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Statement from Kevin Powell

January 12, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 BROOKLYN, NEW YORK—One year ago today we witnessed one of the greatest human tragedies in recent world history, the horrific earthquake and its ugly aftermath in Haiti. So many of us, myself included, have donated, organized, mobilized, and done whatever we can to provide relief and support to the people of this great Caribbean nation. I am personally proud of my team’s support for Edeyo (www.edeyo.org), an amazing school and community outpost on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince that caters to 300 or so children ages 3-14. Indeed, our recent toys and supplies drive brought immeasurable relief for Edeyo. And I will continue to support this and other organizations that are really servicing the communities most in need in Haiti. But one year later, and in spite of some incremental progress, here and there, much remains undone. Some estimates say nearly a million people are living in tents. Basic necessities are woefully missing. People are displaced, or missing, and countless children are without parents. The rape of women and girls is rampant, and trauma in every form is very real. And many individuals and bogus organizations have come to view Haiti and its people as a cash cow for the sake of profit only.

 

For sure, I urge everyone to please think twice, and to do thorough research before donating anything further to an organization that claims to be supporting the rebuilding of Haiti (including organizations that may have the support of very prominent but unsuspecting individuals and celebrities). Know where your money or supplies are going, and seek proof that those items are actually being used for the people, not for personal gain. So on this day not only should we honor, salute, and remember the victims of the Haiti earthquake, and those who’ve died since for related reasons, including the cholera outbreak, but let us, the world over, renew our commitment to ensuring the nation of Haiti receives the pledged donations, resources, and assistance it requires to recover, heal, and move forward with its re-development, with its future. I am so clear that Haitians are a mighty and resilient people who have experienced much oppression and challenges in their 200-year history. But I too am doubly clear that Haiti’s best days are ahead, because we who truly care will help to make it so, and because the people of Haiti will make it so.

 

In a recent telephone conversation I had with Regine Zamor (see http://www.bagaydwol.wordpress.com and http://www.strangethingsmovie.com), a brilliant Haitian-American blogger, community organizer, and filmmaker, who literally moved to Haiti just two days after the earthquake last year, she reminded me that Americans, and the entire global community, should not judge Haiti. And that we should understand Haiti must be rebuilt by Haitian standards, and no one else’s. I agree with Ms. Zamor 100 percent. In the midst of the nonstop chatter about government corruption and the numerous accounts of violence in Haiti, we’ve got to make sure that we listen to the voices of leaders like Regine Zamor, people who are actually there, on the ground daily, doing the work for the people. For it is in this spirit that Haiti will be born again, that the lives lost and sacrificed will not be vain. KEVIN POWELL Activist, Writer, Co-founder, BK Nation http://www.kevinpowell.net

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