Read this January 9, 2012 update from our partner, World Relief. You will be reading about some of the things our money has gone (and will go) to fund and will get a up-to-date update of the progress and problems still facing Haiti.
Tue Nov 29 00:57:07 UTC 2011
* Haiti says thanks for food aid, but needs jobs more
* South Korean textile firm will hire 20,000 workers
* U.S. government, IDB are also major investors
By Joseph Guyler Delva
CARACOL, Haiti, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Haiti and its international partners broke ground on Monday on a $257 million industrial park that represents the largest foreign investment since the Caribbean nation was hit by a catastrophic earthquake nearly two years ago.
The 608-acre (246-hectare) Caracol Industrial Park on Haiti's northwest coast will be anchored by a South Korean textile firm, Sae-A Trading Co Ltd, which has committed to hire 20,000 people. That would make it the largest private employer in the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation.
Haitian President Michel Martelly said the park could eventually provide jobs for 65,000 workers, which would increase Haiti's garment industry workforce by more than 200 percent.
Martelly thanked international donors for helping provide food and water to homeless Haitians living in tents in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake that wrecked parts of the capital and killed as many as 300,000 people.
"We thank them for that, but that should change. Today, here is the model of investment Haitians need from the friends of Haiti," Martelly said.
"This model of investment will allow Haitians to feel proud. They go to work, they get their salary and they will buy their own food and water."
Sae-A is investing $78 million in the initial phase of the project, while the U.S. government is contributing $124 million and the Inter-American Development Bank $55 million.
Haiti's government contributed the land for the industrial park in Caracol, about 15 miles (25 km) from the port city of Cap Haitien.
The first operations are set to begin in March. The project will include development of roads, an electricity-generating facility and housing.
Sae-A is a major supplier to U.S. retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Target Corp, and Gap Inc. Promoters of the project say it could revive Haiti's garment industry and are hoping to attract other clothing manufacturers that might benefit from increased American trade preferences for Haitian-made apparel.
The Haitian government is courting additional tenants in the textile industry as well as electronics and furniture manufacturers.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, a U.N. Special Envoy to Haiti, attended the groundbreaking ceremony with other potential investors.
"The Haitian government has offered real incentives to get people to come here and I thank all the business leaders who are with us today," Clinton said.
"This industrial park is the result of people working together. Haiti is open for business because people are working together."
Supporters have high hopes for the project. Clinton said that for every job created in the park, one new job would be created in the local economy.
The IDB said the project would create more than $500 million in wages and benefits over a decade, with each worker earning more than three times Haiti's per capita GDP of $2,400.
It said the initiative would increase the number of jobs in the formal private sector by at least 20 percent. (Writing by Jane Sutton; editing by Christopher Wilson)
It is good to be back in Haiti. There is something surreal about a place so different than our culture, yet only an hour and a half flight away. Our flight from Miami to Haiti was our shortest flight of the day (Detroit-->Dallas-->Miami-->Port-au-Prince). My immediate first impression of Haiti was that not much has changed since I was here exactly 1 year ago. While you don't see as many piles of rubble, you see just as many tent cities strewed about the capital city. It is a sobering feeling to think about living in a patchwork conglomerate of tarps for a year and a half, raising a wife and children. This is by far the biggest thing that has hit me. It is no longer sexy in America to help Haiti. That $10 Red Cross text message is as much a thing of the past as the Backstreet Boys. It is amazing how trends shift in our culture from hip to forgotten. This is how our entire culture works so it's no surprise that our attention span for disaster relief works the same way. Do you remember when iPod screens were that dim greenish color? Or how cell phones used to only be telephones? Or when it was cool to roll up your jeans at the bottom? Our culture conditions us to be cool today and to forget yesterday. We have moved from Katrina to Haiti to Japan to tornadoes to Bin Laden like someone with no long term memory whatsoever. "The CNN effect" fixates our attention on the current trauma with over-the-top amounts of media attention and analysis. But after a few days, or maybe a few weeks, the news crews roll out, our life goes on, and we move on to feasting on the next trauma the news has before us...after we send in our $10 text donation of course. The harsh reality is that these traumas continue to exist for the people ravished by them, they cannot turn off the TV or turn the page of the newspaper; especially in a country that was the poorest in the Western Hemisphere before the earthquake even hit. Being in Haiti again is a sober reminder to me that Haiti needs our support as much as it ever has. We need to pray for our brothers and sisters that they will be lifted up with the mighty power of God in holistic transformation ways, knowing His mercies are new every morning. Knowing that He loves them; and that WE LOVE THEM. We need to analyze our lives and the ways we spend our lavish wealth and consider donating to agencies like World Relief, helping the most vulnerable in Haiti. I keep thinking: What if I was born in Haiti? What if my parents died of AIDS? Or in an earthquake? What would become of me? Haiti is a place of such beauty, and such sorrow. I read Psalm 77 tonight and was greatly encouraged that our God is one who's might is just as strong today as it has been the creation of the world. Please consider how you can be a part of lifting up Haiti: in prayer, through donating, through spreading the vision of Lansing for Haiti and World Relief. It is good to be back in Haiti. -Noah