The following is from Mathaba.
Rebuilding Haiti: How African-Americans Can Get Involved
Dr. Ron Daniels
``With the sustained engagement of people of African descent in the U.S., our courageous and resilient sisters and brothers in Haiti are destined to finish the unfinished Revolution``
The earthquake which devastated Haiti January 12th was a horrendous event, but as I have said before, nothing will stop the Haitian people from rising above this catastrophe to rebuild Haiti. Such is the resiliency and resolve of the people who defied the odds to create the first Black Republic in this hemisphere. If nothing else, the various media
On the contrary, despite their intense rivalries with each other America and the nations of Europe agreed on one thing, Haiti must be isolated, marginalized and impoverished at all cost. Rather than be viewed as a symbol of Black success and pride, Haiti must be seen as a failure - “the poorest nation in the western hemisphere.” Since the inception of the Revolution, the policies adopted by America and much of Europe have been calculated to create this reality. As a result, the Haiti Revolution is really an unfinished Revolution.
As I have suggested in previous articles, as horrific and painful as it is, the disaster in Haiti offers an unprecedented opportunity for people of African descent in the U.S. and the world to build bridges of solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Haiti as we collectively engage in what will be a signature Pan African Project, the rebuilding and resurrection of the first Black Republic. On the public policy side, I have already suggested that a Global Marshall plan, devoid of the neo-liberal policy prescriptions which have failed in the past, will be required to rebuild Haiti. Moreover, it is critically important that the sovereignty of Haiti be respected and protected. All U.S. troops should be withdrawn as soon as possible so that the Government of Haiti can take firm control of security, utilizing U.N. MINISTAH forces as it deems appropriate. Our task as people of African descent is to monitor the policies of the U.S. and the international community to ensure that the reconstruction effort does not become a pretext for reducing Haiti to a dependent territory.
Beyond the crucial public policy considerations, people of African descent can be involved in a range of private sector initiatives to partner with our Haitian sisters and brothers to create the new Haiti. As the premier organization “Building a Constituency for Haiti in the U.S.” among African Americans, the Haiti Support Project (HSP) of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) is dedicated to leading the way in this vital effort. We have already established the HSP Haiti Relief Fund to provide assistance to community based/grassroots organizations, agencies and faith-based institutions in Haiti that are not likely to receive assistance from the large scale, traditional humanitarian aid agencies. This Fund has become a primary vehicle for African Americans and people of African descent to channel contributions to Haiti with the assurance that 100% of the monies will go directly to meeting the needs of the people.
In addition to the Haiti Relief Fund, however, HSP has developed several initiatives and projects which provide avenues for African Americans and people of African descent to become involved in the historic mission of rebuilding Haiti:
• On the recommendation of HSP’s Goodwill Ambassador Omarosa Stallworth, in conjunction with the Haiti Relief Fund, we are launching the Nehemiah Initiative to enable faith leaders and churches to play a major in the reconstruction process by targeting large donations to rebuilding colleges/universities, schools, hospitals and health clinics and creating and/or investing in micro-credit lending programs. The Nehemiah Initiative will also have the option of building model social, educational and economic institutions which are consistent with the reconstruction plan developed by the Government.
• Deeply concerned about Haitian children being taken out of their homeland, IBW’s Black Family Summit (BFS) has embraced the concept of the Oasis Institute as developed by Destination Haiti Foundation in Haiti, under the leadership of Lionel Pressoir. This concept calls for children who have been orphaned by the earthquake to have a safe/secure and nurturing environment and receive a quality education to prepare them to become contributors and leaders in the new Haiti. Under this model, people of African descent can essentially become surrogate guardians by identifying and supporting children of the Institute. Guardians will be able to visit the children in Haiti and receive them in their homes in the U.S. during holidays and the summer when school is in recess. The emphasis is on strengthening the children in Haiti with adoption being an option of last resort. However, working with Black adoption agencies, IBW/BFS will also explore ways to assist Haitian Americans and other people of African descent to adopt children when appropriate.
• Most of Haiti’s colleges/universities in the Port Au Prince area have been severely damaged or destroyed. Therefore, persuading colleges/universities in the U.S. to accept Haitian students on an interim basis is a major priority. Working in collaboration with Destination Haiti Foundation, HSP’s Goodwill Ambassador has already secured an agreement from Carver Bible College in Atlanta to accept 15 students. Dr. Julianne Malveaux, President of Bennett College for Women, has also expressed an interest in accepting students from Haiti.
• HSP continues to receive inquiries from people eager to volunteer their services in Haiti. To accommodate these requests, we are establishing a process where prospective volunteers will be grouped by experience, skill and interest and matched with appropriate needs in Haiti. HSP supports Rise Again Haiti (RAH), an ambitious Initiative founded by Adal Regis, a student at State University of New York at Stony Brook, which seeks to mobilize thousands of youth/young volunteers to work on projects in Haiti.
• The reconstruction of Haiti will require tremendous amounts of private capital, creating huge opportunities to invest and/or create businesses. Two thirds of the country has not been damaged and the Government is pressing the international community to continue funding projects that were dramatically improving the climate for business and investment prior to the earthquake. HSP and Destination Haiti Foundation are partnering to establish the Haiti Investment Group (HIG) to facilitate investment and creation of businesses by African Americans and people of African descent in the new Haiti. Black investment dollars can help to make the new Haiti a beacon of economic empowerment.
• HSP believes that cultural-historical tourism will be one of the driving engines of development as Haiti rebuilds. Prior to the earthquake, we were exploring the feasibility of a Haitian Heritage Cruise in October to take some 300 people to visit the magnificent Citadel. Far from being deterred by the disaster, Patrick Delatour, Minister of Tourism and National Reconstruction, is encouraging HSP to continue this project. But, now we are exploring a more ambitious idea, A Pilgrimage of Hope: A Cruise for Conscious People Committed to Rebuild Haiti. While a one day visit with 300 participants remains an option, the more exciting goal is to charter an entire cruise ship for 2,000 – 3,000 people for a 4 or 7 day cruise to bring contributions of school and medical supplies, engage in community service projects like planting trees for reforestation and visiting the Citadel and other important cultural historical sites. With a stellar line-up of notable leaders, entertainers, artists and celebrities, the cruise would also include on-ship cultural-educational seminars and performances, seminars on humanitarian and developmental assistance and business and investment opportunities. The cruise would also inject much needed cash into the economy while promoting cultural-historical tourism.
These are some of the avenues which HSP is providing for African Americans and people of African descent to become involved in rebuilding Haiti. To galvanize support for these and other initiatives, IBW/HSP is planning a national/international conference – Envisioning the New Haiti: Engaging African Americans and People of African Descent. Tentatively scheduled for May 14-15 on the eve of Haitian Flag Day (May 18th) and the birthday of Malcolm X (May 19th), the conference will be held at York College, City University of New York, where I serve as a Distinguished Lecturer. With the sustained engagement of people of African descent in the U.S., our courageous and resilient sisters and brothers in Haiti are destined to finish the unfinished Revolution. With our concerted effort and support, the first Black Republic will rise to take its proper place in the sun as a symbol of power, freedom and hope for people of African descent and oppressed people everywhere. The Haiti Support Project of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century invites you to join in this historic endeavor!
Note: Individuals and organizations interested in contributing to the relief, recovery and reconstruction effort in Haiti, including investing in the future of the country, should review the Haiti Support Project’s Haiti Relief Fund Initiatives at www.ibw21.org or call 718.429.1415.
-- Dr. Ron Daniels is President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Distinguished Lecturer at York College City University of New York. His articles and essays also appear on the IBW website www.ibw21.org and www.northstarnews.com. To send a message, arrange media interviews or speaking engagements, Dr. Daniels can be reached via email at: # firstname.lastname@example.org http://ibw21.org