In the backyard of America

< Previous | Home | Next >

She lives in the backyard of America.

This old and poor woman contracted the tuberculosis when America only got a flu. Her name is Haiti.

When the devil stroke on 9/11, America buried its deads with courage and dignity.

Day by day, recovery is taking place.

America is getting back on its feet thanks to its resilience and optimism.

Meanwhile, in the backyard, the Old-black lady had no deads to bury but her hope; her children who rely greatly on South Floridian hotels and restaurants fall short of income as a direct result of this tragedy.

A lack of everything becomes suddenly evident in the kitchen cabinets of the Old-Mama who could not expect much from them. In the backyard of America, there is no resilience and no recovery.

Laying on her back, she turns her eyes on her God(s) praying for the miracle of hope as she would like to hope again.

While America is fighting its war against Evil for Justice, Haiti is facing its own war against Despair for Survival.

While America is on the way to Victory, Haiti is on the path of Misery.

What will it take for this tiny island to make it from Misery to Victory?

What can be done for Haiti to become a success story?

When will it be the turning point?

These are tough questions! To some extent, Haitians are solely responsible for all that. Nevertheless, the Haitian liability is far from being an immunity for Americans, especially Floridians who know better what it is to feel the heat from the Caribbean's.

Time for action is now; it will take a bit of leadership and a lot of money to turn Haiti around.

In 1994, the time was right and the opportunity was great; unfortunately, the Clinton Administration was more concerned with turning Aristide back to power rather than turning things around.

Eight(8) years later, Democracy, economic development and political stability remain unknown entities for the Caribbean Island.

Indeed, the quest for leadership still goes on. Our miserable lady carries out day by day her load of poverty with the vague expectation of a prophet who will -some day, somehow- point out the Promised Land. Even so, she lives long enough to know that such event may never happen unless a miracle.

She has seen many of her children confronting the wrath of the ocean during their journey to Florida.

Many of them have died; and she can't tell whether or not Haitian Moses is still alive.

She has also seen her offspring in important numbers reaching the shores in spite of all the odds. Furthermore, she has seen how a community of boat people had become, over the years, a community of vote-people.

Today, two (2) mayors, one(1) state representative, few commissioners and a circuit judge have sworn before taking office in America.

Haitian doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, technicians, managers and entrepreneurs are relatively prominent with regard to their overview status two(2) decades ago. One(1) haitian athlete is a Miami-Hurricane champion; three(3) others play in the N.B.A. Wyclef Jean is a top international artist, a Grammy Award winner.

Tyrone Edmond is a male model who has done what other men in the fashion industry have failed to do: changing the world reaction toward black beauty.

He has been on advertising campaigns for Banana Republic and Ralph Lauren.

He made the cover of several magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Gear Magazine, Madison, Seventeen, Mademoiselle etc...Garcelle Beauvais with her notable TV appearances in NYPD Blue, Opposite Sexe, Jamie Foxx Show and Wild, wild west broke the barriers.

Each year, Haitians in Miami hold their own version of "Grammy Awards Ceremony".

In all aspects of life -from workplace to universities and colleges - they are committed to hard work to achieve change.

In all that, the Old-Mama has seen the seeds of leadership growing on foreign soil; and she believes the messiah may perhaps come from there.

This island is a woman.

Behind this rhetorical figure hides a crude reality: women constitute the backbone of Haitian society.

Statistics show that 70% of families in Haiti are single-mother families.

They have, in average, 4 children in urban areas, and 6 in rural areas.

They are more likely to be poor as a result of single parenthood.

Unlike their counterparts who are given generous subsidies in Sweden, Haitian women must find a way to make it without the merciful hand of government.

These women want to see change in their lives.

Mostly, they are small farmers or peasants.

They have little or no power over the land which is their means of existence; otherwise, landlords, military chiefs, moneylenders and religious leaders do. Haiti still remains, to some extent, an agrarian society.

Since 1804, not much has been done to improve the low status and condition of women.

They plant and harvest crops.

They continue to shoulder a far greater number of domestic burdens than men do. They take primary responsibility for bearing and nurturing children.

Those who escape farming cannot find anything better than dead-end jobs with little opportunity for training or advancement.

Furthermore, Haitian women face many other issues and situations such as illiteracy and lack of power against male dominance.

The United Nations International Conference on Population and Development held, in Cairo in 1994, could not emphasize more the importance of women's empowerment approach.

In fact, it recognized that social and economic development can not be secured in a sustainable way without the full participation of women.

This U.N. statement is essentially true for Haiti where women and girls are quite often neglected in favor of large-scale infrastructure projects such as dams, irrigation, and road building.

The U.N. International Conference on World Poverty held last March in Monterrey has shown a tremendous level of consciousness toward financing development in poor countries.

It also came to the understanding that corrupt officials undermine the efforts of development by misusing foreign aid dollars.

It even went further by asking rich countries to give up 0,7% of their P.I.B. to a Public Aid Development Fund. No doubt! These are steps in the right direction; but for them to be meaningful, clear-cut action programs based on the concept of women's empowerment must follow.

From that perspective, millions of hard-working poorest women in our hemisphere may get access to micro-credit programs which lend small amounts of money to them. More women may also get access to literacy, training and education.

Therefore, they may accumulate money and power through their own business activities, which may enable them to become owners, managers and administrators.

One can look at the Summit of Monterrey as a follow-up of that of Cairo in that sense it ties up the women's empowerment approach to the availability of money.

Put into context, this is maybe the dawn of a new day in developing countries.

With regard to Haiti, the poorest nation in the American hemisphere, its survival for 200 years despite of all the odds is without doubt a miracle; its redemption through the Spirit of Monterrey may be a greater one.

Harry E. Jean-Philippe

Harry E. Jean-philippe, August 1 2003, 10:41 AM

REPLY   Next >


Start a NEW topic or,
Jump to previous | Next Topic >

< Previous | Home | Next >


Messages in this topic

I think this article was well put together. It also touches many important facts about Haiti, the people and the problems this island is facing. I... read more >
Topic, 8-Aug-03 11:28 am
I believe that many of us will be long, gone and dead before we see Haiti turn around. Corruption is so deeply rooted in our country that it’s... read more >
Topic, 8-Aug-03 9:12 pm
Dear Mr. Jean-Phillipe, Thank you for your article. I am awed by the descriptive way you write. My heartfelt prayers are with the people of Haiti. I... read more >
Jameela Abdul-malik, 29-Apr-10 7:43 am


< Previous | Home | Next >