By Nick Allen and Patricia Mazzei
Haiti’s endemic problems and corruption have only grown worse since the country was devastated by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake in 2010. A cholera epidemic killed more than 8,300 people and put 11 million more at risk. The interim government collapsed in disgrace in 2011.
The country is still divided between extreme poverty and extreme inequality. J’ai m’aider un emploi. Devant ma même forte taboulété. Posted by Charline Paul in Haiti on Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Given the challenges, the international community welcomed former President Michel Martelly’s decision in 2016 to dissolve the parliament and call a presidential election. With hundreds of thousands of votes needed to win, the poll held Feb. 7, 2017.
The president-elect, Jovenel Moïse, narrowly beat his opposition rival, Jude Celestin, to claim the nation’s highest office. Almost a year later, a record 30 candidates are still jockeying for the chance to run against him. The public has little faith in the process.
Voters have called for more involvement from civil society. A communications group, Voices for Citizenship, represents some 20,000 locals and hundreds of community members. The group was created after Trump’s election, before the president’s visit to Haiti.
Trump declared on Thursday he’s willing to help to rebuild Haiti as former President Barack Obama once helped with healthcare reform.
The buzz around the building has gotten louder. Treich Bourg wants you to know about it. Posted by Voices for Citizenship in Haiti on Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Now, it’s trying to offer hope. “Today is a day of revolution,” head organizer André Ngaire Oforia told The Washington Post. “Today is a day of resistance.”
It’s a fear, which his other members feel, that an array of new forces is gaining ground in Haiti: gangs, street gangs, police intimidation, and rising tax evasion by businesses.
There’s now a new push for people to make groups like Voices for Citizenship. But with little access to social networks and education, a lack of political and military power and a general aversion to holding rallies, students and civil servants have started in-house groups instead. They’re seeing some of the most high-impact social change and are already shaping the shape of the country’s future.
Volker Eberson, who works for a computer firm, works with some 60 local workers and two volunteer coordinators who operate independently from the chief: “Things have evolved drastically since the earthquake,” Eberson said. “Society in general has changed and needs to change a lot. It needs to expand and never go back.”
Oforia said society “goes through a period of talking, working out strategies, adapting a bit to what happened here — and then moving on.”
Haiti has been rebuilding for more than a decade since the earthquake. Gilet Amelcar, 36, who works with Ngaire Oforia and participated in Voices for Citizenship’s last leadership conference said it’s a shame Haiti isn’t doing better. “This is a country’s property,” Amelcar said. “You should be able to use it for the good, in a way that can bring growth and development.”
Despite the challenges, Ngaire Oforia said in order to make that happen the next generation must get involved.