no distribution system executed on the ground? Therefore I give all donations to the Red Cross and OxFam, not that they don’t have their issues too but I feel they are more trustworthy.

    Michel Martelly made an interesting point…his point (and I paraphrase) was that well-doers should actually keep their money, and instead send engineers and consultants for 3 years, teach the people how to build, design etc. I think that’s a much better plan and would like to get involved in some efforts like that.

    But the organization factors you cite are spot on, there are too many splinters of small organizations doing their own thing and while their efforts may help in small ways there needs to be a more united front.

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