Saturday, October 30, 2010

Aid in Haiti

Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere and one of the ten poorest countries in the world, has been battling need and destitution for years. Following the earthquake that further devastated Haiti on January 12, 2010, major issues in the country have come to light. Although Haiti has been receiving aid for decades, there are people who say that Haiti has been forsaken by the rest of the world. After the earthquake the focus of the world turned to Haiti. Haitians are in dire need of not only help, but also of guidance in order to provide an environment of development and improvement that perhaps has never existed. Countries and organizations all over the world have sent aid to Haiti to help minimize and manage the level of damage of which this country is victim. But what exactly is being done with this aid?
            According to This American Life (WEBZ), a radio program based in Chicago, Illinois, the resolution of issues in Haiti is not going as well as people might think. In May, four months after the earthquake, there were 1.3 million displaced Haitians. They were roaming the ruinous streets looking for ways to make money. The living conditions are deplorable; due to the rainy season people were trapped in their homes because of water 3 feet deep. Something very distressing is the hunger that even the most innocent cannot escape; a This American Life correspondent, at around 5 PM asked a group of children if they had eaten anything at all that day and some said they had not. This is where we ask ourselves an important question: how is the aid being distributed and is this where it is needed most?
            This American Life investigated what is going on with the aid. One of the results yielded was that in Port au Prince, the capital of Haiti, many agencies ended the emergency relief aid for the people and started using the funds for the rebuilding of Haiti. Here lies a major controversy and they bring up two issues. One is whether sponsors, or perhaps authorities in charge of the distribution of funds, should worry about the people in desperate need of food and medical attention now. The other is whether they should put those issues aside in order to reconstruct a country in ruins. Where should the money go? What would be the best solution? These questions have become great dilemmas in the lives of Haitians.
            With this issue things can go both ways; authorities can decide to help the people get by on a day to day basis or they can decide to rebuild the country for the advancement of society. But how can society advance if the people are struggling to make ends meet? And if they choose to focus most of the funds to rebuilding, how would they go about it? One way, suggested by This American Life, is capacity building. This means that they would teach the Haitians themselves how to rebuild their country, for example, teach them how to build roads and to create small banks to lend money to small farmers, hence, creating a viable foundation and market for their goods. But all this takes time and is very difficult to accomplish.
            When these issues are analyzed, one can construe that one of the more adequate solutions is to manage the funds so that they reach the people and also help rebuild Haiti. This is because authorities must work their way up and have a foundation of societal improvement and advancement so that it can thus be arranged to resolve the most pressing problems, such as reconstructing Haiti.       
 Maria Dilonex 

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