On January 12, a powerful earthquake struck Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, near the capital city. It is predicted that over half a million people were killed or injured. Learn more about what has happened since the earthquake by reading:
On the Ground in Haiti: Hell and Hope
Donations Pour In, Aid Slow to Reach Victims Through Main Airport Controlled by U.S. Military
Haiti Timeline: A History of Foreign Occupation
Haiti at a Glance


On the Ground in Haiti: Hell and Hope

 

Remains of a secondary school in the Martissant area of Port-au-Prince PHOTO: Phuong Tran/IRIN

Remains of a secondary school in the Martissant area of Port-au-Prince. Photo: Phuong Tran/IRIN

By BILL QUIGLEY
[Excerpts from an article at The Indypendent website]
February 4, 2010

Everywhere are sheet shelters. In parks, soccer fields, in the parking lot of the TV station, tens of thousands literally in the streets and on sidewalks.

Thousands of people standing in the hot sun waiting their turn. Outside the hospital are clinics, money transfer companies, immigration offices and the very few places offering water or food.

Hope is found in the people of Haiti. Despite having no electricity, little shelter, minimal food, and no real government or order, people are helping one another survive.

Men and boys are scavenging useful items from the mounds of fallen buildings. Women are selling mangoes and nuts on the street. Teens are playing with babies.

Everyone needs tents and food and medical care and water, but when you talk to people, most will lead you to an ailing great-grandma or the malnourished child—someone weaker, in even direr need of help.

What should outsiders do, I asked Lavarice Gaudin? Lavarice, who helps the St. Clare’s community feed thousands each day through their What if Foundation said, “Help the most poor first. Some who labored their whole lives to make a one-bedroom home will likely never have a home again. Haiti needs everything. But we need it with a plan. Pressure the Haitian government; pressure USAID to help the poorest.”

International volunteers who work hand-in-hand with Haitians are welcomed. Others, not so much.

Lavarice saw the Associated Press story that reported only one penny of every U.S. aid dollar will go directly in cash to needy Haitians. “I can understand that they distrust the government,” she said, “But why not distribute aid through the churches and good community organizations?”

And: “We hope this will help us develop strong leadership that listens and responds to the people.”

And: “No matter what, we will never give up. Haitians are strong, hopeful people. We will rebuild.”

Bill Quigley is Legal Director for the Center for Constitutional Rights and a long-time Haiti human rights advocate. This article originally appeared on  The Smirking Chimp.


Donations Pour In, Aid Slow to Reach Victims Through Main Airport Controlled by U.S. Military

By AMANDA VENDER

Milo Pierre: "We are waiting for some aid, but have not been able to find any help." PHOTO: Phuong Tran/IRIN

Milo Pierre: “We are waiting for some aid, but have not been able to find any help.” Photo: Phuong Tran/IRIN

Three weeks after the earthquake, the Haitian government stated that over 200,000 people had died and another 300,000 people were treated for injuries.  The Haitian people remain in need of food, water, shelter and medical care. While governments and individuals around the world are giving, the main problem is getting supplies to the people.

The U.S. military has sent in 15,000 troops, but many organizations and governments say they have hurt, not helped, delivery of aid to people in need.

Days after the quake, Doctors Without Borders say they tried to bring in 85 tons of medical and relief supplies, but their plane was turned away at the main airport, which is under U.S. military control. “We have had five patients in Martissant health center die for lack of the medical supplies that this plane was carrying,” said Loris de Filippi, emergency coordinator for the Doctors Without Borders Choscal Hospital in Cite Soleil.

A French minister, Alain Joyandet, launched a complaint saying the United States’ role should be about “helping Haiti, not occupying Haiti.” Occupation is when one country controls another country by military force.

Haiti Timeline: A History of Foreign Occupation

For hundreds of years, other countries have tried to control Haiti. Many people blame these other countries, that have exploited the land and people, for Haiti’s high poverty rate. Over 80 percent of the people live on less than $2 a day.

Toussaint L'Ouverture, a former slave, was one of the leaders of the Haitian Revolution. Photo: Organization of American States Children's Corner

Toussaint L’Ouverture, a former slave, was one of the leaders of the Haitian Revolution. Photo: Organization of American States Children’s Corner

Before 1492 A thriving population of native Arawak people farm and live on the land
1492 Christopher Columbus claims the island of Hispaniola for Spain
1697 Spain gives up the western part of Hispaniola to France in a treaty
1700s The French colony becomes very wealthy using slaves to produce crops such as sugar, rum, tobacco and cotton
1791-1804 The Haitian Revolution. The slaves win, kicking out the French and ending slavery.  Haiti becomes the world’s first independent Black republic.
1915 The United States Marines invade Haiti and occupy it to protect U.S. property and businesses. Haitians fight against U.S. occupation
1934 U.S. occupation ends
1957-1986 Francois Duvalier (“Papa Doc”) and then his son, Jean-Claude Duvalier (“Baby Doc”), rule over Haiti as dictators, with support from the U.S. government
1970s-1980s Haiti’s economy shifts from agriculture (farmwork) to low-level industry (low-paid factory work), such as making shoes and baseballs.  85% of the profits go to U.S. businesses.
1990 Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide, known for his support of the poor, is elected president
1991 With U.S. government support, the Haitian military forces Aristide out of power
1994 The U.S. military occupies Haiti and returns Aristide to power
1995 Rene Préval is elected president
2000 Aristide is once again elected president
2004 Aristide is forced out of power.  Aristide says he was forced out by the U.S. government that flew him to the Central African Republic.
2010 Following the earthquake, the U.S. sends in over 15,000 military troops

A student in Jacmel, Haiti, where the earthquake destroyed nearly 200 schools. Photo: Phuong Tran/IRIN

A student in Jacmel, Haiti, where the earthquake destroyed nearly 200 schools. Photo: Phuong Tran/IRIN


Haiti Resources for Teachers from Teaching for Change