Teach Haitians to help themselves

Published 9:25 pm Monday, November 11, 2013

By Joseph L. Bass

It is common to read articles about the poor people of Haiti in newspapers, church publications, non-profit publications and so on.

These articles often follow the same theme. A person or group goes to Haiti to help the many poor people, reporting on the awful conditions and what the person or group did to help. What I am waiting for is a report on what rich Haitians are doing or not doing that maintains the status quo in that nation’s economy and government. There is never any discussion about why the awful conditions exist for the many poor people or what conditions exists for the rich Haitians. In fact there is never a mention of the fact that there are rich Haitians. But of course there are.


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The president of Haiti from 1971 to 1986, Jean-Claude Duvalier, spent $3 million on his own wedding and was accused of looting millions from the Haitian treasury when he sought exile in France following his overthrow. Today it is reported he lives in luxury in Haiti without any visible means of support. Where is all that money coming from? What economic and political powers exist to continue to support luxury for a few rich Haitians while millions live in extreme poverty?

Why are so many Haitians poor, uneducated, undernourished, unhealthy and living in squalor? If we took all the poor Haitians and moved them to the United States would they continue to live the same way as they live now? Of course, they would not.

In fact, many Haitians have come here illegally and have taken advantage of the opportunities found in America, improving themselves far above what they could accomplish in Haiti. Certainly if we moved all the poor Haitians here, they would take advantage of the available opportunities to better themselves.

If we took an equal number of Americans and moved them to Haiti, would they start living like the poor Haitians live now? Of course, they would not. They would not put up with the economic and political oppression found in Haiti.

This is why the rich Haitians do not spend money on education and other activities that would improve the capabilities of the poor. This is much like the laws that made it illegal to teach black slaves to read in the American South. Educated people will not put up with economic and political oppression. The best way for the rich Haitians to maintain their political and economic control is to not spend public funds on educating the poor.

Far too many Americans are only interested in doing for other people, instead of figuring out how we can support efforts for the poor to learn how to help themselves.

Joseph L. Bass, Ed.D., is the executive director of ABetterSociety.Info Inc., a nonprofit organization in Hobson, Virginia. Email him at ABetterSociety1@aol.com.