HAITI: Solidarity with Haiti

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Late in the afternoon of January 12, 2010, Equitas staff members were on the phone with partners in Haiti planning a training session when the earthquake hit. The meeting came to an abrupt end as our partners scrambled to get out of their building. Attempts to reach them afterwards were unsuccessful, until a short text message arrived a few hours later: “C’est terrible”. Since then, Equitas staff has visited Haiti to consult with our partners and explore how we might support their efforts in building a new, more equitable Haiti, less vulnerable to man-made and natural disasters. These discussions highlighted that decades, if not centuries, of exclusion – a man-made disaster – had contributed significantly to the scale of destruction and death caused by a natural phenomenon. Our partners in Haiti came to the conclusion that they must concentrate on building an active and engaged citizenry. They are working now with Equitas to create space for dialogue and exchange and to carry out human rights education activities that will reinforce human rights values and encourage changes in behaviour that will contribute to important changes over the longer term while responding to the immediate concerns of people, such as trauma counselling, conflict resolution and meeting basic needs. If Haitians are to be protected in the future, people must be given a voice. In the short term, this effort will address some of the challenges being experienced by people displaced by the quake. And, over the long term, effective human rights education will remain an essential ingredient in building a new and more democratic Haiti out of the rubble.

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