Jan 12 2011
By Jenny Eaton Dyer, Ph.D.
One year ago today, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit the poorest nation in our hemisphere: Haiti. More than 300,000 people died, and more than 1 million Haitians were left without shelter or work. With the subsequent onslaught of Hurricane Tomas and cholera, thousands more have lost their lives.
Former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist, M.D., arrived in Portau- Prince immediately following the disaster with a medical mission team for the victims of the earthquake. Hundreds waited for emergency surgery at Baptist Mission Hospital where the team worked day and night for the trauma patients. Within hours of his arrival, the doctor- senator sent back blog postings and photos to his Nashville-based global health organization, Hope Through Healing Hands, sharing the stories or both horror and hope of so many who had survived.
One of his patients, 16-year-old schoolgirl Rouite Tisma, had been found alive under the rubble of her schoolhouse. Knowing she had been at the school, her frightened father searched the site, calling her name for any sign of life. He finally heard a small sound from beneath the collapsed stone building indicating she was still alive. Three days later, they dug her out of the rubble. Her right leg was crushed, and her left forearm and hand swollen. But she and the family rejoiced that she was simply alive.
‘Network of mutuality’
How does the extreme poverty of Haiti affect Tennesseans? The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.’’ Even in this landlocked state, there is a robust global health community addressing emergency relief, prevention of disease, education, extreme poverty and sustainable health care in developing nations.
Hope Through Healing Hands’ Tennessee Global Health Coalition boasts more than 60 in-state members, including nonprofit organizations, churches, universities and corporations who touch lives in almost every country in the world.
At the time the earthquake hit in Haiti, the coalition had been in existence for six months. Yet, even in that short period, the partners were able to quickly and efficiently communicate with one another the needs, intentions and goals to begin the work of relief.
Mobile Medical Disaster Relief inoculated thousands of Haitian children against tetanus and diphtheria. Soles 4 Souls committed to providing more than 1 million pairs of shoes to Haitians. And Sweet Sleep shipped beds, mattresses and linens for children newly orphaned, for a clean, safe place to sleep.
On this anniversary of one of the most devastating earthquakes in history, we are reminded of King’s “inescapable network of mutuality.’’ Wonderful local groups and individuals are changing lives in forgotten corners of the world, albeit quietly, from right here in our own backyards. Tennessee’s volunteer spirit is alive and well.
We applaud the global efforts of these groups on behalf of Tennessee and the United States, using health as a currency for peace. In this increasingly globalized world, these countries are our neighbors in the world village, and addressing poverty — whether in Pulaski or Port-au-Prince — means a better, safer world for us all.
Jenny Eaton Dyer, Ph.D., is the executive director of Hope Through Healing Hands.
Jan 09 2011
Jan 05 2011
Dec 22 2010
Note: Senator Frist sits on the board of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.
Helping Haiti not just survive but thrive
The stakes are high as Haitians struggle to resolve disputes over the accuracy of preliminary vote tallies from the November 28 national election. Haiti's next president and its parliament must be able to lead the nation from catastrophe to prosperity. But it is equally important that the international community helps Haiti's new leadership establish an environment in which the nation can thrive.
Amid this latest crisis and the persisting pains for millions of earthquake victims, the approaching one-year anniversary of the January 12 disaster is a reminder of all that must still be done.Â The world must redouble the efforts of the past year to tend to the many remaining urgent needs. At the same time, we must not lose sight of a need just as critical: creating the building blocks for long-term, vigorous economic expansion and job growth — the only real path to a stronger and better Haiti.
Indeed, the goal of the donor community should be to put itself out of the Haiti aid business. To do that, we need to be laser-focused on helping Haitians create and build their own livelihoods. There are no straight lines from pain to promise in this equation, but Haiti has one important thing on its side: despite the devastation, the Haitian people are ready to write a positive new chapter in their country's troubled history. We must help them do so by promoting job growth and economic opportunity— and then by getting out of the way.
As Paul Farmer, Partners In Health's founder and United Nations Deputy Special Envoy to Haiti said in a recent Foreign Policy column: "Haiti has 9.8 million people, and at least half were unemployed even before the earthquake. If we focused our efforts on the singular task of getting them jobs -- even if we did nothing else -- Haiti's reconstruction could be a success."
This is the focus that former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have given the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.Â Since we began independent operations in May 2010, we have dedicated ourselves to making targeted, thoughtful grants and investments in four areas that are at the foundation of viable economic growth:
- Restarting, expanding and creating new small businesses, in which women play a large role;
- Supporting a transition from an underground economy to a formal one;
- Bolstering job creation, particularly jobs providing direct social benefits; and
- Empowering people, especially women and youth, with life skills and job training to embrace economic opportunity.
For example, in July the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund announced a $245,000 grant to INDEPCO, Haiti's largest network of garment micro-entrepreneurs, which provided an injection of capital that will enable 1,000 workers to complete 40,000 school uniforms.
In late November, the Fund, announced a $5.68 million partnership with MasterCard Foundation, YouthBuild International, and the Haitian NGO IDEJEN to support construction job training for at-risk young people. We've also just announced a grant to Architecture for Humanity in support of the Haitian Rebuilding Center in Port-au-Prince, which will provide design support and technical expertise to Haitian construction firms.
To date, the Fund has raised $52 million, of which nearly $20 million has been committed to organizations that support our mission of economic growth and empowerment. We seek to empower and catalyze — letting Haitians lead the way and promoting projects with ripple-effect potential.
We also have addressed selected humanitarian needs, playing a "gap-filling" role. For instance, the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund responded to the recent cholera outbreak by redirecting a portion of a recently announced $1 million grant to GHESKIO, a 28-year-old Haitian healthcare organization, to its cholera treatment centers in Port-au-Prince.
Cholera is a disease of poverty and, like so many of the challenges Haitians face, the symptom of a much larger problem. It threatens lives, but also the island's ability to prosper. That's why we are remaining focused on the difficult but critical work of growing economic opportunity. In the coming weeks we will announce additional grants and investments, including financing for Haitian artisan exports and support for emergency medical training.
In the months since January 12, and for so many years before, the story of Haiti has been one of aid. The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund supports initiatives that will write very different stories â€” of Haitian mangoes sweetening Coca Cola beverages; of Haitian artisans producing crafts for Macy's; and of Haitian youth emerging from the shadows to obtain skills and jobs. These will be stories of the new Haiti: Haitians producing and exporting to thrive, rather than depending on aid to survive; stories not just of help, but of hope.
Gary Edson is CEO of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and former senior advisor on security and economic affairs to President George W. Bush. He co-led the development of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and also led the effort that established the Millennium Challenge Corporation to combat global poverty.