Sunday, February 17, 2013

[HoI Course] Looking to the Future (Haiti Today 6/6)



You can find the outline for the course here, a brief history of Haiti here, an introduction to Vodou here,  a discussion of daily life here, an overview of NGOs and foreign intervention here, and a discussion of zombies and spirits of the dead here. Please post all comments, requests, and questions in the Reddit post  rather than the blog. That way we can continue our discussion within the History of Ideas subreddit. I've also posted an album to accompany the post that you can view here

Looking to the Future
Areas of Promise and Hope for Haiti

      So far I've spent a lot of time talking about the problems past and present in Haiti. But there are some promising things too. The goal of this section is to look at some of the areas that have the potential to change Haiti's situation. In particular, I am focusing on projects that have large scale implications and not just small localized focuses. When possible, I've picked out a particular project I find interesting and promising.


      Intensive logging, crops that have leached the top soil, erosion, pollution, deforestation, and contaminated water have created a dire environmental situation in Haiti. Like I laid out in a previous post, less than 2% of Haiti is currently forested and the erosion and poor farming techniques have led to reduced productivity of the soil. For a country that is food poor, this is a serious concern. USAID and NGOs have attempted to solve these issues in a variety of ways, but with little success. For example, there have been a number of attempts to reforest Haiti through planting trees. Often groups choose fruit and avocado trees in the hope that it will kill two birds with one stone. However, what the goats don't eat the local people often cut down to turn into charcoal. Charcoal is still the most popular fuel for cooking and wood is used for heating (the mountains actually do get cold in the winter.) This doesn't stop planting efforts from being the major method utilized by non-profits and aid organizations. It isn't that efforts such as those by the Timberland company are completely ineffective. But unless something larger changes, it merely slows the inevitable and provides a continuous supply of trees for fuel and goat feed.

      Attempts to modernize agriculture have been limited by lack of access to resources, lack of credit available to farmers, land tenure issues, and corruption. However, there are a few interesting projects under way. When I was in Haiti in 2011, I met the executive director of a project called CHIBAS who was trying to cultivate edible Jatropha that he hoped would solve three specific issues. Edible Jatropha is a plant already found in Haiti and is used for marking land boundaries and in some religious ceremonies. While it is edible, as its name suggests, the fruit is not very tasty. But it does provide practical resources. The oil produced from crushing the fruit is a great biofuel - it can replace diesel in a modified engine or be used as cooking fuel. The nuts can also be used like briquettes in place of charcoal. The mash that is left over from pressing the fruit can be used as livestock feed, something that is currently very expensive in Haiti and is almost all imported. The trees grow easily in a wide variety of soils in tropical regions - including sandy and nutrient poor conditions. And, goats don't like to eat them and the wood does not make good charcoal.

      Therefore, with some educational programs they hope to shift locals' use of charcoal to Jatropha nuts and biofuel as well as encourage them to use the mash for feeding livestock. Petroleum and food currently makeup two-thirds of Haiti's annual imports but there are always shortages of each. The Jatropha program is already underway with plants being started in a field and then replanted along the mountainsides when they are big enough. Similar projects have also been underway in places like India where they hope to turn the Jatropha oil into jet fuel. It is important not to overstate the successes of projects like this and retain a healthy level of skepticism. Yet, they do look promising and give hope that the next stage of the Green Revolution will be much more successful. In the past, certain projects like those in Bali failed because they did not take local contexts, concerns, practices, and needs into account when developing their projects. Agriculture has a huge domino effect on environment, nutrition, jobs, economy, gender relations, class, etc. CHIBAS' edible Jatropha projects do a much better job listening to local concerns and trying to address the multiple levels that their work will impact. It helps that the executive director of CHIBAS was born and raised in Haiti so he is able to apply his PhD expertise in genetics, agriculture, and plant biology in a culturally and locally sensitive manner. If you are interested in learning more you can visit informational sites about the project here and here. You can also watch a video about the research going on though unfortunately it is in French.

Education & Economy

      Education can empower people to be their own agents of change and open up new opportunities. Even just gaining literacy skills allows individuals to read newspapers, make informed decisions at the polls, apply for better jobs, navigate bureaucracy, and continue their education on their own. These benefits are even higher when educating women and this is especially true in Haiti where women often manage the money, are primarily in charge of selling in the marketplace, and make most decisions regarding health, nutrition, and education of the children. In short, education is one of the few things that we can provide for other communities that creates a lifelong change.

      Yet, access to education and the ability to afford it is a major problem in Haiti. 57% of the population over the age of 13 is completely illiterate and more are functionally illiterate. 90% of schools in Haiti are private, and at an average of $109 in fees per child per year (about 40% of a poor family's yearly income) it is difficult for families to send one let alone all of their children to school. Most families do their best to send kids to a couple years of elementary school, which is reflected in the 2002-2003 enrollment statistics that show about 76% of children to to first and second grade. However, only 22% stay in school after that. In some areas high school level education is not available at all - public or private. Families that are interviewed for academic research and ones that I've spoken with personally overwhelmingly want their children to get a higher level of education and recognize its value in creating a better future for them. However, they cannot afford the fees, do not always have access to a school for their child, and may need assistance from children that requires them to attend only part-time or drop out completely. Once a child reaches an age where they could babysit younger children, help out on the farm, or assist with production and/or selling of goods the family may need their labor enough that school no longer becomes an option.

      The earthquake made this situation even more dire. At least 3,000 schools were damaged or destroyed and it will be years still before they are rebuilt. Additionally, the financial strain of sending a child to school is exacerbated when a natural disaster hits. Families lost homes and jobs and the influx of international aid workers has made prices for everything - food, shelter, water, clothing - increase dramatically. Many children and adults also experienced highly traumatizing events that may psychologically hinder them from working or attending school. And the recent cholera epidemic that has killed about 8,000 people has also created serious burdens for families. Therefore, it is important to remember that the ability and desire for attending school is not just about the child but the child's entire family and social context. Improved economic situations, child care services, cheap or free school expenses, better health services, and incentives like free lunches help children get educations just as much as access to schools.

      There are a ton of non-profits in Haiti working on the education issue. But, as I already discussed, simply building schools is not enough. They need resources to run and the other social conditions mentioned above also influence whether people can take advantage of them. Non-profits and NGOs that build structures without thinking about how the teachers, books, uniforms, school lunches, clean water, taxes, etc. will continue when the group moves on to their next project fail in their main goal. Often local politicians take them over and run them as a private school for the income with little concern over the quality of education. This is part of the reason why public schools, though they only make up about 10% of available institutions, often provide higher quality education. However, there are some promising developments on the education front and I'd like to mention a couple of them.

      First, President Martelly (elected in 2011) ran on a platform that promised free public school education to all children ages 6-12. Surprising as it may seem, he was the first president to promise this and it was a large part of why he was elected. To fund this initiative he institute two taxes: $1.50 on every international money transfer and 5 cents per minute for every international call. The taxes were to only be paid by the international participant so that it would not be a burden to locals. Remittances (money sent from families living outside the country) make up about 20% of Haiti's GDP or roughly $2.32 billion per year. His administration estimated they could raise about $8.5 million per month towards their education goals. Now the president does not actually have the legal power to levy taxes in Haiti and many Haitians at home and abroad were upset that he ignored law and instituted them without Parliament or the nation voting on them. However, enough people were willing to overlook the legality of the situation because they supported the end goal. The National Fund for Education continued to put away money while Parliament planned for how they would implement the free education scholarships. But six months after the plan was put in place, some serious concerns about the funds began to arise.

      The fund was not overseen by Parliament, but they estimated at that point it should have about $60 million. The head of the fund said their math was off and they only had $28 million. But the bank announced there was only somewhere between $5-2 million in the account. Parliament demanded an investigation as did the head of Digicel - one of the major cell phone companies and remittance transfer services that had to collect and process most of the taxes. Digicel claimed they had sent $20 million to the fund. It turned out that many of the school fees President Martelly had claimed were paid by the fund had been paid by the Clinton Foundation but many schools were still coming up short. Many teachers had not been paid their salary for months and were threatening to leave. As of writing this blog the missing money is still not accounted for and no one has a solid accounting of how much is supposed to be in there in the first place. In all, it seems like a dismal failure and one more example of President Martelly's corruption.

      So why then am I listing this initiative as a positive step? Well, in recognizing the President's failures other organizations and politicians have stepped up to try and rectify the problem. There are a number of politicians who are trying to resolve the corruption and legal problems plaguing the program. There have been numerous protests against President Martelly's mismanagement of the funds, but it is clear that the people overwhelmingly support the concept. After being promised free education for their children, the people expect it and have been very vocal about their demands for such a program going forward. It looks like even if President Martelly never fully delivers future politicians will have to at least make a show of trying to provide free schools. Other organizations like Partners in Health and the Clinton Foundation are investing heavily in local schools to help makeup for the lack of promised funds from the government. Partners in Health is also building a teaching hospital where they hope to train a wide range of medical professionals. But perhaps one of the most interesting projects actually comes from the for profit side. Digicel - the aforementioned cell phone company - is doing some very interesting things in Haiti and this is the second example that I would like to focus upon.

      Digicel is an Irish owned cell phone company that is incredibly popular and profitable in Haiti. Mobile phone access has drastically changed life in countries like Haiti. In 2005 only 5% of the country had cell coverage, but by 2009 95% of the country was covered. Some people in cities have land lines, but cell phones are much more popular and available in rural areas where land lines are not. Cell phones are relatively cheap and minutes can be purchased from vendors on the streets in whatever increments people can afford. Today, Digicel has about 4.8 million subscribers and Natcom has about 500,000 (overall population is about 9.7 million). However, these numbers are a little misleading because couples, families, and even friends often share a cell phone meaning that many more have access to one.

      Cell phones allow families and friends to stay in touch over distances in ways they couldn't before - whether that is someone going to the city for work, to the Dominican Republic to work in the sugar cane fields, or the the US. Like I discussed before, networks and relationships are incredibly important in Haiti as safety nets and for getting things done. Begging for charity is shameful in part because it indicates you don't have "people" i.e. you are not likable enough to have built up networks that would have prevented the need for begging. Cell phones may also be changing relationships within families because it allows fathers - who often leave for work - the ability to stay in touch with their children. Men often have photos of their kids on their phones and eagerly share their joy at being fathers with others through these pictures. Cell phones also allow rural communities the ability to stay in touch with urban populations and keep up to date on issues of politics, economy, and social changes that may not be covered in radio broadcasts. For example, coffee growers in the mountains used to be dependent upon middle men who would meet them at the base of the mountain and purchase the coffee to be sold in the city. Growers had to rely upon the middle men to tell them market price and were often shafted. But now they can call a cousin in Port au Prince to find out market price and this gives them the power to negotiate. More recently, the Bill and Meinda Gates Foundation  funded a program for Haitians to be able to use their cell phones like bank accounts since 90% of the population does not (and cannot) use banks. People can transfer money to other users and store money like an account. They can then take their phone to a Digicel store and get their money.  Adoption of the cell phone bank account has been slow, but the project is interesting because it allows poor Haitians access to services normally denied to them. Additionally, Digicel and other cell phone companies send out free texts to cell phones warning subscribers whenever a hurricane or other issue arises.

      All of this is to say that cell phones are great and it is good that Haitians have them now. But the educational possibilities come from the non-profit arm of Digicel. The company's billionaire chairman Denis O'Brien has made it a personal mission to improve the life of Haitians. O'Brien has also recognized that education is a major problem that the government seems unable or unwilling to tackle. So far Digicel has built 75 schools and plans to build 75 more. Some of these replace ones destroyed in the earthquake and others are aimed at reaching children in rural areas that never previously had access to education. They also have a teacher training program that plans to train 600 teachers over the next three years. The foundation also pays the salaries for the teachers and many other costs so that families only have to cover about $10 in fees for a school year - a huge savings from the national average of $109 a year. Additionally, they arrange for school lunches and vaccinations for students to be provided by other organizations.

      But more than just focusing on schools, O'Brien's foundation has recognized what I discussed earlier - increasing education of the populace requires improving the lives of the childrens' families and their ability to attend. Lack of education and its solution do not exist in a vacuum  Rather, we have to acknowledge that they are embedded in complex contexts that are all interconnected. To this end his organization has also rebuilt a historic landmark and site of trade in Port-au-Prince called the Iron Market after it was destroyed in the earthquake. Digicel installed street signs in the capital, providing prosthetic limbs for those who lost theirs in the earthquake, and hosted entrepreneurship galas for local businesses.  The foundation is investing in tourism and broke ground for the first Marriott in Haiti, moved the company's call center to Haiti to create more jobs, and their buildings allow both the mayor of Port-au-Prince and the Red Cross free offices. They are building clean water pumps, building temporary and permanent housing for people still in tents (which are now breaking down), and sponsoring the special olympics in Haiti. They also started a pilot Youth Enterprise School in Fondwa that teaches teens and younger adults business skills, financial knowledge, literacy, and skills for careers. The school also breeds animals and grows crops to generate revenue and encourage production of local food (currently most eggs, chickens, and produce is imported.) If this school does well the foundation hopes to expand to other locations. I often run into adults who lament being unable to to move beyond their current situation because they lack the business and financial skills that could help them get ahead.

      There are some Haitians who are understandably wary of O'Brien. He is a billionaire with a mission meaning he has the money and clout to bypass the corruption and politics of the system. But it also means he isn't beholden to the system. So far his efforts have been pretty amazing and it is fascinating to see how well placed and informed spending of money can have huge payoffs. It is also heartening to see the good corporations can do in a time when big business seems like a bad word in America. Yet, I do sympathize with concerns about one man making decisions that are having such a huge impact in a country that is not his own. And it is undeniable that these efforts have made Digicel incredibly popular in Haiti and is good for business. However, for now he seems to be able to balance the practices that lead to good business on the one hand and his efforts to genuinely help the island on the other. The fact that if Haiti's economy and quality of life improves it will mean more subscribers and data use for Digicel should not automatically signal a problem. Businesses and lives can thrive in tandem.


      Tourism obviously falls under the heading of economy, but I've separated it out because there are specific programs and national goals for tourism that I'd like to discuss in depth. I've encountered a lot of negative articles and comments about Haiti's investment in the tourism industry suggesting that the nation is foolish to spend its money on hotels when so many other problems plague the country. And it is true that Haiti is very poor and has huge health, housing, education, and social problems. Yet, an improved economy that increases the standard of living across a broad range of the population can create opportunities for improving all of those categories. It is vital that efforts to improve Haiti's situation do not perpetuate the cycle of poverty by merely giving away free things or only treating one aspect of the complex situation as if it exists in isolation. Haitian President Martelly announced that tourism would be a major component of his plan to rebuild the Haitian economy. At first glance, many people do not think of Haiti as an ideal tourist destination. Yet, I would like to argue that President Martelly is not crazy to suggest tourism has a huge potential for the island and that it might be a much more positive and fruitful alternative to his other plan for economic growth: sweat shops.

      Haiti used to have a thriving tourism industry that was vitally important to their economy. This shouldn't be that surprising since the Dominican Republic - the other half of the island of Hispaniola - still has a very active and profitable tourism industry. Caribbean beaches, great music, beautiful art forms, good food, and a long unique history all made Haiti an attractive place to relax and to party. Which is exactly what people like Mick Jagger, Jackie O, Jimmy Buffet, and John Barrymore went there to do. The Clintons honeymooned in Haiti. Graham Greene sat in the Hotel Oloffson and was inspired by it to write The Comedians. Luxury hotels, nightclubs, bars, and cafes lined the streets of Port-au-Prince in the 1970s1 waiting for the 150,000 tourists to arrive yearly. 25,000 jobs depended on the tourism industry. The recession that hit America in the early 1980s turned that number to 100,000 by 1981. But it was AIDS that really killed tourism in Haiti.  Americans were terrified of AIDS and did not fully understand how it spread. Anyone suspected of carrying AIDS was ostracized. In 1982, the CDC named Haiti as one of the infamous 4-H Club. Overnight Haiti became synonymous with HIV/AIDS and Haitians in America suddenly couldn't sell their homes, lost their jobs, got kicked out of their churches, and lost friends. And Americans certainly didn't want to travel to an island full of potential carriers. By the end of 1982, only 10,000 Americans had traveled to Haiti. Hotels, restaurants, clubs, resorts, and activities began folding left and right. Throughout the 1990s, the political unrest made tourism undesirable and the earthquake in 2010 destroyed what little tourist industry had recovered. But oddly enough, the earthquake also created a space for many Americans to rediscover Haiti as a place of tourism.

      Many volunteers at various non-profit and NGO efforts in Haiti get a few days off every so often for relaxation and sanity. It is common for these groups to organize day trips to beaches, Bassin-Bleu, distilleries, historic sites, or areas to buy souvenirs. Though I've been cynical about the organizations themselves, many volunteers genuinely want to help and fall in love with Haiti while there. Tourism, therefore, is growing not only from the Americans who are stationed in Haiti for a short time but returning volunteers who would like to continue supporting the economy and share their experiences with friends and family. Also, many individuals who fled Haiti during the political upheavals, repressive regimes, and poor economy return frequently to visit family and enjoy the island. In 2011, tourism made up 4.4% of Haiti's GDP with projections for it to continue rising. In July 2011, President Martelly launched "Tourism Week," which aimed to bring attention to the different sites and attractions that might interest tourists. He has also pushed for preservation of historical sites like the Citadel, marketing campaigns, and building the infrastructure that will be needed to service tourists.

      Currently, it can be difficult to be a tourist in Haiti. Roads are bad, public transit is worse, and there are few resources for planning trips. There are tour services such as Tour Haiti, which I've had great experiences with, but their website is lacking and in French. Figuring out which area of Haiti a tourist would like to visit and what to do there is easier now that Trip Advisor has Haiti reviews, but deciding where to stay is still complicated. I've stayed in some amazing hotels in Haiti, but most do not have websites, phone numbers, or reviews online making it difficult to arrange reservations from abroad. And many hotels do not have the services and staff at the levels many Americans expect. While there are some tourists who like the adventure of a destination like Haiti, to really attract large numbers they will need to address these issues. Currently, there are efforts to improve roadways, the state built an airport in the beach community of Jacmel, they opened a hospitality school in the South thanks to the Clinton Bush Foundation, and have made arrangements with international agencies to create tour packages. Port-au-Prince just hosted an international Jazz Festival with some very well known New Orleans, Germany, France, and even Cameroon. Haiti's Minister of Tourism Stephanie Villedrouin has done an impressive job building up the services and attractions in Haiti as well as reaching out to the private sector to collaborate for investments. This has sometimes meant working with major hotel chains to give them incentives to build nice hotels.  Collaborative efforts between the private tourism sector, non-profits, and the government have at times come under heavy fire from news sites and popular web communities such as Reddit. Yet, if tourism is truly going to be a cornerstone of Haiti's economic development the government has to invest in it and encourage outside investment as well.

      Tourism in Haiti has a lot of potential if there is investment and encouragement from the government and private sector. Haiti might not be able to compete with all inclusive resorts that are identical in all but name to other such resorts around the Caribbean. However, the country's history, culture, and traditions could be huge tourist draws. Haiti was the first free black republic in the world. You can tour historic landmarks from the revolutionary period with magnificent views. Because of its history and isolation, Haiti has its own art, music, and dance forms. The language, religion, and many cultural traditions can be traced back to West African forms. Though Haitians paint most of the paintings you purchase in the Caribbean and Latin America (even if it says another country at the bottom), there are items only available in Haiti such as drapos, rum, metal drum art, carved pieces, and handmade dolls. You can go from hip jazz clubs and art galleries in Petionville to a lazy day at the beach in Cayes-Jacmel swimming in the ocean and eating grilled seafood caught that day. In the North, there are Saints festivals in the summer with church services for the saints in the morning, food and craft items sold during the day, bands playing live music in the evening, Vodou ceremonies all night long, and then repeat the next day. Or you can take a donkey ride up the mountains to see the ruins of Haiti's first and only King's caste Sans Souci and his fort the Citadel and enjoy the spectacular view. If tourism is pursued not in the vein of all inclusive copycat resorts but as a place with a unique history and culture that cannot be experienced anywhere else tourism could be a major part of Haiti's economic growth.  


      While Haiti still faces many serious obstacles, there are reasons to hope that things will improve. It will take a combined effort from the government, non-profits, and for-profit investments but it is possible. Above I've discussed just a few areas where there are promising developments in the areas of education, quality of life, economy, and environment. As these projects move forward it will be important to keep an eye on them and periodically reassess. But for now I have hope that the Haitian people will be better off in the years to come. If you have any questions or would like to discuss an issue in more depth, I welcome you to ask questions on the Reddit History of Ideas post. As usual, I've also incuded a photo album of pictures I have taken that are related to the topics discussed. You can view that photo album here

Thanks to everyone who has read all or part of my History of Ideas series of essays on Haiti. If you would like to continue the conversation you can PM me on Reddit or email me at I may periodically update this blog in the future with my musings about Haiti. 

Further Reading and Sources


Education & Economy

Sloand, Elizabeth, Bette Gebrian, and Nan Marie Astone. "Fathers’ Beliefs About Parenting and Fathers’ Clubs to Promote Child Health in Rural Haiti."Qualitative Health Research 22, no. 4 (2012): 488-498.

Martelly's Education Issues


Farmer, Paul. AIDS and Accusation: Haiti and the Geography of Blame. No. 33. University of California Press, 2006.

All photographs and essays are my own works. If you would like to reproduce this post whole or in part please contact me first. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

[HoI Course] Top Hats, Skeletons, and Zombies (Haiti Today 5/6)



    You can find the outline for the course here, a brief history of Haiti here, an introduction to Vodou here,  a discussion of daily life here, and an overview of NGOs and foreign intervention here. Please post all comments, requests, and questions in the Reddit post here rather than the blog. That way we can continue our discussion within the History of Ideas subreddit. I've also posted an album to accompany the post here so you can see how the dead and zombies are represented in Haiti. 

Top Hats, Skeletons, and Zombies
A Haiti Today Halloween Special 

    My original plan for this post was to talk about the future of Haiti. But I realized that since today is Halloween it would be much more fun and topical to talk about the spirits of the dead and zombies. We'll save the future of Haiti discussion next week. First, I will discuss the spirits of the dead, who have become part of New Orleans and even Hollywood popular culture as the skeleton wearing a top hat. Even James Bond got in on the theme with the film Live and Let Die. Then, I'll talk a little about the concept of souls in Vodou since All Saints Day and a big Vodou ceremony is coming up. And lastly, I'll tackle zombies in Haitian Vodou since they were the original source for all the zombies we see running around trick or treating today. So when your friends show up tonight in zombie outfits or share pictures on Facebook you can impress them all with your knowledge. I've also included a photo album of related pictures that you can browse here

Spirits of Death and the Dead

    We've talked a little already about the spirits of the ancestors and the lwa in my section introducing Vodou. But a brief recap might be useful. Ancestors are important actors in everyday life who deserve honor and feeding. They look after their family for generations or until they are reincarnated. The lwa are the living spirits that live in Ginen (Africa) but also animate the landscape around us. They form complex and life long relationships with humans where they expect to be honored and fed, but like the ancestors also look after their charges and can protect, heal, or punish. The lwa become extended but revered family members - called by terms of endearment such as father, mother, and cousin. Some humans even marry spirits. In the larger scheme of things, the beloved dead and lwa help retain balance and moral order. One such spirit we only briefly touched on before is Baron and the Ghede

    The lwa are grouped into different nations and families that share some personality traits and often have interpersonal relationships with one another. The Ghede make up a family of spirits of the dead. But they are not the ancestors who are taken care of and remembered by the surviving family. Rather, Ghede are the Unclaimed Dead who have no one to look after them. The Barons are the spirits of death who head this family and look after the Unclaimed Dead and our own spirits when we die. Since the Ghede are dead, they have no inhibitions because they exist beyond such earthly constrictions and concerns of punishment. They are loud naughty pranksters who dance sexually, drink heavily, and love a good party even if it isn't thrown for them. When they show up they like to wear the formal but moth eaten clothes of an undertaker such as a top hat, a tux, and a cane. They also like to wear dark sunglasses, smoke, and powder their faces white like a skeleton. Ghede love liquor spiced with the habanero peppers and have enormous appetites. They always speak the truth (why lie when there are no repercussions for blunt honesty?) and love a good joke. Sometimes their jokes touch on subjects that the living are too afraid to speak about such as mocking dangerous political figures. Since they are part of the cycle of death and rebirth, they are also tied to sex and its consequences - i.e. children. Sometimes you'll see Ghede with a purple penis at the tip of their staff and they love to dance the banda (a type of sexual dance) with members of the party. But since they also care about children, they are fierce protectors of those who haven't yet led a full life. 

    There are also endless individual Ghede within the larger Ghede family and as the social and political situations in Haiti change, new Ghede appear to reflect that. For example, the economic situation that favors women has spurred female Ghede to appear and the ever present Protestant Preacher (who really, really does not approve of Ghede's sexuality) has even become a Ghede. A Protestant Ghede preacher drinking copious amounts of alcohol, making dirty jokes, and grinding on the dance floor is a pretty interesting commentary on religion, life, and politics. Most families have their own Ghede that only show up to their parties and have a personal relationship with them. But everyone has Ghede since everyone dies, and they are important spirits in part because they purposefully occupy the space between. Living in the boundaries, they provide powerful defense, vengeance, and healing against outsiders. They also provide a psychological release for dealing with death, political and cultural oppression, and the stress of living up to social norms.    Beginning on All Saints Day, which is November 1st, Haitian communities will begin holding their yearly fet (ceremony) for Ghede. This is always one of the biggest ceremonies of the year since everyone has Ghede and a need to honor the dead. In Haiti, these fets will go on for days. In the diaspora (i.e. immigrant communities living abroad), they usually last from about 9 PM to 9 AM. The community I work with here in the States will hold theirs in the upcoming weeks. Last year, the goal was to begin around 7 PM but most Vodou ceremonies happen on Haitian Standard Time, meaning they happen when they happen. The priestess made her way down into the tightly packed basement around 9 PM to begin the opening prayers. The vast majority of the people packed into the basement were Haitian immigrants or children of immigrants, though there were a few white visitors, scholars, and initiates. The altar was loaded down with Ghede's favorite fish, Halloween decorations of skulls and skeletons, white run packed with habaneros, and fabrics in Ghede's colors of black and purple. Though Ghede was the main attraction, all Vodou ceremonies have to go through the order of lwa and honor them all with at least a brief song or prayer. But Vodou ceremonies are less formal than church, so that people were dancing, talking, singing, and laughing throughout. Finally, around 2 AM it was time for Ghede to make an appearance. The drums began the beat of the banda and the congregation began singing songs for Ghede. The first Ghede showed up quickly, taking one of the manbo by surprise. But there is no mistaking when Ghede shows up. The usually demure and stately priestess's body took on the mannerisms of the lwa as her body began moving to the beat of the drums and the congregants brought Ghede's accouterments. Donning the tux, hat, powder, and sunglasses Ghede grabbed his staff and liquor. He drank some of the habanero packed rum and then poured it into his eyes. The fact that the priestess's eyes did not water or turn red was proof of an authentic possession. Then Ghede began the process of bringing his brothers to the party. He pulled attendees aside to dance with him, often spinning them around and around until they became dizzy. In this moment of dizzy confusion, it is easy for other Ghede to push out the person self and take over the body. Soon a host of Ghede were running around the cramped basement making sexual comments, cracking jokes, and dancing. One Ghede came up to me and invited me to dance by offering the end of his cane. We each put an end of the staff between our knees so that we were bound by the cane as we danced together. Though I am a rather horrible dancer, Ghede smiled his approval of my dancing and shook my hand afterwards. Then he was on to the next attendee. After a while, they began greeting individuals and giving advice, healing, and congratulating or predicting pregnancies. Then the drums picked back up and the dancing began again with everyone joining in. The Ghede and Vodouisants danced and celebrated for hours, the living and the dead joined together and laughing at and with the world.

The Body and the Soul

    Haitian Vodou concepts of the body and soul are influenced by both West African beliefs and Catholicism. The physical body is merely a vehicle for the soul, a material thing that eventually dies and rots. The most important part of the body is the head, which is the seat of consciousness and the space where sight, hearing, smell, and taste all reside. All experience is filtered through the head. The physical and metaphysical self is expressed in the concepts of gwo bon anj and ti bon anj, which are similar to our ideas of the soul. The consciousness and personality (gwo bon anj) are tied to the physical body, which is animated by the ti bon anj. These three things: body, the gwo bon anj and the ti bon anj make up the trinity of the individual self. The animating soul is not active in influencing personality or choices - it is just the force that keeps the body living. You might call it the spark of life. For the body to continue operating, this animating soul is necessary. For the person to have thoughts, beliefs, and emotions, though, they need their gwo bon anj.

    During possession, the lwa displace the gwo bon anj and utilize the animated body. The possessed person cannot remember the experience, it is believed, because their gwo bon anj is not seated in the body and therefore is temporarily not connected to its actions. This same concept applies to the foods offered to the spirits and the dead. The nanm (soul) of the food is consumed by the spirits and ancestors even as the physical aspect of the food remains. Therefore, the trinity of body, animating soul, and personality soul can be separated at various points throughout life and then, of course, at death. After death, the gwo bon anj returns to Ginen (a heavenly Africa) and the ti bon anj lingers around the cemetery for a while since it no longer has a body to animate. It is the gwo bon anj that houses the ego, self, personality, and ethics of the person from life. A year and a day after death, Vodouisants can work to bring this soul back across the waters so that it can be an active and honored ancestor.

    People who are called to work with the lwa also have a met tet. The met tet is the ruler of the head, and the person has a very personal deep relationship and set of obligations to this lwa. During initiations, a ritual head washing opens the head to allow the met tet to permanently reside within the individual head. This spirit becomes part of the self, adding to the existing souls that makeup the complex of personhood. Though the conscious remains, unlike in possession, the spirit now has a direct line to the individual that allows them to interact in a much more direct manner. One spirit may have its foot in multiple doors, so to speak, thereby forming these bonds with many individuals so that the spirit can actively communicate with and guide them. Individuals are believed to grow along with this spirit, its influence guiding their maturity and development. Knowledge of an individual’s met tet is often protected because it may provide dangerous people with too much power, but close friends and relatives understand the individual in relation to their spirits. Therefore, in Haitian Vodou the concept of the self and personhood is made up of the body, the gwo bon anj, the ti bon anj, and the met tet (if applicable).

Zombies in Haitian Vodou

    Though few people are aware of it today, the original concept of zombies in pop culture came from Haitian Vodou. I'll get back to this at the end, but first I want to explain what zombies actually are within the religion because they are quite different from the rotting stumblers we see in movies and Halloween in America. Anthropologist Elizabeth McAlister argues that you cannot understand zombies without first understanding colonialism and slavery in Haiti. I've already discussed this in my section on history, but you'll recall that it was incredibly brutal even by chattel slavery standards. And that on the eve of the revolution up to 2/3 of slaves in Haiti had been born in Africa. Enslaved peoples dreamed of returning to Africa, so much so that some committed suicide on the way to Haiti and on the plantations in hopes that their souls would return to Ginen. Though the revolution instituted the first free black republic in the world, many people found themselves back working on plantations in poor conditions. Plantation labor has continued to be a reality for Haitians all the way up to the present. Many poor Haitian men today travel to the Dominican Republic where they work in near slavery conditions on sugar cane plantations. Other peasants work on farms owned by elites or US businesses. When poor families cannot support their children, they might send a daughter to live as a restavek with a well off family in the city. These children are often taken advantage of and rather than being given the opportunities of education that they were promised, they are trapped in these homes as servants. There are many cases of sexual abuse. During periods of political unrest, militias like the Tonton Macoutes sometimes grab local control and force people to do their bidding. Sweatshops run 24/7 and people work in dangerous conditions for very little pay for foreigners. Therefore, this legacy of slavery and exploitation of the poor and weak continues to be a running theme in Haiti. People dread the concept of slavery because of Haiti's history, because of the contemporary semi-slave conditions for many poor, and also because of the concept of zonbi

    Zonbi (zombies) can happen in one of two forms. The first is a spiritual zonbi. Since the ti bon anj lingers after death, it is vulnerable to being captured and used by sorcerers. In Haitian Vodou, houngans (priests) and manbos (priestesses) promise to keep a strict religious morality and do not practice with the left hand. This means that they can only bring justice, only work with a certain families and nations of lwa, and promise not to belong to secret societies. Justice in this sense refers to balance - if someone does something to you, you can return the curse or sent illness to return balance. There is nothing immoral about self defense and balance, but sending a curse without justification is dangerous. Secret societies, however, are more willing to work with the left hand, lwa, and magic that is dangerous. This doesn't mean that all secret society members are bad or do harm - just that they play with fire more than most. Though members of secret societies go through initiations and training too, they are usually considered sorcerers called boko. These sorcerers have the knowledge of how to capture the animating spirit after death and use it to do spiritual work.    The sorcerer goes to the cemetery where he or she may ask permission from the recently dead to use their ti bon anj. Sometimes this permission is not asked, depending on the kind of work that will be done. Either way, a few pieces of the skeleton, cemetery earth, money, and other ritual items are placed into a bottle that is then dressed in fabric and items related to the work the zonbi will do. Often one skull will provide enough energy for multiple zonbi bottles, so that the ti bon anj is splintered and set to goals specific to each bottle's owner. This practice is likely influenced by the Kongo nkisi. They might be aimed at healing, getting money, love relationships, work, or other desires. Each zonbi is crafted by the sorcerer for a specific person and purpose. The owner has an obligation to feed their zonbi, but they must be careful not to salt the food or else the zonbi might break loose. These zonbi become enslaved souls working tirelessly for their owners until the time when God calls them back. In this sense, it is a reenactment of the process of colonialism and slavery. But like colonialism in Haiti, the enslaved can rise up if mistreated too long. If the zonbi are not fed they will begin to feed on the life force of the owner, just as the Haitian slaves rose up and killed their masters.    Spiritual zonbi can also be sent to attack other people, and McAlister gives an example of such a case in her own fieldwork. A teenage boy was diagnosed as having a sent zonbi eating away at his life force because he had been secretly sold to a secret society. The local Vodou community had to come together to trick the zonbi and restore his health. Ghede Loray possessed a participants body in order to conduct the delicate procedure. The boy was buried up to his neck in dirt for a mock funeral. The zonbi was tricked into staying in the grave when the boy was lifted out and then trapped. The boy was free from the zonbi, but still needed to be bought back from the secret society to ensure his continued health and safety. So they took the boy to the cemetery where they negotiated with Baron to buy back the boy's soul and keep it safe until God determined his natural lifespan was up. Thus, a boy was tricked into slavery, an enslaved soul was sent to eat at his own, in turn the zonbi was tricked, and the boy was saved by getting a benevolent being to buy him instead. This idea of selling someone else's soul also shows up in related cultures. In New Orleans, the self proclaimed inventor of jazz Jelly Roll Morton claimed his godmother sold his soul to the devil (in Haiti spirits outside of the official Vodou pantheon are sometimes called devils) and that is why he was doomed to die young. 

    But there is also a second form of zonbi, which may be more familiar to avid movie fans. Zonbi ko kadav are somewhat controversial because everyone claims to know a person who knew a person who became one, but no one witnesses it directly. 1  Yet, the concept is still part of the popular idea of zonbi in Haiti and a powerful deterrent against serious moral transgressions. If someone does something that is so wrong and immoral that it completely fractures a family and community, the ultimate punishment of zonbi ko kadav might be meted out. When this happens, a sorcerer kicks out the gwo bon anj from the body leaving only the body and its animating force, the ti bon anj. Without the gwo bon anj the person has no self left - no personality, no hopes, no fears, no understanding of the world around him or her. Yet, the ti bon anj can be ordered by its master to do whatever he or she wishes. The body is then sold to a sugar cane plantation for money where it is worked night and day until it falls apart. 

    It is said that the first zonbi ko kadav was Jesus. Romans standing guard over his grave overheard the secret words that God used to raise Jesus from the dead. These Roman guards took this knowledge and used it for evil, passing down knowledge of its use through secret societies. In Haiti too, not every zonbi ko kadav is someone who committed an inexcusable wrong. Papa Doc, the horrific Haitian dictator, claimed to be a sorcerer and even dressed as Baron to scare people into submission. It is believed that political dissidents were turned into zonbi ko kadav as punishment. Papa Doc had 60,000 people killed but reserved the punishment of zonbi for his most dangerous opponents because it was so horrific. The body becomes a walking corpse for all society to see and fear lest they be made one too. Some believed that Papa Doc's Tonton Macoutes were zonbi ko kadav too because how else could you explain people who raped, tortured, and killed their former neighbors? 

Zonbi in Popular Culture

    So how did this concept of zonbi ko kadav turn into our walking dead of comic books and Hollywood? In 1932, Universal Studies released the horror movie White Zombie. If you're curious, you can watch the entire thing here. It was the first full-length feature film and stared the famous Bella Lugosi. The main plot was that a white plantation owner in Haiti falls in love with a woman engaged to marry someone else. He hires a sorcerer to win the woman's heart, but instead she is turned into a zonbi. I won't ruin the end in case anyone decides to watch it, but this was the first time most American audiences had ever heard of the concept. The US Marine occupation of Haiti at this same time fueled rumors and interest from letters that the marines wrote home. In fact, zonbi and cannibalism were part of the arguments for why the marines needed to intervene in the first place and justifications for staying there. In the 1940s, other zombie films were released that also shared the idea of loss of bodily control to another, Vodou drumming, and forced manual labor. 

    These early representations of zombies were highly influenced by the actual concept of zonbi, but they also reflected fears going on in America at the time: slavery to capitalism and the barbarism and backwardness of blacks. McAlister argues that ever since, zombies have been used to reflect contemporary fears. Over time, white Americans shifted their racist views and fears of black people, but this theme still appears in some representations of zombies. In 1968, Romero released Night of the Living Dead, which you can watch here. In this movie and the other two that make up the trilogy, issues of patriarchy, racism, traditional family units, consumerism, militarism, and the misuse of science are all addressed. From there, zombie movies took off and have become increasingly popular. And in each film, the cause and action of the zombies often reflects our fears. Today, it seems we fear science and epidemics. In the video game series Resident Evil, which began in 1996, horrific zombies and other mutations are created from a release of the T-virus by an evil corporation. In 28 Days Later the zombies are caused by scientists accidentally releasing a virus they created. In the Walking Dead comics and tv show the zombies are also caused by a viral epidemic that infects everyone. You could even argue that Joss Whedon's thankfully short lived Dollhouse series was a modern twist on a zombie theme. An evil company takes people, wipes their minds using technology, and implants their memory and personality with whatever their owner wants them to be. Unchecked capitalism and the misuse of science are issues that many Americans still worry about. Zombie films provide an outlet for exploring these fears and battling with them. Perhaps, in some ways, our own representations of zombies aren't that different from the role that zonbi play in Haiti. There too, they provide a way for Haitians to deal with the fears of past and present and symbolically take control over them. 

1 Ethnobotonist Wade Davis once claimed in his book The Serpent and the Rainbow to have found a scientific chemical explanation for this type of zonbi. But subsequent scientists have argued this argument makes no scientific sense and faced with overwhelming evidence in the contrary, Wade Davis recanted his argument. He is also ahistorical, seems to not fully understand Haitian culture and Vodou, has a number of methodology issues, and tends to make an argument about the whole with only anecdotal local evidence. In short, it is a poor ethnography and does not stand up to expert scrutiny. Davis is not a good reliable source about zombies or Vodou.

Further Reading: 

McAlister, Elizabeth A. 1995. “A Sorcerer’s Bottle: The Art of Magic in Haiti.” In Donald J. Cosentino, ed.
Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou, 305-321. Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History.

Pagano, David. 2008. “The Space of Apocalypse in Zombie Cinema.” In Shawn McIntosh and Marc
Leverette, eds. Zombie Culture: Autopsies of the Living Dead, 71-86. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.

Taussig, Michael. 1987. Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing.
Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

My own photos related to the topic:

All photos and text are original creations of the author. Please ask permission before using them. Thanks!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

[HoI Course] Foreign Intervention in Haiti: From the US to NGOs (Haiti Today 4/6)



You can find the outline for the course here, a brief history of Haiti here, an introduction to Vodou here, and a discussion of daily life here. Please post all comments, requests, and questions in the Reddit post rather than the blog. That way we can continue our discussion within the History of Ideas subreddit.

Foreign Intervention in Haiti
US, UN, and NGOs 

The goal of this post is to cover the different foreign influences in Haitian politics, government, infrastructure, and social services and the impact that it has had. The Haitian government is notorious for its corruption and inefficiencies, which is often the justification for outside involvement. Yet, they have also rarely had the recent opportunity to manage the country on their own. This post looks at the ways these outside influences and control have changed Haiti and how the Haitian people feel about it. 

US Interventions

          As you'll recall from the history section, foreign intervention in Haitian government, economy, social services, environment, and other aspects of the nation have been frequent. But the United States of America has had the heaviest hand in Haiti's government, social services, and policies and so it is worth discussing their role in Haiti's history and current situation. In 1915, the US began its 19 year occupation of Haiti where this foreign nation literally controlled all aspects of the Haitian government and maintained control of Haiti's foreign finances until 1947. While there, the US instituted a new constitution which allowed foreigners and foreign companies to legally hold land in Haiti. US companies bought up land in the countryside for large plantation farms. Conditions were poor and so was pay, so many peasants moved to the cities for new opportunities. Unfortunately, the centralization of uneducated poor Haitians in the cities resulted in few chances for work and serious problems with urban slums and all the problems that go along with them. During Papa Doc's reign he courted the US for cheap manufacturing jobs, which did briefly provide economic opportunities. But many of these jobs paid very, very little and working conditions were often unsafe. Sweatshops rarely provide opportunities to improve local situations - at best they allow very poor people to just barely subsist while making huge profits for corporations. I'll talk more about this later.

          Despite Papa and Baby Doc's brutal rule, the US had a close relationship at times with their government through economic investments and aid programs. This shouldn't be too surprising since the US was heavily involved in supporting dictators in other areas too at that time as part of an initiative to prevent communist governments and ensure the safety of US financial interests. In 1981, the USAID-World Bank worked together to create a new strategy of purposefully making the Haitian economy dependent upon the US. Part of this included encouraging farmers to produce cash crops so that 30% of arable land was shifted from growing food to growing items for export. However, cash crops are subject to fluctuations in price that are uncontrollable by local farmers and natural disasters such as hurricanes or droughts could easily wipe out a season's crops. It also meant a reduction in food grown for local consumption so that as the island's population grew, their food production was not able to keep up. In response to food shortages  and American farmer's needs, in 1986 the IMF with US backing required Haiti remove the 50% tariffs on imported food in order to get a loan thus allowing the US to send heavily subsidized US rice to Haiti. This rice was significantly cheaper than local rice, effectively putting local farmers out of business. It also shifted local cuisine from one where rice was only eaten a couple times a week to a staple, pushing out healthier foods like squash and greens. In 1990, Haiti still produced all of the rice it consumed and only imported 19% of its food. In 1994, the US pushed Aristide to remove even more trade restrictions. Today 75% of the rice comes from the US and 50% of its food is imported. In many cases, American brands of soda, chips, rice, flour, etc. are cheaper than locally produced options. Without much international interest in importing Haitian food goods and a poor market at home, it is very difficult for local farmers and producers to survive. In 2008 when rice prices soared all over the globe, Haitians were hit harder than most since they could no longer afford imported rice but did not produce enough locally. Many people starved. This is why in 2010, former President Bill Clinton publicly apologized for the subsidized rice policy put in place during his administration. While it helped US rice farmers, Clinton called it a devil's bargain and said, "I had to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did; nobody else." After the earthquake, Haiti was inundated with even more cheap and free food which while providing vital assistance immediately after the disaster it also served to destroy what economic opportunity farmers had left.   

          The rice program was not intended to harm local Haitians - rather policy makers thought it would be a win win where US farmers were subsidized and poor countries got cheap food. But it is a good example of how even well intended programs can create a domino effect of damage. Another good example is the Peligre Dam, which while it would have highly benefited many of the American owned farms it was also supposed to help the local people. In 1956, the US Army Corps of Engineers helped plan and a company from Texas built the Peligre Dam, which dammed a large river in Haiti to create hydroelectric power. However, to do this they flooded the so called bread basket of Haiti, which included the lands of many peasants who had to flee. They did not fully understand what the consequences of the dam would be and many only realized their situation within hours of their homes being completely under water.This hurt local food production, but also completely disrupted the lives of hundreds of farmers. Some set up on the sides of the mountains where erosion and soil quality were worse. When the US killed off all of their black creole pigs in response to fears about swine flu, already desperate people lost the last of their savings. Destitute, people went to the cities for more opportunities where they also engaged in romantic relationships with people. Back home, women formed relationships with men for financial support, especially with soldiers that had been brought in for the project. Some of these were intended to be long-term relationships (though the men often still had multiple partners) and some were one night exchanges. There were also acts of rape or situations where women felt they could not say no. These movements of people and sexual relationships didn't just create unwanted pregnancies, trauma, and break up of family units. It also spread something much, much worse in a manner much faster than it otherwise would have spread.

          HIV first came to Haiti via a traveler from Central Africa and was probably spread through the sex tourism trade around 1966. Around 1969, it was brought from Haiti to America where it was first spread through heterosexual relationships before taking root in more vulnerable populations such as the gay community. It took a decade before anyone noticed. In the early 1980s, doctors began reporting strange cancers, pneumonia, and autoimmune issues but it took years before the medical community really understood AIDs and how to treat it. But as part of their efforts they began to identify communities where the newly named AIDs was more prevalent. In 1982, the CDC listed four groups as risk factors for infection: homosexuals, hemophiliacs, heroin addicts, and Haitians. Haiti was blamed by the media and politicians alike with some prominent American figures even blaming voodoo rituals. Overnight, Haiti and Haitians became stigmatized as carriers of a disease that America was terrified about. Many people in the general public knew little about how AIDs was transmitted, so while it was sometimes seen as a punishment for immoral activities like drug use, homosexuality, and prostitution people were still afraid that just being near someone with AIDs could be enough for contamination.  Haitian-Americans couldn't sell their homes, find jobs, and their children were ostracized at schools. Back in Haiti, tourism dropped 80% in one year. Previously, tourism had been an important industry with famous people like Mick Jagger (lead singer of the Rolling Stones) spending their holiday there. But no one wanted to vacation in a place where the CDC said they might catch AIDs. Further political instability and growing poverty due to a number of factors further diminished Haiti's tourism industry even more. Today, organizations like Partners in Health have made important inroads for treating HIV patients and help preventing transmission. And most people recognize that HIV and AIDs are not the fault of the victim and cannot be caught through normal day to day interactions. Tourism is increasing both from Haitians returning home from abroad and internationals. But Haiti has a long way to go in solving the problems of AIDs, rural and urban poverty, and reviving its tourism industry.

          More recently, Wikileaks has provided an interesting and sobering insight into some of the other ways that the US and other international bodies have involved themselves in Haiti. For example, the US and other foreign governments forced elections even though they thought they were fraudulent because they did not want to see their democracy experiment fail. There were also admissions that the reason the US doesn't want Aristide to return is that it would be bad for US business. The US Ambassador called Haiti after the earthquake a gold rush for American business opportunities. And the cables also reveal that the US worked together with Hanes and Levis to ensure that minimum wage for their textile factory workers did not increase from $3 a day to $5 a day. Now, minimum wage increases usually do not improve life for the poor drastically because the economy quickly catches up. But the larger problem was that every other industry received the minimum wage increase so that textile workers' pay was kept artificially low. As the economy around them catches up to $5 a day as the norm, textile workers are left behind. According to recent studies done prior to the minimum wage increase, a family of one worker and two kids (remember that a mother and her children are the basic family unit in Haiti) needs $12.50 a day to meet basic needs. Therefore, even those who are able to take advantage of the minimum wage increase cannot meet their family's financial needs. The current Haitian President Martelly has welcomed factory jobs for Haiti, especially textile industries. In order to avoid the centralization issues of the past, the government set up free trade zones (which came from seizing farmer's land) in hopes that more rural factories will reduce pressures on the cities. But without living wages, slums still pop up near the factories and families rarely have enough to send their children to bed with full stomachs let alone get them an education. Though much of the American press touts these textile factory jobs as almost a charitable act by US businesses and the government, it is important to remember what these cables reveal - Haiti has almost no labor laws, their minimum wage is one of the lowest in the Americas and is fully competitive with China, and US officials have revealed their interest in taking advantage of Haiti's cheap labor. Building factories in Haiti is not about Haiti's best interest. It is about American business interests. These Wikileaks cables reveal that many of the US interventions in Haiti have been about protecting US financial interests more than helping the country. This shouldn't be surprising since governments are at heart about serving the interests of their nation over others. Even the Peace Corps is a soft propaganda program. But it is still disheartening.

United Nations: The MINUSTAH Mistake?

          The goals of the UN is supposed to be above some of the self serving acts we saw from the US towards Haiti. The UN works towards world peace, economic development, global security, and human rights. However, while the UN has achieved some admirable things in Haiti they have also left a path of destruction and fear. The goal of this section is to discuss why the UN is still in Haiti, what they've achieved, and why most Haitians want them to leave. Right after Aristide fled for the second time in 2004, the UN sent in 9,000 troops to ensure stability. There were legitimate concerns that one of the Duvalier era thugs would try to take control again and the vacuum of power was dangerous. UN resolution 1529 stated that, "Haiti constitutes a threat to international peace and security and to stability in the Caribbean." MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti) was created at the behest of the US, with the goals of stabilizing the government, ensuring democracy, and protecting human rights. However, Haitian democratic elections have been reestablished and the country is relatively stable and peaceful. Below you can see the very low murder rates in Haiti and compare them with nearby Caribbean nations. The goal of protecting human rights is also debatable considering the many human rights violations that UN workers have been accused of while in Haiti. The violence, rapes, cholera epidemic, and possible violation of the UN's own charter have led to many demonstrations by Haitians asking the UN to end its occupation. But so far it looks like the UN is staying put.

2010 UN Country Data
Murders per 100,000
Puerto Rico
Dominican Republic
*Note that murder rates do not include executions and other political violence and therefore is only a small part of the overall issue of stability and safety. 

          The UN did bring stability after Aristide's ouster, has provided social services, and has reduced the gang violence in slums like Cite Soleil. However, the means with which they did this were often violent and have made many Haitians scared of UN forces. Like many slums and shanty towns, Cite Soleil is often beyond the reach of the government and local gangs control the neighborhood. The UN identified these gangs as serious threats to the stability of the nation, despite their marginal influence beyond the neighborhood. To deal with this problem they sent in troops in armored cars to round up gang leaders. Since MINUSTAH troops are not from Haiti and very few speak the local language, they have little knowledge about the local gangs and how to discern thugs from innocent poor people who have no choice but to live in this neighborhood. This has often meant that locals get roughed up, large groups of people are rounded up to be sorted out later, and that when violence breaks out innocent people get hurt. Despite its stated purpose to combat gang violence, MINUSTAH usually goes into Cite Soleil in response to a political protest, even if it is peaceful. In 2006, after a large demonstration from Aristide supporters the UN did a sweep of the neighborhood that resulted in the deaths of at least thirty people, some of whom were women and children. Though the UN denies it, victims claim that the troops opened fire on unarmed civilians spraying crowds with bullets. Some also claim that the UN shot people from helicopters and dropped grenades. A declassified US Embassy cable from 2005, revealed that over a period of several hours MINUSTAH shot 22,000 bullets in Cite Soleil. The ambassador admits that given the shoddy construction of buildings in shanty towns it is likely that the bullets went through walls and hit people hiding inside. To date several such massacres have been attributed to the UN. Though these activities do sometimes pick off gang leaders, they also destroy lives, homes, livelihoods, and the trust of innocent people. You can watch an admittedly biased documentary about it here, though I warn you it contains very graphic images.

          In Port-au-Prince far removed from the slums, many people are terrified of UN soldiers. I even realized I had picked up on this fear and also made sure to give soldiers and wide berth on the streets and never took their photo or spoke to them. Part of this fear comes from the violent responses I discussed above. But there are other reasons that Haitians fear the UN. There are numerous accusations of rape, beatings, and even murder of people outside the slums. Many of the rape accusations are hard to prove and seem even harder to prosecute since it is ups to the individual countries of the soldiers to do so. But there are a few well documented cases that have galvanized Haitian anger against the UN. In 2005, three Pakistani UN soldiers gang raped a young girl. In 2007, Sri Lanka recalled more than 100 of its troops after accusations that they raped and abused Haitian women and children. In 2010, a 16 year old boy was found hanging from a noose on a UN base in Okap. The UN did not release his body for 72 hours, but told the family the boy had hung himself even though the autopsy ruled out suicide. In 2011, MINUSTAH troops from Uruguay gang raped a teenage boy and one perpetrator filmed it on his cell phone and uploaded it to the internet. Though the boy flew to Uruguay to testify against them and the video was shown in court, the perpetrators were released after only being found guilty of bullying. In 2012, three Pakistani MINUSTAH soldiers were found guilty for also raping a mentally challenged teenage Haitian boy. Witnesses also claimed that after the crime had been reported the Pakistani UN mission kidnapped the victim and held him on a MINUSTAH base to prevent further investigation. Pakistan gave the rapists one year in prison.

          In October of 2010, a photo began making the rounds on the internet reportedly showing a UN truck dumping sewage into a Haitian river that people used for cooking, drinking, and bathing. Just a month before had been the first reported case of cholera in Haiti in over one hundred years. The disease was spreading fast and without quick treatment an infected person can die within one day. Clean water was difficult to access even before the earthquake and medicine very expensive if available. Haitians blamed the UN for bringing the disease to the island, but initially the UN denied any connection. However, forensic studies on the strain of cholera revealed it came from Nepal and most likely from the Nepalese UN troops at the Mirabalais camp. Some Haitians have filed a class action lawsuit against the UN for negligence in addition to demands that the UN work to install clean water filters around the island to end the epidemic they unintentionally started. To date over 500,000 have become sick and at least 7,500 people have died from cholera in Haiti. That is more cholera deaths in Haiti than the entire continent of Africa combined. This past summer aid organizations were able to vaccinate 100,000 Haitians from vulnerable populations. Hopefully, this project along with clean water projects will greatly reduce the impact of cholera on the island.

          These well publicized events have influenced many Haitians to feel negatively about the continued UN presence in their country. Many liken it to the 18 year US occupation, especially since MINUSTAH troops tend to send a violent message whenever local people protest over political issues that are unpopular with the US. As the Wikileaks cables reveal, the UN has also played a large role in directing Haitian politics and preventing the election of anyone from Aristide's political party. President "Sweet Mickey" Martelly (whom the UN helped get elected despite his former association with the Tonton Macoutes) says he does not want the UN to leave. However, the continued public demonstrations against the UN occupation suggest that his view is not popular with the masses. Regardless of your own personal views about the UN's presence in Haiti, it seems unlikely that the country will attain peace and stability as long as the main enforcers belong to a group that the people do not trust or respect.

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Their Role in Haiti

          Given the corruption of the government, the numerous problems with US aid intervention, and the violence from UN soldiers many people have turned to non-profits and NGOs to solve Haiti's many problems. The hope is that without a political agenda, organizations unaffiliated with any government agency can focus on humanitarian aid alone. The presence of such organizations has led to Haiti's nickname "The Republic of NGOs" and has unfortunately been well-earned for a couple of reasons. First, there are literally hundreds of groups in Haiti at the moment working on a variety of issues all over the country. You can see a map of a few of the official organizations here, though it is important to recognize that there are hundreds more church groups and small organizations that continually come in and out of Haiti to work on short-term projects. Official numbers of NGOs in Haiti even before the earthquake range from 3,000 to 10,000. Second, much of the population depends upon NGOs for services like healthcare, education, clean water, etc. more than its own government. Likewise, the government sees no reason to waste tax money providing services that are already provided by NGOs. NGOs in Haiti are a mix of successes and failures, with perhaps more negative examples than positive. You can read about the specific failures of NGOs below and then in detail in some of the books I suggest. However, Haiti provides a kind of microcosm of the problems with aid and NGOs all over the globe so I want to take a moment to discuss some of the larger issues.

          Though NGOs attempt to remove the political restrictions that government agendas have on nation-based aid giving, most NGOs are still beholden to their country of origin and their donors. Government agencies and donors often remain central in planning and implementation decisions. These plans and goals are set outside of the local contexts of a community's needs, so that at times they do not reflect what people actually want and the methods implemented are unrealistic and ineffective. Due to the realities of a home office outside of Haiti, there are usually multiple tiers within the NGO that allow for satellite offices and intermediaries. However, they also increase overhead spending, often include redundancies, and increase the odds of miscommunications. This bureaucracy also limits the ability of people on the ground to make substantive changes to the goals or methods of the project even if they see that they are being ineffective. The top down approach of most NGOs silences the voices of the very people they are trying to raise up. These processes are part of what some scholars consider the neocolonialism of aid and NGOs. Rather than working alongside local people to solve problems, NGOs and aid programs often treat local people as the problem. NGOs justify their presence by arguing that locals cannot manage their own situation and require an outside force to come in and take over. Part of solving the issue that the officials in the NGO and their donors have identified as the primary goal often includes reorienting communities towards the NGO home culture's own viewpoint. For example, rather than handing out condoms or examining reasons for multiple partners locals may just be chastised for promiscuity. But remaking a foreign culture into a model of your own does not necessarily solve the problem at hand and may inadvertently replicate the inequalities present in your own society. These communities also become dependent upon these outside forces, just like they did during colonialism, giving them immense power to sway local politics and creating devastating effects when the NGOs leave.

          The very problems that many NGOs set out to solve sometimes continue not only in spite of but because of NGO presence due to the local economy's reliance upon the NGO, problematic goals or implementation, and the fact that NGOs profit from having a continued issue to address. In Port-au-Prince, for example, apartments and business buildings are renting for sometimes triple what they cost prior to the earthquake. Even Haitians who have steady jobs are sometimes unable to move into more permanent housing because the aid organizations have rented most of them and those that remain are now out of  locals' price ranges. In fact, some Haitians who were living in tent cities actually had homes that were untouched but they could rent them out to NGO workers for such high prices that it was worth staying in temporary housing a while longer. And why not? Not only could they save for the future when the NGO workers inevitably all run off to the next big disaster, but they could take advantage of the free food and education provided at some of the tent cities. The buying power of aid workers also meant that the local prices for food and other necessities sky rocketed. So NGO workers coming to address the tent city crisis intensified the pressures that kept people from moving out of tent cities, which of course provides more incentives for the heads of the NGO to say they should stay and demand more money from donors. There have even been accusations that aid organizations and NGOs have overestimated numbers of those living in tent cities and other issues to get more money. Though technically not government organizations, they often get large donations from governments who want to see proof of need. They also sensationalize suffering through photographs and stories, which opens pocketbooks for donations but closes them for vacations. When the NGOs do eventually leave the housing market will crash, Haitians will have difficulty finding local sources of food since they went out of business, and many people who relied on the NGOs for jobs will once again be out of work.

          It would be unfair, though, to categorize all NGOs in the same way. While inefficiencies and misused funds are often the story of NGOs in Haiti, some are improving. Many have realized the errors of the past and are making efforts to work with rather than in spite of local people and to incorporate local contexts and concerns into their plans. However, even the most well intentioned NGOs can sometimes fall back into this framework. After studying aid and NGOs in Haiti and the larger global scene, I have four main points where non-profits and NGOs tend to fail. First, there is the patchwork effect where the NGO takes a very narrow approach to solving a specific localized issue. Second, there are redundant and overlapping services. Third, there is a failure of communication both with other NGOs and the local people they want to serve. And fourth, they do not appropriately plan for the future and rarely have a sound exit strategy. These points are worth going into more detail about.

The Patchwork Effect: Many NGOs go in with a specific solution and look for a location where it might be useful. For example, they might want to solve clean water problems and use a new filtration system. They will find a community in need and spend a summer installing filtration systems for local people. There is nothing wrong with this, but one city or even neighborhood over people might not be able to benefit. You can examine the map I linked earlier and see that this is the case all over the country. For example, Asile has health care, but no other NGO help. Nearby San Luis de Sud has a school with a free lunch program, but no health care. Another nearby community Petit Trou De Nippes has a few health care providers, two housing projects, and a sanitation project but no education. Yet these communities could all use health care, education, and housing projects. Without stepping back to see the bigger picture the NGO's successes will be very localized and limited and there will be large disparities in services between communities. Reaching horizontally to work with other related NGOs can help solve this problem even if the NGO in question is too small or funds limited to have a broader individual impact.

Redundant and Overlapping Services: Since NGOs often go in with a preconceived idea of what services they will provide, they may not take into account what other projects are already providing those services. Though some large urban centers may be populous enough to warrant multiple organizations providing the same thing, most rural areas are not. The narrow blinders on approach that creates the patchwork effect also allows for redundancies and overlaps. For example, a couple years ago my cousin was in Gonaives with a relatively new NGO that had first come to Haiti after the earthquake. One of their major projects was to build a school, which they had discussed with a local politician. One day on his way to the job site my cousin ran into someone from an older NGO. After talking they discovered that their NGOs were each building a school on the same block with permission from the same politician. They did sit down with that politician and explain only one school would be built. But by then both organizations had wasted a lot of time, money, and people on a redundant project. Their resources could have been much better served working on something else that was not being addressed. To be fair, they got swindled by a local politician who likely wanted to make money by turning at least one of them into a private school. But these kinds of overlaps are frequent, even without corrupt politicians intervening.

Failure to Communicate: The redundancies could be eliminated if organizations were better at communicating with one another and coordinating horizontally rather than just approaching the situation vertically. Linking organizations with similar goals can allow for more effective services and sharing of resources, which cuts down overhead and can actually open up larger granting opportunities. But NGOs also need to communicate with the people they are servicing not only when planning their program but at regular intervals after it begins to ensure they are still being effective and relevant. Organizations also need to be willing to adjust their methods or even goals if necessary. Failure to do this often results in ineffective aid that at best does little good and at worst can harm communities. For example, many public health HIV prevention programs in Haiti have the goal of going into a community and teaching them about AIDs how to prevent its spread. Often local people are trained as educators who then hold classes for their community. Afterwards, participants are surveyed about their knowledge and the results are turned into pretty graphs and charts to prove the organization's efficacy to donors. However, when anthropologists later go in and ask the course participants if they plan to be abstinent or use condoms in the future the answer is almost always no. Abstinence only education fails in Haiti for many of the same reasons that it fails in the US. But condoms are rarely an option either because NGOs do not give them out or do not give out enough. Condoms in Haiti are very expensive if you can even find them for sale. Additionally, women feel uncomfortable demanding their partners use them and men dislike the feel. Children are also incredibly important, while steady male partners are not the norm. So women are not necessarily looking for a monogamous partner to have a child with. And lastly, rape and forced prostitution are sadly common and condoms are clearly not options in such situations. But despite all of these problems, many public health NGOs return to the states and report success to their donors. Another example is CARE, who stepped in to help out with anticipated famine from a drought in the 1990s. They got the funding from USAID and began handing out food aid to farmers and fishermen. But six months after the drought ended they continued giving out free food. In fact, they did it for two years, which completely destroyed local food production. If they had bothered to reassess they could have directed that money somewhere else that would be more effective.

Failure to plan for the future: Many non-profits and NGOs operate grant to mouth. They depend entirely upon on or two grants with no other major sources of funding and no contingency plans for if they fail to get the grant one year. This has happened to many NGOs since grant funds have been drying up recently. Communities become dependent upon the services that NGOs promise to deliver, so even a year without a program can be devastating. Sometimes the grant money runs out and never comes back or the mission of the NGO refocuses on a different region. Organizations give up and move on to the next project, but locals are left to deal with the aftermath. NGOs also often fail to plan adequately for how the project will continue getting the funds they need once they leave. Building a school or a hospital is great, but more goes into running one than just the construction and initial start-up costs. These facilities continue to need supplies, trained paid professionals, electricity, clean water, to pass government inspections, etc. Without a viable plan for how they will obtain the funds for these things locals are often unable to actually see the plan through past a year or two.  Haiti is littered with half built schools, abandoned NGO offices, and communities who once depended upon NGO services but are now struggling. Some NGOs do not even think about how to appropriately pull out and do so suddenly, which does not give local communities time to plan for life without their services. For example, NGOs are pulling out of tent cities and without the free clean water the water quality for these communities is quickly diminishing. Considering the cholera epidemic, this is a serious issue. But Haitians have become understandably jaded by NGOs and many just try to milk the cow for all it is worth now because they know it won't be there in the future. This is bad for both the NGO and the local people. Irresponsible aid is dangerous and harmful to the very communities that such NGOs claim they want to help. If a NGO actually wants to make a long-term difference for a community they have to plan for both how they are going to complete their immediate goals and how to transition out so that communities can be self sufficient.

          Though there are certainly other issues to examine when determining efficacy of aid and NGO programs, these four pieces are useful tools for analysis. Yet even using these sometimes the sheer number of NGOs in Haiti is just too overwhelming. Picking a good non-profit or NGO to donate to can be daunting if you care about making sure your money goes towards a good cause that is handled responsibly. The more I learn about the damage bad aid can do to a community, the more discerning I've become with how and where I donate. But it can take a lot of work to figure out not only if an organization is worth donating to but to trace back their affiliations. For example, the FEED project sells burlap bags to raise money to feed hungry children and they have an arm dedicated specifically to Haiti. But they don't actually directly use this money for food programs. Instead, they give it to the World Food Program (WFP), which is a program of the UN. Setting aside my dislike of how the UN has handled itself in Haiti, I previously would never have supported FEED because WFP did not use local food sources. Dumping free food on a community destroys local economies and jobs. A program that feeds the kids for a day but puts their parents permanently out of work it isn't a good solution. But recently WFP has begun getting dairy and rice from local farmers rather than importing it. So they are now on my maybe list, though I would like to see even less imported for their program. But I am glad that they have listened to criticisms and adjusted their approach appropriately. The main issue will be planning for the future since families are now dependent upon.

          While it would be impossible to go through every one of the thousands of NGOs and evaluate them here, I do think it is worthwhile mentioning a few others. The first two have been in the news both right around the earthquake and recently. The last you might not have heard of before, but it has an interesting approach that bodes well for the future of aid programs.

Yele Haiti: Started by Haitian-American musician Wyclef Jean in 2005, this non-profit was initially quite small. Up until the earthquake, Yele Haiti only had $37,000 in assets and mostly provided services through intermediaries. For example, they gave scholarships to poor students to attend a local school that Yele Haiti was not directly affiliated with. In 2009, they also worked with the Timberland Company to raise environmental awareness in Haiti. None of their pre-earthquake activities involved healthcare, emergency services, housing, water, etc. In fact, they were already in financial trouble for failing to report spending to the IRS and accused of shady manipulations of donations. A forensic audit reported that between 2005-2009 $265,580 was improperly funneled to Wyclef Jean and his friends.Yet, when the earthquake hit Wyclef Jean was very vocal about his charity's ability to help and Yele Haiti received $16 million in donations.  Only $5.1 million of that went towards relief efforts, and even then the organization gave contracts to Jean's relatives for projects that were not all completed. He paid himself $100,000 for performing at his own charity's event, and later canceled another performance because Yele Haiti could not cover his fee. He hired his own mistress who had no qualifications. A Florida firm was paid over $1,000,000 for food distribution but there are no records of the firm ever existing. Money was spent all over the place, but rarely was it spent smartly. The New York attorney general's office still has an active investigation into the non-profit, but after Wyclef Jean declined to settle Yele Haiti was officially shut down.
          Yele Haiti fails on many accounts, especially since Wyclef Jean and the other board members mismanaged funds and were not transparent about how money was spent. That alone should be enough to disqualify any non-profit from being a good place to donate. But, even before all of this damning information came out it was clear that Yele Haiti was a poor non-profit choice because it also fails many of my points above. They focused on a seemingly random selection of activities without coordinating well with other non-profits or existing programs. So they tried to build schools, hospitals, job programs, food programs, houses, water, etc. all over the region in very localized spaces but without linking them together into a bigger vision. They also did not communicate with local people about what was really desired or needed so that their $5 million job programs just consisted of hiring people to clean sidewalks that were dirty again within a day. They also failed to plan for how they would actually carry out these programs and had no exit strategy. Before Yele Haiti even closed down, it left behind a string of unfinished projects. Some examples are $93,000 for temporary homes that were never built, $146,000 for a hospital that wasn't finished, and $230,000 for a revitalization of a plaza that was never completed. An orphanage that had become dependent upon $3,000 Yele Haiti gave them a month for food had to scramble when the stipend was unexpectedly cut off. Failure to plan meant not only a scandal for the non-profit but real world damage to vulnerable populations. You can read more about Yele Haiti's failures in this New York Times piece here.

Partners in Health: By far, Partners in Health is the most respected non-profit in Haiti and where most scholars and Haitians alike suggest you donate your money. Paul Farmer, who has a medical degree and a PhD in medical anthropology, founded PIH in the central plateau of Haiti in 1987. Since then they've expanded to eight other sites within Haiti and five other countries. Paul Farmer pioneered the approach to treating drug-resistant tuberculosis that WHO recommends today. PIH's approach works closely with local people, takes into account impediments to successful treatment, and works to develop methods of implementation that are realistic, cost-efficient, and work within those cultures. Most of the paid workers in Haiti are Haitians, and they are committed to training them rather than keeping locals in only low level positions. They coordinate medical services with other organizations and work across multiple regions. They also try to address the many levels of issues that can prevent adequate care for the poor - lobbying politicians, working with pharmaceutical companies, coordinating with other health organizations, and developing ways to get care and medicine to people in rural areas. Some critics have said that Paul Farmer is too idealistic and while his call for healthcare as a human right is admirable, he provides few practical ways to enforce it. In the beginning, PIH also had funding issues in the beginning, but now they are large enough that their existence is relatively stable. For all of these reasons, charity review sites like Charity Navigator rate PIH very highly.
          However, PIH is not perfect. After the huge influx of money from earthquake donations, PIH set up a number of new projects. Since that burst of money has not been sustained, PIH is now trying to figure out how to scale back. For their fiscal year 2011, all of PIH had a deficit of $27,000,000 largely due to grants made to partner organizations after the earthquake. But utilizing the surplus from 2009 along with predicted donations and smart investments should make this up. PIH also does not have an exit strategy, but this is because they plan to stay indefinitely. The Haitian government has come to rely on their services some critics have questioned whether it is best to remove healthcare from government and private businesses. But these hospitals and clinics do provide training and long-term job opportunities for many Haitians. More concerning is the recent report about how PIH has been in a turf war over peanut butter factories. In 2003, Meds and Foods for Kids (MFK) began using local peanut butter sources to develop a nutritional paste. After learning all about it from the MFK founders in 2006, PIH started their own peanut butter paste program. Meanwhile, MFK started a factory with UNICEF money so that everything needed for the nutritional paste could be produced in Haiti using Haitian peanuts and workers. Now PIH is building its own even bigger peanut butter paste factory. The problem is that there aren't enough peanuts grown locally for both factories and not enough demand for that much nutritional paste. This kind of redundant overlapping project does nothing to help people locally and just directs money away from other places where it could be spent.

Prosperity Candles: This young non-profit takes an entirely different approach that is interesting and worth investigating. They actually began in Iraq in 2008, where they began working with local women to teach them how to make candles and then provided a platform for them to sell the candles to an international market. They partnered with a local more established Iraq non-profit and worked with local concerns. Listening to the women they wanted to help, they arranged for them to do this work in their own homes since women's mobility is limited. Women were also trained not only how to make the candles but how to teach the skill to others and given basic business instruction so they could be entrepreneurs on their own. After the earthquake, Prosperity Candles began their plans to come to Haiti and established a candle factory in one of the industrial parks in the North. I recently sat down with one of the women who is highly involved in the Haiti arm of their project and I was impressed with their foresight and plans. The have now traveled to Haiti a few times and worked with local existing non-profits and community leaders to develop a plan of action that would adapt their models used elsewhere to local concerns and needs. Unlike in Iraq, women in Haiti move about freely so a factory made more sense. It also increased the prestige of working there because the job would be considered steady work (travay) unlike craft items made out of the home. They have a clear exit strategy where they want to train the women in candle making and business skills so that they can slowly hand over the business to the women. At the end of their project the women will fully own the business and be able to run it completely on their own and have all profits gained through selling their candles, while still providing the platform to sell them. They recognize the problem for many women of leaving their children behind to go to work, so they are arranging for flexible working schedules and investigating options for child care. While their goals are very localized, they are reaching out to nearby non-profits that focus on women and families to coordinate. And they are trying to use local beeswax rather than importing it. They are young and their Haiti project just getting under way so we will have to wait before we can evaluate their lasting impact and effectiveness. But their commitment to local input, working with other non-profits, and a strong exit strategy look promising.


Hopefully this discussion has helped make sense of the frustration and protests against foreign presence in Haiti. Many Redditors have been involved with non-profits either directly as volunteers or just through donating funds. US Redditors also have their tax money used on many of these projects in Haiti and elsewhere. Therefore, I hope you'll find this discussion useful not only for understanding Haiti but for being a better informed citizen and donor. If you have any questions or want to discuss a topic, please post your comments in the reddit thread here. I have also put together an album of relevant photos I have taken that you can view here. If you would like to do your own research on these topics I have included some suggestions below. Thanks for reading!

Further Reading

Crewe, Emma and Elizabeth Harrison
1998 Whose Development? An ethnography of aid. University of Michigan Press

Farmer, Paul
2003 Pathologies of Power:Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor. University of California Press. 

Farmer, Paul
2005 The Uses of Haiti Updated Edition. Common Courage Press.

Farmer, Paul
2006 AIDS and Accusation: Haiti and the Geography of Blame. University of California Press.

Schuller, Mark 
2012 Killing with Kindness. Rutgers University Press. 

Schwartz, Timothy T.
2008 Travesty in Haiti: A True Account of Christian Missions, Orphanages, Fraud, Food Aid and Drug Trafficking. Charleston, South Carolina: BookSurge Publishing.