My husband took this photo on December 28, 2011, just weeks before the two year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti.
This sight leaves many to wonder, where has the aid money gone? Right after the quake, there was a tremendous outpouring of money. About one out of every ten Americans donated money to Haiti, and that is incredibly impressive. So I understand why my friends and family have grown tired of me asking for more money for the arts center I work for and support in Jacmel, Haiti. Enough money was pledged or donated to give every Haitian over $300. So why is the Presidential Palace still in ruins? Why are there hundreds of thousands of people who have called a tent “home” for the last two years?
The best answers I’ve found were written by Bill Quigley and Amber Ramanauskas and was published on CommonDreams.org. The article is worth reading in its entirety, so I’m posting the long link in case the click-through doesn’t work for you. http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/01/03-2
I’ll also summarize it for you.
The United States received more of the US donated money than Haiti did. This mostly went to the US Army and also large non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like Save the Children or UNICEF. Less than 1% of the money went directly to Haiti or to the Haitian government. Very little money ever reached Haitian people, businesses, or Haitian NGOs. Most of the money went to large US based NGOs that have not been explicit on how they spent it. For-profit companies got some of the money. Some of the money was pledged but never distributed. Some of it isn’t spent yet.
This article ends by saying something I fully agree with. To help Haiti monetarily, give money directly to Haitian people, businesses, and Haitian NGOs. Haitians are the people who are truly solving their problems and dealing with their day-to-day struggles and solutions. The money should be spent to directly promote jobs, education, and skills for Haitians.
The arts center I support is just that. We are a partnership with Haitians. We provide classes, materials, and a safe space for children and the community. Our goal is to pay the Haitians who have tirelessly volunteered to keep the center running. If you donate to Jakmel Ekspresyons arts center, you will be able to see exactly how your money is spent and the people you directly benefit. Thanks.