Voices of Haiti

Five years after a devastating earthquake hit Haiti’s capital and nearby towns on January 12, 2010, killing up to 230,000 people, the country continues to rebuild and the Haitian people show signs of resilience despite the current political uncertainty. Almost everyone has a story to tell.
“No matter who you talk to these days in Haiti –the village doctor, the small entrepreneur in Port-au-Prince, the young university student--- their wish is to move forward”, said World Bank Special Envoy for Haiti Mary Barton-Dock. “And moving forward means to continue to have better access to health and education, and a future with greater opportunities for everyone”, she added.
Message Mary Barton-Dock


Five Haitians share their stories. Watch how they see their country changing:
"The only place I feel good is here in Haiti"

The earthquake destroyed her house. Criminals shot her husband in front of her. From the lack of electricity to the lack of security, she faces challenges every day. Nevertheless, Sharline DuBuisson couldn't imagine living anywhere else than in Haiti. "I have relatives abroad. They always ask me 'What are you still doing here? Why are you staying?'", she says. "But the only place I feel good is when I am here in Haiti."
15 years ago, she started an internet cafe. Now, she owns a small money transfer business and sells cellphones. And her business is growing, she says proudly. She employs over 20 people.
This is no small feat in Haiti, where unemployment aff­ects 40% of the urban workforce and nearly 50% of the female workforce.  Many emigrate in search for better source of revenues. Over one million Haitians live abroad. 
The share of households receiving private transfers in Haiti rose from 42 to 69 percent between 2001 and 2012. Worker transfers from abroad have represented more than a fifth of Haiti’s GDP in recent years, mainly coming from the Dominican Republic and the United States. ​
 "There are lots of opportunities here," says Sharline, confidently. 
Voices of Haiti - Sharline

 “My dream is to have a hospital” 

The day after the earthquake, Germanite Phanord was sent to Port au Prince for two and a half months to help the injured. “It was catastrophic,” the doctor, trained in Cuba and Spain, remembers.
After the earthquake, she opened a small clinic in the province town Hinche, in the center of Haiti, with the help of an NGO. She says she opened it because there was a need from the population in matters of health services. One day, she thought “If I drive to Port au Prince and I have an accident on the way, wow, I’d probably die.” Her dream is to have a hospital that can take care of any patient, regardless of the situation the person is in.
This is particularly important in Haiti where 40% of the population lacks access to health services. 80% of the poorest Haitians live in the countryside, where access to water, sanitation and health services is limited. And education has an effect on health: 34% of children whose mothers have no education are stunted, compared to 12% of children whose mothers have secondary or higher education.
Voices of Haiti - Germanite

“What we need to do is never give up, always explain about good construction” 

“All the tents throughout the streets.” That is the image that Wisler Dyrogène has in mind when he remembers the aftermath of the earthquake. As an engineer, he knows about housing.
He was part of the team of 400 Haitian engineers that assessed the safety and structural damages of over 420,000 buildings in Haiti’s to protect from further death or injuries caused by unsafe buildings, and encourage people to move back if their house or businesses were safe. Each building was tagged “green for safe”, “Yellow for partial danger” and “red for danger”. In addition, the database and GPS maps created allowed to inform, quantify and monitor the rehabilitation of neighborhood, and the data is open access.
The Ministry of Public Works, Transportation and Communications has also conducted trainings for 12,000 people – from workers to architects.  With the help of a bus equipped for film projections and presentations, the Ministry often goes to the construction sites to do the instruction. “The situation is changing, but timidly,” says Dyrogène.
Building safely and earthquake proof is extremely important in Haiti: more than 96% of its population is at risk of exposure to two or more hazards.
Voices of Haiti - Wisler

“So that the youth can have their say in development in Haiti” 

Anne-Martine’s relatives thought she was dead - her faculty was destroyed during the earthquake. She was supposed to be at the university at the time the earthquake hit Haiti’s capital. But, by a stroke of luck, her teacher had let them go off early that day.
Now on the brink of graduating with an engineering degree, she is interning at a company, where she is receiving technical and managerial training. Anne-Martine’s wish for Haiti is that there is a policy that engages youth in the development of their country.
Driven by her passion of learning, she co-founded an organization, ACTIVEH, that helps Haitian students find internships in local communities. “They develop discipline, they learn to interact with people and be more responsible,” says Anne-Martine. All skills that will be of use when they start looking for a job.
This is crucial in Haiti, where 60% of youth are unemployed and only 60% of people of working age are active. While school participation rates have risen for 6-to-14-years-old, about 62% of children are in a grade too low for their age.
Voices of Haiti - Anne-Martine

 Using the pen to ease the pain 

Jean-Euphèle Milcé, a Haitian writer, almost felt like a traitor when the earthquake struck. His house, up in the mountains, was not destroyed. But the next day, he said, he was counting his friends who had disappeared.
“Literature is nourished by pain”, he explains. Many books were written after the disastrous event. One reason, says Milcé, is that “people lived through it. They carried pain.” A second reason is that there was a high demand by the publishing houses, interested in books about Haiti and the earthquake.
Milcé himself, after the earthquake, decided to open a literature center “Pen Club”, open to local and international writers, with a library where writers, intellectuals and youth can gather. Youth from the neighborhood have writing workshops and then read their text aloud to others.
“I think the writers, even the youngest, are aware that they have some sort of responsibility, because it is the people of the word who have the power of convincing.” says Milcé.
His wish is to make literature “useful”. He also wrote some guides on risk awareness for citizens.
Voices of Haiti - Jean-Euphèle


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