The world has been rightly focused on providing basic necessities to survivors of the earthquake in Haiti. The lesson from Katrina is that swift humanitarian aid is critical. But we also learned that quickly charting a sound economic recovery is important.
Tomorrow, I leave for Port Au Prince because I believe that even as the rubble is being cleared away, now is the time to begin focusing on self-sustaining economic growth. I have decided to temporarily leave my home and son in the suburbs of Atlanta, because I know that permanent economic stability in Haiti is possible.
Haiti did not earn the distinction of being the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere over night. It took decades of a turbulent political history and millions of dollars in global aid that did little more than put a band-aid on a bullet wound. If anything positive rises from the ashes in Haiti, it must be a global community willing to support more than feel good humanitarian efforts. The tens of millions of dollars in emergency food aid that the U.S. and other nations have contributed to Haiti over the last decade was only a temporary solution to a much deeper problem.
Global aid must include tangible-legitimate-effective-results-driven support that tackles the key issues causing Haiti to take last place in the global economy. Soil erosion in an agrarian society, illiteracy and lack of education and below standard healthcare system must all be addressed for Haiti to move into economic stability.
I will join a small delegation led by the Red Cross and Joe Beasley a leader at Antioch Baptist Church in Atlanta. Our goal is to help local Haitian organizations rebuild an orphanage, a school and a health clinic that was started by the church 12 years ago. These facilities once provided essential academic and medical support to Tapeo a community of about 8,000 residents just outside of Port Au Prince.
We have committed to rebuilding these vital institutions in partnership with Haitian organizations not on behalf of Haitian organizations. The best chance that Haitians have at a prosperous economic future is relying on their own strength and not fleeting foreign aid.