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SOS Haïti

You know the lifestories of people from Haïti that I had the chance to get to know during the continental meeting of the Americas in November 2007. Yesterday I got a mail from Prisca saying that she was alive and her parents too, others died. She writes about the difficulties to get in touch with other people, friends from the joc in Haiti – she is still living with the insecurity about her friends. She confirmed that Pierlyne has been injured badly. Rameau apparently is in Cayes (south-west of the country) and well.

Communication is that difficult inside Haïti it’s no wonder that we don’t know much about people from the joc here in Europe. I talked with several leaders from joci and wsm and it’s the same for everyone. Having been there before the earthquake I’m not that surprised of this difficulty.

During my stay there in 2007 I visited Gonaïves, the city that has been affected by a hurricane in 2004, three years before, and I couldn’t sense too much recovery, people where still living in small huts build of the pieces that hurricane had left over of their houses. If you are interested you can have a look on some photos I posted on flickr.

There you can see also photos of living and working conditions in Haïti, above all in Port-au-Prince, Gonaïves nen Cayes. “The union makes us strong” is what I saw in Haïti. People, families and neighbours supporting each other – one can only fall in love with this kind of living solidarity. And this is what is now happening again, what you can see and read on the news every day. I was never worried of the gangs which today are on the news and plundering is only understandable in the misery and the chaos which must be there now.

I’m happy to see that there are already ycw starting to collect money or do fundraising activities in order to support the people of Haiti. I think, this is the right thing to do right now.

The people of Haïti now do need medical care, water and something to eat. There are already big efforts being made by the international community. I think our role as ycw needs to be - between all organisations and institutions that are working in Haïti – to support joc Haïti in their struggle as a movement. This means a longer term engagement after the dust has settled and the cameras left Haïti.

I think it would be interesting to establish a real partnership between joc Haïti and kaj Vlaanderen and to develop socio-economic projects together starting from the needs of the folks in the joc. We could contribute to sustainable development in Haïti and they could support us to strengthen the essence of our movement.

Last but not least I think we need to struggle in order to prevent Haïti to be forgotten again. There isn’t anybody responsible for the earthquake but what was our (the people in western countries) contribution in order to develop a state or even civil society structure? The absence of such structures is what makes the distribution of help so difficult today.

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