Haiti Earthquake Recovery Needs More Help

The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) told a key congressional subcommittee Thursday that immediate problems continue to confront the relief and recovery process in quake-torn Haiti.

“The title of the hearing, ‘The Crisis in Haiti: Are We Moving Fast Enough?,’ poses a question that has a simple and easy answer: ‘No,’ we are not moving fast enough,” says Jimmy Jean-Louis, the actor and spokesperson for PADF’s recovery efforts in Haiti. “Too many Haitians continue to live in despicable conditions with little hope of moving to recovery in the foreseeable future.”

Speaking before the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Jimmy Jean-Louis emphasized that more than 1.2 million Haitians live in make-shift camps that are unsafe, unsanitary and unsustainable. And many live under plastic and even bed sheets.

In addition to these camps, he urged the donors to give increased attention to the most vulnerable – children, victims of violence and trafficking in persons.

“The human rights abuses and violence against women and children have surpassed the crisis point,” he says. “Building roads and bridges are critical to Haiti’s future, but they should not be at the expense of the tens of thousands of young boys and girls who are the country’s future.”

Despite these and other immense problems, Jimmy Jean-Louis thanked the United States and other supporters who are working on solutions.

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Asked by the House Subcommittee as to what is working well, Jean-Louis testified that a little-known program that inspects homes to see if they are safe for occupancy to is making a difference.

During the past three months, trained engineers working with PADF have inspected more than 53,000 homes and other buildings in the capital area to determine whether they may be occupied.

Called “tagging,” the engineers place a “green” tag on a safe building; a “yellow” tag indicates it is useable but requires some repair; and a “red” tag states the building must be repaired or demolished before it can be used.

PADF is working with the Haitian government and displaced communities to develop training, manuals and prototypes for safe repairs.

“This is a critical step in moving people from the deplorable conditions of the displacement camps to homes that are deemed accessible and safe,” he told the Subcommittee.

Individual and corporate donations to PADF-OAS-HUFH’s Haiti recovery efforts are encouraged by visiting www.ImUnitedforHaiti.org.

In the United States, people may call (877) 572-4484 to donate with a Visa or MasterCard. They may also text HEAL to 50555 to donate $5.

PADF, along with its partners Hollywood Unites for Haiti (www.hufh.org) and the Organization of American States (www.oas.org), responded to the survivors’ needs by providing food, water, shelter, medicine and other supplies.

Thanks to individual, corporate and multilateral cash and in-kind donations, says PADF, they distributed more than 250 tons of supplies since the Jan. 12 earthquake.

PADF is a non-profit organization established in 1962 to promote, facilitate, and implement social and economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the past year, it says, more than 5.6 million people in 18 countries benefited from its programs.

Photo courtesy: PADF

RMN News

Rakesh Raman