By Jean H Charles
The Republic of Haiti might have per square miles the largest number of international organizations operating into the country. Yet the economic and the social impact of their contribution are so minute that I am crying loud and clear: give me the Amish, the Quakers and the Mennonite any time!
President Clinton sent to Haiti by UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon to coordinate the resources of the foreign assistance to Haiti will do well in his mission if he ask Governor Edward Rendell of Pennsylvania to facilitate the sending to Haiti of a contingent of Amish, Quakers and Mennonite to help not only in God made disaster recovery but also in man-made disaster due through the bad governance of the last fifty years.
From my vantage point of observation, I can see the aid assistance in Haiti is competing with the government to keep the masses in bondage equal to or similar of a de-facto apartheid system. They are both living a good life at the expense of the people they are called to serve. In fact if you are eager to enjoy the sun, the sand, and the spice of life, do come to Haiti with your aid agency and pretend that you are serving the Haitian people!
From the biggest organization the MINUSTHA to the smallest one, the plethora of aid workers in their air conditioned 4/4 all terrain with shaded windows, run around, insensitive to the misery of the ordinary Haitian person. Coming back from my daily exercise in the Carenage section of Cape Haitian, I see the long line of residents waiting to get a portion of the 300 liters of portable drinking water given by the Nepal Contingent of MINUSTHA. The City of Cape Haitian (500.000 people) has been without running water for the last twenty years. I have seen lately a group of young men and women employed by MINUSTHA to clean the sewers filled with the black clog of petrifaction. Getting a job in Haiti is a mane from the sky; yet the job requires the utilization of a basin truck, that MINUSTHA can obtain just by the asking.
I am observing in Haiti, people left to fend on their own, to survive with no benefits of public health, good roads, excellent hospitals or any small amenities that make life bearable. I believe only the Quakers, the Amish and the Mennonite can help bring a difference in Haiti. Starting with the Quakers, they were the first advocates who felt outraged of the slavery condition in the United States.
They did endured persecution, death (John Brown) and ostracism to create the underground tunnel so thousand of black people could escape the South to enjoy freedom in the North and in Canada. Haiti needs some Quakers to stir things up so hospitality for all could become the norm not the exception. A contingent of Quakers established in each small town will teach the people how to treat the water system so it can become drinkable. They will teach how to farm and market their produce for a better return. One or two retired families in each town will do the trick.
I have grown up living with the Mennonite in my home town of Grand River City. They were in charge of the municipal hospital. Their involvement extended into literacy, family planning, animal husbandry, environmental protection and all the other amenities such as a public library that make Grand River, twenty years after their departure a small heaven in the northern part of Haiti. We do need their culture of caring in the midst of so much national and international indifference towards those in need.
Last but not least the Amish have developed a cottage industry in agriculture, carpentry, artwork, animal husbandry that their model could serve Haiti well. Their culture of thrift industry, suspicion about modern convenience, excellent handyman is close to or similar to the Haitian culture. Haiti as a whole is Amish country as well as Provence, France. It has people eager to produce with their hands furniture that the artisans of the Middle Age have crafted for their lords and their kings. These three groups will produce a culture of service to replace the culture of arrogance prone by most of the existing aid organizations.
Haiti needs a balanced leadership to create a sense of solidarity towards each other; I am leading towards the idea of securing a mandate from the people (coming 2011) to do just that!