Voiceless in Haiti

Who should play the leading role in rebuilding Haiti? Why Haitians, of course, and yet few development organizations appear to be seeking local expertise. In "Voiceless in Haiti," Brian J. Stevens, a former reporter for the Haitian Times, provides distressing examples of the trend toward neglecting Haitian voices, even those with a proven record of identifying and solving local problems. Stevens writes:

For decades non-governmental organizations, driven by international community aid dollars, have employed development paradigms largely devoid of the voice of the Haitian people. From the Creole pig debacle of the 1980s (scroll to minute 4:40 of Dr. Paul Farmer's account) to today’s discussion of how to house the newly homeless masses, Haitian perspectives appear absent. This is unfortunate, not just because it undermines the dignity of the Haitian people, but also because the wisdom of lived experience—a wisdom that has enabled Haitians to survive for decades in conditions that would surely kill most others, a wisdom that could help rebuild Haiti—is ignored. While the almost incalculable devastation requires an immediate response, in some cases the best of intentions can have serious long-term negative consequences for Haitians.

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Tim Reidy


Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Beth Cioffoletti
8 years ago
I know that it will never happen, but I would love to see Jean Bertrand Aristide allowed to return to Haiti.  The vast majority of Haitians (the poor ones) still love him, and Aristide obviously loves Haiti.  He says that he does not wish to enter politics, but rather to teach.  His book, "Eyes of the Heart; Seeking a Path for the Poor in and Age of Globalization", shows much insight into the ways that free-trade don't work in Haiti.  I am intrigued by his ideas for establishing "decent poverty" in Haiti.  Of course, his critics will call that socialism.

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