Many questions and accusations have arisen regarding the millions of dollars of donations that poured into Haiti in the year since the January 12, 2010 earthquake. Unfortunately, we hear a ton of negative stories and facts, and few of the positive. Let me try to explain the current state of donations regarding Haiti.
The rebuilt Gentille Hirondelle school, where I'll be volunteering. It was rebuilt after the quake but there's no money left to roof it. I am fundraising so we can build a roof and call it another success.
1. First of all, donors pledged a total $5.57 billion (Los Angeles Times); most of these donations never materialized; they never actually were donated to Haiti.
2. Second, millions of dollars of donations went to keeping people alive immediately after the earthquake. Thousands of dollars were spent on medical supplies, medical care, food, purified water, and temporary shelters. These funds were used to prevent more deaths. In general, this was a success due to the huge outpouring of support both in terms of donations and volunteers. According to the Los Angeles Times in a Jan 12, 2011 article, this saved thousands of lives.
3. Third, things happen slowly in Haiti and it may be too early to call the rebuilding effort a failure. Haiti has a non-functioning government, and this was the case even before the earthquake. Few government agencies exist, and those that do are underfunded. Even before the earthquake, things were chaotic and infrastructure was, and still is, poor.
4. Fourth, many countries have held off in sending their financial support until the Haitian government is stable and effective. Haiti has been searching for political stability ever since they first started having elections in the early 1990’s once the dictator Baby Doc (Jean-Claude Duvalier) was overthrown. Elections this past November were deemed fair by observers, but many people did not have the opportunity to vote die to ID cards being lost in the quake aftermath.
5. Fifth, Haiti has a Cholera epidemic that has sickened 150,000 people and killed 4,000 (UNICEF). This strain of Cholera never existed in Haiti and was most likely brought to Haiti by UN peacekeepers.
Let’s look at the positive and see what the donations have done:
1. Prior to the earthquake, about 50% of the country did not have running water and sewage. Although thousands are still living in tent encampments, more people in Haiti have access to these two services than ever before.
2. About half of the tent population, approximately 800,000 people, has been able to move out of the tent camps into permanent housing.
3. The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund worked with partner organizations to create education and skills development centers throughout Haiti where more than 5,300 Haitian youth will receive vocational training in construction and learn leadership skills
4. The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund is working with Root Capital to make small micro credit loans for Haitian to start small businesses
5. UNICEF has provided psychological and social counseling to 100,000 children
6. 2 million children and young adults have been immunized
7. Finn Church Aid, working with the Lutheran World Federation, has established 240 temporary and semi-permanent classrooms at 50 schools since the earthquake, with extra assistance from Norwegian Church Aid.
8. The organization Hope for Haiti trained 24 health care workers
9. A Korean company called CHF created 28,000 garment industry jobs, according to CNN
10. The NGO Save the Children trained 2,300 Haitian teachers in disaster risk reduction and distributed school kits to 38,500 children. Save the Children has supported more than 270 schools, enabling more than 45,000 children to return to their studies.
This is just a small sampling of the many many positive things that have been accomplished in Haiti since the earthquake. It’s easier to look at the negatives and criticize, but Haiti also has hundreds of examples of success stories since the quake. With your help we will add the rebuilding of Gentille Hirondelle school to the list!