Our beloved Haiti Cheri has sustained another devastating blow in the wake of hurricane Matthew, that tore trough the country with such force that thousands died, plants were uprooted leaving Haitians bereft of food, homes destroyed, leaving families vulnerable to the elements, diseases, and famine.
Perhaps the devastation would not have been so severe had it not been for the fact that the necessary reconstruction from the earthquake 6 years ago has never been completed; and in many cases, never even started.
Haitians are now placed in a precarious situation which could very well mean life or death, if we don't do something to help them, immediately, if not sooner.
As expected, Haiti's well-being is on everyone's mind. It was the topic of discussion at the Mayor of Philadelphia's Commission on Africa and the Caribbean, led by City Council woman Jannie Blackwell; and it was the central focus at the recently held ATAC (Avenging the Ancestors Coalition) as well.
While many offer clothing, that is not what is needed at this time. More to the point, Haiti needs monies to be directly contributed to trusted HAITIAN BASED organizations that will make sure the funds get to where it's most needed.
Because the vegetation was destroyed, and the soil was saturated with salt water, the capacity to plant and grow crops is impossible - at least, according to Ms. Metellus, not for three to four years!!! This means almost certain starvation unless we send non-perishable canned and dry goods to Haiti by the containers...i.e, brown or white rice, barley, bulghur wheat, canned peas, beans, meats, and tuna, fruits, etc - all the varieties in quantities, to be distributed among the families.
I love Haiti - almost expatriated there when I first visited the beautiful country in the early 70s. Papa Doc Duvalier was still president, and you could see his visage in every shop, on every wall. The Tan-tan mecoute was everywhere - tall, handsome, in blue denim uniforms with hats, reminiscent of cowboys, cocked just a little forward and to the side. They were there to maintain order, and prevent invasion - something that Haiti was frequently threatened with by other Caribbean countries who doing the bidding of the US government. During those days, Haiti was it's own boss - and they managed to maintain their sovereignty despite attempts on others to do otherwise.
It's a far cry from the Haiti we're seeing today. A Haiti that appears to be under siege by the forces of nature itself.
But, rather than focus on the lamentations, Haitian brothers and sisters there and in the US - especially in Philadelphia, New York & Florida - are individually and collectively focused on solutions; on rebuilding - on moving forward. By and large, Haitians are accustomed to going their own way alone. They band together and get the job done, whatever it takes. It was this kind of spirit that helped them overthrow the yoke of slavery in 1804; and it's the same spirit that drives them today.
They're unaccustomed to depending on outsiders to help them, and are known for their independence, self reliance, creativity and bravery. It's one of the things that made me fall in love with Haiti and Haitians. Regardless of whether modern technology existed, or not, Haitians always found a way to get things done, feed their families, educate their children. I remember telling a friend of mine in New York, that Haiti was an eye opener for me. It was the first time I had ever witnessed Black people actually working together harmoniously, without arguing, without trying to see who could get over on whom. Haitians are united - they helped each other - whether it was washing clothes, farming, bringing in a harvest, building a building, music, they worked together.
With all the sophistication African Americans claim to have, I've never seen such unity, camaraderie, since I was a kid in Oklahoma. It was then I also realized that Black Americans have no excuse for not progressing - Haitians could come to the US, roll their sleeves up, and get the job done - together; while we would still be arguing over who got there first; who had the highest degree, who we liked or didn't, or some other irrelevant piece of "pecking order" garbage - all to distract us from the goal of getting the job done. And while we're doing that, Haitians would have done the job, done other jobs, bought a home by pooling their resources (susu's), sent their children to school, and are on to the next project.
That said, it must have been most aggravating to have to depend on outside sources for their help, only to find themselves in worse condition than when they first stepped onto their soil.
Now, I'm not casting aspersions on those who made their contributions; or those well meaning individuals who went to Haiti to help. This is a bigger issue than that. Much bigger - and one that I'm not prepared to hash out at this writing. My focus is more on the solutions that must be brought to bear, so that it does not continue to be an issue for our Haitian Brothers and Sisters.
That said, there are some alternatives to Haitians continuing to live in tents and exposed to the elements - solutions that I want to post here in my Blog in hopes that they will be passed on to those Brothers and Sisters who are actively involved in helping Haiti Cheri get back on her feet and stay there.
Continued after the Break:
All-New Echo Dot (2nd Generation) - Black
The subject of shelter was discussed during the ATAC meeting, and Dr. Paul Hopkins mentioned the use of Monolithic Dome Homes as a solution to Haiti's problems going forward. This was in response to questions asked about the stability of the homes that were flattened under the hurricane. The homes that had been constructed subsequent to the earthquake were substandard and insufficient to withstand the force of hurricane Matthew, and people and homes alike were swept away under the pressure of the storm. I queried as to whether the Citadel was still standing. When the speaker announced in the affirmative, I suggested that Haitians needed to build homes like the Citadel, which is now at least 250 years old. She indicated that Haitians needed training in how to build, and that they lacked the appropriate materials and tools for such and undertaking.
It was during this discussion that Dr. Paul Hopkins, a member of an NGO on Health with the UN, mentioned MONOLITHIC DOMES - Dome homes that are so strong they could withstand any disaster, including earthquakes and hurricanes, as a possible solution to the problem. In fact, acceding to Dr. Hopkins, the MONOLITHIC DOMES had been used in other countries after devastating disasters, and have been found to be impervious to fire, earthquake, hurricanes, tornados, etc - didn't say anything about floods, though.
I am always fascinated by alternative living styles, so I of course looked up the information and found that not only was the MONOLITHIC DOME HOME all that and a bag of chips, but that some forward thinking individual had actually tried to construct them in Haiti nearly 3 years ago, but got little to no cooperation. There were accusations of "corruption" - something that has not been sufficiently clarified - who was corrupt? (for more information on Monolithic Dome Homes see the photos and articles below)
The other challenge, arable land for growing food, can be resolved by utilization of hydroponics - an alternative way of growing plants and food without soil. This can be accomplished on both a small individual scale, and on a massive scale to feed entire populations. It mitigates the issue of contamination, and provides a ready resource of food with little to no cost or expense. Training in hydroponics is quite simple, and easily adapted. Donors could send seeds and cuttings to help Haitians get start with growing food. And consolidation of some of the basic crops can be set up so that staples are shared equitably among neighborhoods. Freight Farms has a protocol for large communities; but donors can actually send small scale hydroponic units to Haiti to be distributed to families.
This is the link to Freight Farms:
Hydroponics using "Dutch Buckets"
Hydroponics using small plastic containers
These can be taught and implemented very easily; but plants take time to grow, so that does not mitigate the fact that right now, Haitians need mass quantities of non-perishable food - canned goods such as tuna, soups, mackerel, beef, hash, etc.,(don't forget the powdered milk, rice, beans, greens, fruit, baby food, as well as can openers, eating utensils, plates, etc.; wet wipes, soap, deodorant, tooth paste, lotions, toilet paper, sealed plastic containers to keep food safe from vermin and insects; and other goods, as well)
Which leads, however, to another major hurdle that Haitians face - potable water - water that is not contaminated either with salt, or bacteria - and this is a major challenge that has to be addressed immediately - especially in the face of cholera, or dying of thirst and dehydration. Tankers can be transported to Haiti initially to stave off the availability of drinkable water. However, the construction of desalination plants are a more permanent solution, with salt water filtered through so that it is made available to the people for drinking, bathing and cooking. The tankers are an immediate solution. Identifying who and where is another issue - one that needs to be worked out between Haiti and other interest groups who are looking to help her solve her problems. (Much of this can also be mitigated in the future by the installation of plumbing systems throughout the island).
Water Mission -
Delivering Water to Haiti after Matthew
The Mission of the Water Mission
Water Delivery Using Tankers
Technological knowhow in terms of desalination plants, as well as the manpower to construct such a pump is a pretty tall order - and one that affects other areas as well as Haiti - one that has yet to be adequately addressed and resolved. But one that must be dealt with, nevertheless.
Help Haiti: Save the Water:
Green Diary - 5 Desalinaiton concepts:
Dinotec to build water treatment plant in Haiti
This article appeared in 2014 - it is unknown as to whether the plant was ever constructed, or whether or not it survived Hurricane Matthew.