A report on the ground in Haiti from Carlos Miranda Levy, a colleague, Reuters Digital Vision Fellow alum and friend. Carlos starting doing what he does best – providing help, his intellect, resources and aid to the people of Haiti.
Haiti does not need soldiers. What Haiti needs from the world is a genuine desire to help and work hand in hand with its people. As long as outside assistance continue to come with an attitude of arrogance and superiority, we will continue to perpetuate an us versus them divide where we know better and the Haitian people are viewed as helpless and incapable of rebuilding their own country.
Haiti is a deserving nation full of capable people and community organizations. We should be working with them to rebuild the country from within and from the bottom up, not from the outside and from top down.
At a meeting of volunteers exploring the risks of resource allocation amidst reports of violence and the various alternatives for action, Jon Katz, a person with decades’ long track record working effectively in remote communities, remained silent during the course of the discussion and then offered these remarks:
“What we should do is first go where people are and convene a meeting with them. Ask them what they want and have them be participants in the transportation, receipt and distribution of aid. Let them coordinate the aid and distribution. Have them provide security themselves and you will find that security will cease to be an issue, since the people have assumed responsibility for their own security. ”
The Yele Foundation representative provided these related remarks:
“Treat people with dignity. If you treat people like animals in need, there will always be some who behave like animals and the rest will be left out. But if you treat them with dignity, they will behave with dignity. We have throughout Haiti, community organizations capable of doing the field work and going the extra mile needed to be effective. ”
If houses are going to be built, they should be constructed by the collaborative efforts of the Haitian community, by involving Haitian students in engineering and architecture, not by bringing in foreign military engineers and contractors. It is important to bring the reconstruction process inside the community to strengthen the community and spur sustainable development.
If it’s for the community, we work with the community.
In this way we build capacity and possibly, this group of students can then create their own office of engineers and architects and do similar projects on their own, generating wealth, employment and progress.
Carlos is a social entrepreneur and Digital Vision Fellow at Stanford University, sponsored by Google and Reuters. Considered by CNN one of Latin America’s 20 most influential people on the Internet. Founder of CIVILA.com, Educar.org and BibliotecasVirtuales.com.