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Stand with Haiti – Reports from Partners in Health

March 23, 2010

Partners in Health has regular updates on their site about the continued relief efforts in Haiti – as they work to keep Haiti in the news and make sure we remember the long road ahead in terms of recovery and rebuilding.

Check out their site for news stories and coverage:

http://www.standwithhaiti.org/haiti

Here are some recent stories:

Celebrating International Women’s Day (Partners in Health around the World)

Improving Access to Clean Water

Project to expedite Food Production

Debating on how to rebuild Haiti

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AND they have a petition:

Make a pledge to STAND WITH HAITI—Partners In Health is committed to standing with Haiti now and in the months and years to come, in the communities that have long been our home and in the capital city now working to rebuild itself. Haiti’s struggle may fade from the news, but we will never let it fade from our hearts and minds. Join us. The first step is to stand up and be counted – add your voice to this call for support and show your family, friends, and community that you’re dedicated to Haiti’s recovery.

Spread the word. Remember the struggle continues. Let us continue to push for change.

Article in The Bahama Journal – “Make a Difference”

March 9, 2010

Here is a really intriguing editorial about participation in civic society, labor rights, and migration. Not sure who wrote it – I’ve been looking all over The Bahama Journal website – but it has no by-line.  If anyone else finds it – or sees the hard copy – please comment on this and let us know who wrote this.

And share your thoughts!  What do you think about labor in The Bahamas?  What should the government be doing to support Haitians living in The Bahamas and Haitian-Bahamians?  How can we create a better, sustainable, and sensible migration policy?  A policy that is humane and acknowledges shared relations / histories among us and our common needs… A policy that is created in light of the earthquake in Haiti, recognising the continued suffering and long road ahead of re-building and healing…. A policy that embraces and supports our neighbours – our Haitian brothers and sisters…  A policy that encourages exchange and solidarity…

It was refreshing to read this editorial that tackles tough questions, points out the inadequacy / lack of humanity in the existing immigration policy, and calls for more – asking us all to think about change.

While we have already made the point that there are workers like teachers, nurses, firemen, and others such whose contributions are routinely taken for granted, today we repeat our refrain that these workers are the types who keep this place going.

They are not paid enough for all they do. But despite it all, these decent, law-abiding citizen-professionals routinely do what they do best; that is to say, they work in diligent service to the Bahamian people.

Paradoxically, the same kudos can and should go to any number of workers – some of them undocumented – who make their own valued contributions to the orderly growth and development of the Bahamas.

This double-barreled thought came to us this weekend past as we were reminded not only of the amount of challenges nurses face as they go about their work in what are decidedly less than optimal conditions; but also of the fact that a team of some of this nation’s best nurses recently departed for an earthquake-shattered Haiti.

There they are helping the Haitian people as they struggle to cope not only with the impact of the recent earthquake, but also with some other huge challenges, this time around those that are coming with the rainy season – one which portends disaster for the Haitian people.

Here we reference all those diseases like dysentery, cholera, malaria and yellow fever, among others which routinely devastate the lives of the most vulnerable, namely children and their grandparents.

We celebrate and thank those wonderful nurses for the truly remarkable work they are doing in that devastated land.

We are also reminded of the fact that even as Bahamian nurses carry our nation’s flag and do what they have to do – even in Haiti – there are untold numbers of Haitians and so-called Haitian Bahamians who would and could do as much – if not more – to come to the aid of their land, its people and our good neighbour.

This is so – sadly – because very many of these poor people are obliged to live in a kind of twilight; a place where they are always on the look-out for either Immigration or the Police.

It has transpired that a nether world has emerged; a freaky place where people are obliged to treat with criminals in order to conduct transactions that are ordinarily considered routine.

Haitians living and working in the Bahamas are sometimes obliged to exist somehow or the other in a world where brutality and anguish are – quite literally speaking – the order of the day.

In one instance that recently came to our attention, a Haitian woman who works as a maid for a Bahamian family got the news that her mother had died.

To say the least, she was distraught at the news.

But even more distressing was the fact that this mother of four children could not leave the Bahamas to attend her mother’s funeral; this because she knew that she had neither will nor means to attempt another illegal entry into a Bahamas where she now works.

Incidentally, this woman is married; has four children; and that their father [her husband] was deported by Immigration.

This is heart-rending.

See Full Article in The Bahama Journal published 2 March 2010

Report from Port-au-Prince

March 9, 2010

“Port-au-Prince still reeling”
By Juan McCartney ~ Guardian Senior Reporter

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Bahamians who went on an aid mission to Port-au-Prince on Saturday seemed to be in shock at the state of the Haitian capital less than two months after an earthquake ruined most of it.

However, the man The Bahamas sent to represent its interests after the quake, said in his estimation, things are slowly returning to normal.

“The people are getting on with business as usual because they are having to survive. Everyday, they are continuously selling, and business is going on,” said Bahamas Special Envoy to Haiti Clifford Scavella.

“The devastation is very, very apparent and continues to be.”

Devastation is perhaps too soft a word to describe the situation in Port-au-Prince.

Throughout the capital, a cloud of dust and smog hangs over massive tent cities that provide some sort of shelter for hundreds of thousands of homeless and destitute residents since the earthquake leveled the city in January.

Across the street from one such tent city sits the presidential palace, still in ruins.

Along the gates of the immense palace, tourists gawk and take pictures, soaking in the destruction as Haitian vendors hawk their wares on the streets.

Other Haitians, who have nothing to sell, simply beg.

“It’s almost a complete difference,” said Gregory Miller, a young Bahamian who was visiting Haiti for the third time with a contingent from New Covenant Baptist Church.

And though Miller characterized Haiti as “a country of people who are resilient and very ambitious,” he admitted that he hardly recognized the place.

“The Haiti we saw two years ago is not the Haiti that we see here today,” he said. “With the help of others they are trying to clean up and trying to move on and make the way that’s best. They still have a long way to go. They are God’s children and so are we.”

See complete article in The Nassau Guardian published 8 March 2010

Forum in Nassau TONIGHT hosted by The Lambi Coalition

March 4, 2010

Forum hosted by The Lambi Coalition – entitled “What Does Haitian-Bahamian Solidarity Mean to You?” – TONIGHT in Nassau — will begin at 6.30pm at the Orion Academy on East Street, next to the Metropolitan Church of the Nazarene. Please help spread the word and attend!!!

Article Published in The Tribune yesterday about the group and the forum:

A NEW association is set to hold a Haitian/Bahamian solidarity forum in Nassau tomorrow.

The Lambi Coalition, established by several human rights groups and political activists, has invited a number of speakers including Erin Greene, Betty Godet, Mark Desmangles and Jah Blyden, to address the meeting. The forum, entitled “What Does Haitian-Bahamian Solidarity Mean to You?” will begin at 6.30pm at the Orion Academy on East Street, next to the Metropolitan Church of the Nazarene.

Formed in the wake of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti on January 12, the Lambi Coalition was created to be an African-led effort to build and nurture Haitian-Bahamian solidarity. “Lambi” is the Creole word for “Conch” and has been chosen given the conch shells’ long-standing association with the idea of resistance for Africans.

A statement issued by the group explained that in 1791, when a group of enslaved Africans in what is now Haiti launched their struggle for freedom, they blew into the conch shell to rally other Africans to the movement. In other parts of the world, the conch shell has been used similarly by enslaved Africans.

In the short-term, the organisation seeks to play a role in providing relief for the earthquake victims. Toward this end, Lambi is working along with other organisations to hold a benefit concert. Canned goods, which will be collected at the gate instead of money, will be delivered to reputable grass-roots organisations in Haiti, the statement said.

Lambi’s long-term projects include working to bridge the gap between the Creole and Anglophone communities in the Bahamas by facilitating dialogue between these two groups. In addition, it wants to work within the Creole community to raise awareness of Bahamian immigration regulations and human rights norms; combat anti-Haitian prejudices in the community, and push for enhanced customer service and policy reform at the Department of Immigration – including automatic Bahamian citizenship for children born in the Bahamas. “Lambi will also work to educate the wider community about the current political situation in Haiti and will establish ties with grass-roots organisations in Haiti who are working to restore democracy there,” the statement said.

Via The Tribune 03 March 2010

Nassau Guardian reports on status of Haitian Migrants

March 2, 2010

“Only 11 of 102 released Haitians have reported to Immigration so far” By Keva Lightbourne ~ Guardian Senior Reporter:

Eleven of the 102 Haitian immigrants who were released from the Carmichael Road Detention Centre last month and given temporary status have reported to the Department of Immigration so far, Immigration Director Jack Thompson disclosed yesterday.

Thompson confirmed that all 11 of them live in various communities throughout New Providence.

The decision to release the migrants from the Detention Center was made by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham following the January 12, 7.0 earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, destroying businesses and buildings, killing hundreds of thousands of people and leaving millions more homeless.

Yesterday Thompson said he did not think that only the 11 people would follow the directives given to them upon their release in January.

When they were released they were told to report back to the department this month.

“I don’t think that is going to be all. I think more are going to come, but so far on the first of March that is the number we have,” Thompson reported.

So far, he said none of the persons released reported to the Immigration Department in Freeport.

See full article in The Nassau Guardian

Floods in Haiti

March 2, 2010

The rainy season approaches in Haiti – and rains have come even earlier than expected in the city of Les Cayes (in the southeast of Haiti) – which was not directly affected by the earthquake, but its population grew after as survivors relocated across Haiti.

At least eight people have been killed in floods triggered by heavy rain in Haiti, officials have said.

The deaths occurred in or near the southeastern port city of Les Cayes which was swamped by more than 1.5m (5ft) of water.

Officials said buildings affected included a hospital and a prison where more than 400 inmates were evacuated.

About a million Haitians are still homeless following January’s earthquake which killed up to 230,000 people.

The floods have come several weeks ahead of Haiti’s traditional rainy season.

“The situation is grave… whole areas are completely flooded. People have climbed on to the roofs of their homes,” local senator Francky Exius told AFP news agency.

See complete article BBC Caribbean 28 Feb 2010

Several doctors, nurses sent to Haiti

March 1, 2010

Several doctors, nurses sent to Haiti

“Three doctors and four nurses from the public and private sector left the capital on Saturday for Haiti, said Minister of Health Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday.

“CARICOM (Caribbean community) has requested the rotation system and we have sent 3 doctors and 4 nursing personnel. Within that team, individuals can also speak Creole and they would be there at least 10 days,” Minnis told The Nassau Guardian yesterday. “