The earthquake in Haiti a couple of years ago exposed – quite literally – how that nation needs an approach to building that lasts.
The crumbling of so many buildings, and infrastructure, is still evident today. The word “broken” comes to mind time and time again when driving through, and thinking about, this island nation – even in areas not touched by earthquake or hurricane.
A few facts about Haiti, extracted from Wikipedia:
- 70% of the population lives on less than $2 US/day (from the International Red Cross)
- Foreign aid makes up 30-40% of the national budget
- 80% of college graduates live abroad – the money they send home makes up over 50% of Haiti’s GDP
- Estimates of unemployment range from 50-70%
- 90% of Haiti’s children suffer from waterborne diseases and/or intestinal parasites
Yet, driving along outside of Cap Haitian in the north, there are whole swaths of beautiful land, mountains rising up in the background, and the word “potential” also floods the mind. What if long-term, sustainable approaches to life and growth and education and agriculture and business were planted in Haiti? Would they flourish? Could self-reliance and productivity take root?
I have to believe it can happen.
Short-term missions of mercy and help – donations and supplies and feet on the ground – are all helpful in a nation plagued by more brokenness than we might ever see in our “first-world” countries. Immense good has been done, and continues to be done, in countries like Haiti by people willing to give and sacrifice for others. But ultimately, we also need to go beyond band-aids and crutches. In my opinion – based admittedly on a very short visit – Haiti needs new micro-cultures planted that are sustainable, scalable, and holistic, where people and work and productivity can all grow together.
My respect for the work of Double Harvest has grown enormously – even though I didn’t get a chance to visit there on this recent trip, we have sponsored a child through them for years, and they are taking this very long-term approach (here is a link to their most recent report on the Haiti mission – very impressive stuff!)
Haiti needs an agriculture strategy/approach that will help it feed its own people for the long haul. Educational endeavors that will equip youth for leadership. Medical outreach that will boost health and longevity. And forms of industry that will “fit” with the indigenous population. In other words: Haiti needs industrious, resourceful, entrepreneurial commitment. Marathon-capable culture builders. Resources invested to build structures that will last – on every level.
An overwhelming challenge. Where do we begin?
P.S. for those visiting Steve’s Free for the first time (Welcome!), this is my little-known personal blog. Most of my marketing/branding/business writings are over at Connection Agent, and my pharma ramblings are at Impactiviti, if that’s what you’re into…