Haiti; Land of Extremes
April 20, 2003 11:47 AM   Subscribe

I've just returned from Haiti, spending time volunteering in hospitals and orphanages. It's a land of incredible beauty and desperate poverty and economic disparity. For many there is still an air of mystery about the culture and the religion,and despite the many rueful hands history has dealt them, the Haitians are remarkably resilient and hopeful people.
posted by moonbird (6 comments total)
I've friends who are helping Haiti through the installation of BioSand filters. They're Clean Water for Haiti and despite the evangel web page, they're not doing any actual evangelizing.

The conditions in Haiti are appalling. It is the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere, and it shows. In urban areas, barely half of the population has access to sewage systems; in the rural area, only a fifth of the population. The rest of the nation does its toileting anywhere they wish.

Which, in turn, has resulted in completely contanimated river systems and water tables. All water must be treated as suspect: in all likelyhood it plays host to pathogens ranging from fecal coliform bacteria to hepatitus viruses to parasitic worms.

The BioSand filters use layers of differently-sized media to create a microbiologic zone that "eats" a lot of the pathogens. The top layers filter out large organics, the middle layers are biologically active, and the bottom layers provide micron filtration.

They provide about a litre per minute of potable water -- the difference between life and death, or at least a life of illness, for most people.

Neat thing about CW4H's program is that it's micro-business oriented: town committees are assisted in deciding where to locate the filter, how to charge for its use, and how to budget the collected monies to maintain the filters and to build new filters.

A couple bucks Canadian equals about a day's hard labour in Haiti. It takes very little contribution to CW4H to make a very large difference in Haiti.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:14 PM on April 20, 2003

Thanks moonbird, this is good!
Here's an essay on Vodou spiritual beliefs I found interesting...
posted by plep at 12:48 PM on April 20, 2003

I've had a dream of going to Haiti and being properly initiated for a long time -- I know now of the perfect hotel for it.
posted by Katemonkey at 3:10 PM on April 20, 2003

haiti needs help . that is undeniable .
though , after having been to haiti in 1996 with the u.s. peace corps . i have come to an irrefutable conclusion :

haiti needs help first and a new religion last . i hope that religious groups who go to help improve the drinking water rather than the spiritual beliefs .
posted by mishaco at 5:43 PM on April 21, 2003

Haiti is a tragedy, and I wish someone would come up with a solution to the Carribean's #1 basket case. For one, there should be a coup against "President" Aristide, a corrupt, arguably mentally ill SOB.

The Wall Street Journal mentioned, a few days back how the UN's failure in Haiti is excellent proof that it should not be calling the shots in Iraq.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:28 PM on April 21, 2003

I think most of the religious groups helping in Haiti are putting religion last. For starters, the neediness is so overwhelming that there's little choice.

And, more so, voodoo is so entrenched that anyone getting too righteous is likely to end up shunned, if not harmed.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:41 PM on April 21, 2003

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