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Frantz Mehu - Jacksonville, Florida
I am Haitian and currently serving in the U.S. Navy. Well, I have been living in the U.S. for 5 years and during these 5 years; I have frequently traveled to Haiti. I am growing up experiencing and living still Haiti's primitive way of life. As Jean-Claude Duvalier's regime was ousted in 1986, I was 14 years old. I did not have any political experience but I can remember how things were at that time just as much as I can now for my age. Life in Haiti had nothing at all to criticize at that time compared to the awful inhuman, and desperate situation that this nation has been living daily since the complete destruction of what Duvalier left. Before 1990, Haiti had some of its infrastructure left and Haitians were still proud to live, only to be quickly and completely destroyed. Which made this part of the Island a desert.
Therefore, I have two questions for the United States, which is not even 500 miles off the northern coast of Haiti. Why, as a great and powerful nation capable of doing anything, does it allow the Haitian government to destroy, enslave, and zombify a nation through corruption and pocketing the country's money? Why does the United States never sincerely decide to help Haiti by imposing the government to do what is essential for this nation? You can do it, if you are willing to. Oh yeah, a government has just been ousted because the United States wanted it to happen and then that was it. So why not continue helping in other ways?
The United Nations has a major part to play in Haiti's 15 terrible years of unsteady political experiences. Why is Haiti as a member of this union -- with its people left mourning for international assistance -- suffering from hunger, killing each other, living in the most tragic situation that could exist?
It is a nation without education, food, potable water, electricity, hope,
health, infrastructure, which are the daily needs of living.
Haiti has nothing at all. It is sad.
Armand Midelson - Pétion-Ville,
I'm very happy about the wonderful report Shoshana has done
in Haiti. We expected feedback but nobody has contacted
us yet. Once again, thank you for your input.
Matt Salomon - Gering, Nebraska
It amazes me how primitive and chaotic the water situation
is in Haiti. It angers me that we are forced to pour so
much money into Iraq when our nearby neighbors need just
a small amount to have normal lives. Not only would it help
the people of Haiti, but it would also reduce the waves
of illegal immigrants the U.S. must deal with each year.
A small investment of foreign aid would produce a great
Maureen Sandles - Flower Mound,
Thank you so much for your article on Haiti. I wish the
media would do more coverage on Haiti and the devastation
that its people endure so that others would be more aware
of what is going on there.
Anne Acco - Montreal, Quebec, Canada
The water molecule is a precious gift. Haiti has to grow trees and bushes mixed with fleshy plants on its hillsides. Nothing should stop the work. Water has to be a universal guide to our well being ---- a human right as an accessible commodity. America is not a leader here. But Americans can learn how water works in their lives. I hate to think we have become so right wing and greedy that we start threatening the whole planet in a plundering manner. Someday we may have stacks of money in bank vaults but we will not be able to buy the things that keep us alive. We can no longer take anything for granted.
Richard Lubke - Flowermound, Texas
Thank you for the story on Haiti. We as a country and individuals
need to do more for people that cannot do for themselves.
They are a good people that with a little help can become
Anonymous - Lewisville, Texas
A number of people have written to us asking how they can help with
the situation in Haiti. While FRONTLINE/World does not have relationships with particular humanitarian relief organizations and cannot vouch for them specifically, we'd like to answer your question. We suggest that you
explore the following organizations, recommended by individuals on the ground in Haiti:
Worldwide, an organization which responds to humanitarian
emergencies in Haiti - including the water crisis.
Sante, an organization devoted to building a sustainable
heath care system in the Cap-Haitien community.
Or you can reach the Association Development Community
Pernier (ADCP), which is working to restore a water system
in Pernier, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sincere thanks goes to you for bringing attention to the tragic
conditions in Haiti. I have witnessed first hand the many
blessings and obstacles that this forgotten country faces
day after day. While their situation is undeniably desperate,
their hearts are hopeful despite having no relevant knowledge
of comfort, security, or democracy. Truly a fantastic story!
Keep up the great work!
Kirk Peterson - Flowermound,
I too recently returned from Haiti on a medical mission
trip. The country is certainly in desperate need of outside
support. Great job on raising this issue. Hopefully, you
continue to provide news stories such as this one so as
to continue to remind the public of Haiti's need for help
and support. Thanks.
Anonymous - Petionville, Haiti
I live and work in Haiti and want to compliment you on the
excellent portrayal of Haitian reality. Your reporter was
a very courageous woman.
Dave Hansen - Irene, South Dakota
I have taken mission teams to Haiti for each of the last
15 years and can confirm the accuracy of this article. Such
poverty in Haiti and yet the people have such faith. Every
American should go to Haiti and then realize how good we
have it here. Then each American should decide how they
will help our brothers and sisters in all the world have
a better life. Some of that $125 billion spent on war this
past year might have been put to better use saving human
Jessi Hempel - New York, New York
This is an amazing story and wonderfully interactive presentation.
Booker Blumenberg - Gary, Indiana
Very informative. Our government and news media are not
covering this important story. This is an urgent tragedy
that requires attention and redress. Thanks to you for your
sacrifice to make it known.
Perry Johnson - Indianapolis, Indiana
I went to Haiti in 1985 and found the same conditions on
my visit. I was there shortly after Baby Doc was overthrown,
it seems to me that the USA has had no feeling of compassion
for the first slave nation to claim its independence. Is
this a race issue? Only a few hundred miles from US shores,
a history of manipulation by the USA dating back to the
1800s, and our policy of not allowing political or economic
refuge is a disgrace.
Anonymous - West Vancouver, Canada
This is a very interesting story that really needed to be
told. The water problems in Haiti really are horrific. The
article is also very well written, and the author should
be congratulated for the very clear writing, which makes
this huge problem even more meaningful for the rest of us
in N.America, sitting in our warm, comfortable homes with
water immediately available for any of the many wasteful
uses we require of it.
Gary Ogletree - Reno, Nevada
Well done. We should help, payback for supporting Papa Doc
for so long.
Alexis Clark - New York, New
A moving story. Shoshana Guy truly captured the hopelessness
of this region of the Caribbean. It's a shame to know that
hundreds of thousands of people are suffering from drinking
contaminated water. The United States could help Haitians
build sewers and teach them more about environmental safeguards
if they truly cared about the island. But that's the problem
-- no one does.
Bob DellaValle-Rauthe - Huddleston, Virginia
Thank you for doing this story. The pictures are wonderful.
I just returned once more from Haiti on a Pax Christi USA
Haiti Human Rights Mission (Sept. 27-Oct.4) - a full report
can be found at www.paxchristiusa.org. I was told by a number
of people that in a few years Port-au-Prince will be forced
to import clean water. Culligan is on site producing water
but a very high cost and not available to most of the population.
I believe in the rural areas where we frequently travel
the ingesting of non-potable water is probably as high as
80-90% and the primary cause of disease in Haiti, according
to Dr. Paul Farmer and my own eyewitness.
Joel Robbins - Syracuse, Indiana
Nicely fashioned report, Shoshana! I'm going to pass it
on to friends and family. My son was in Haiti for over two
years as a Peace Corps volunteer. My wife and I visited
him there two times for a week-and-a-half each time. We
know the problems but few people do. Your report will help
an isolationist world understand. Americans especially have
little understanding of the world other than from vacationing
at foreign resorts.
I hope you follow this up with suggestions
on how to help. A lot of mission work in Haiti consists
of stopgap measures that are temporary and/or make Haiti
into a country of beggars and welfare recipients. The solution
is not simple, but the rest of the world needs advice on
how to help.
Anonymous - Birmingham, Alabama
The text is correct and describes with precision the plight for water in Haiti, the complexity and the importance of the problem. On the scale of Maslow's basic human needs, water ranks second and no life is possible without it. So the government of Haiti and its allies s well as the NGOs and the various associations and organizations in the country need to give this issue top priority.
Specialists as well as development workers and lay people have been debating and reflecting on the issue for years; Possibly effective strategies have been defined. If I remember correctly, the following have been proposed in different workshop documents:
Those propositions may not solve the problem but they might well take a big bite
out of it.
- Privatization of the water plant in Port-Au-Prince. (personally I do not expect that to help.)
- Urbanization control; the government to offer strong incentives for people to move out of the capital, reducing the load on the existing system. Support/stimulate private water system for rural areas. It will cost less to build a new one than to repair the capital's system.
- Windmills powered sea water transformation for costal cities.
- Extensive dry wall project for at least 75% of the Haitian mountains. (It was once suggested that each enregistered NGO completes a minimum length of dry wall yearly.)
Kathi Larson - Yankton, South
I have been to Haiti's western coast twice now in the last
two years to the city of Jeremie and work with the Haitian
Health Foundation and know some of the struggles that the
Haitian people face, it takes people like you to get the
word out to the rest of the world. Thank you!
L. Andre Stevens - Katonah, New York
I think what should be done is not the privatization of
CAMEP and SNEP, Haiti needs private investments which would
provide help in creating dessalination centers, dams, upgrade
the capacity of Peligre, and the irrigation issue should
be dealt by the merger of these two entities. One way it
could be done is selling bonds to Haitian investors, and
lease the equipment in return for profit sharing as the
water could generate electricity which people will pay a
premium for in Haiti. The creation of a new bureaucratic
entity will create more problems since they would [have]
to share financing with other ministries. The Haitians could
also bring [in] foreign help giving them tax [breaks] if
they invest in the infrastructure. One government they could
tap for that is Singapore which has a formidable record
on water generation.I think the sectors [that] need privatization
are telephone, internet, satellite services, higher education,
private research, broadband, mining and exploration -- but
crucial services like water and electricity should be left
to the state. Haiti needs those public sector jobs to keep
unemployment rate down since private companies will be more
profit-driven and hire less workers.
In response to the question: What responsibility, if any, does the U.S. bear toward helping Haiti solve its water crisis?
Saby - Georgia
Being a Haitian, I am filled with sadness when I see how
my people are living like dogs. I went to Haiti last year,
and hell is one of the best ways to describe how the poor
and the better off depend on money coming from America and
Canada. The government is to blame; they pocket what others
have given to Haiti and then have the nerve to ask for more.
This is a problem I debate with my fellow Haitians during
gatherings. We know how to fix the problem, but we are not
willing to help.