Together We Are Strong

Watch a New Video on the work of the Aristide Foundation since the

January, 2010 Earthquake Together We Are Strong

A Democratic Debate in the auditorium of the AFD, photo Paul Burke

While the international press on Haiti has been abuzz with stories about Haiti’s upcoming Presidential elections, there is not much enthusiasm on the ground, where over a million and half people are still living in tents settlements across Port-au-Prince and the other areas hit hard by the quake.

Nearly every Saturday the Aristide Foundation holds a democratic debate were ordinary Haitians can gather and voice their views.  These gatherings continue to draw participants from across the metropolitan area, the majority of whom are living under tents.  What we hear from those coming to the AFD is disinterest in elections from which the largest political party in the country Famni Lavalas has been excluded, anger at the recovery process which has made almost no visible signs of progress in over 7 months and which offers no role for the majority of Haitians to participate, and a sustained call for the return of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his family to his country.

For a full analysis of the political situation please see  Haiti Elections: Unfair  and Undemocratic by Ira Kurzban (Miami Herald September 8, 2010).  To support Haitians call for the return of President Aristide add your name to this petition.

As we enter the eighth month since the quake the Foundation has begun to switch gears from the immediate relief efforts (mobile schools and mobile clinics)  which we activated in response the catastrophe.  We’ve begun to focus on more durable long-term projects including:

  • An agriculture project on the grounds of the UniFA campus which will put formerly agricultural land near the city back into productive use, and which will provide children from the mobile schools we operated in the wake of the quake a chance to learn agricultural skills and raise food for their families.

Farmers meet on the campus of UniFA, Photo by Paul Burke

  • A micro-lending project to enable market women who lost their goods and businesses during the quake to restart their businesses and support their families.

Market Women in Downtown Port-au-Prince after the quake, photo curtesy of Unicef

  • The reopening of UniFA, the University of the Aristide Foundation.  The main classroom building, which sustained minor damage in the quake, has now been fully repaired.  On September 1, 2010 computer science and Spanish language classes resumed inside the building.  Over 300 young Haitians are now studying computer science on the campus.   During the second week of September, 296 students how began their studies in the Spring of 2009 will complete their one-year Spanish language program.  For the past several months, while the building was being repaired classes were held in open-air classrooms on campus, allowing students to continue their studies. For more on the reopening of UniFA please see the article which appeared in the Nouvelliste on Spetember 8, 2010 (French-language)

Computers Class at the AFD, Photo by Paul Burke

All the students currently studying at UniFA, and the thousands more who would like to join them, along with everyone connected to the Foundation, look forward to the day when UniFA can offer a full range of University-level programs to the children of the poor, including the reopening of the Faculty of Medicine which functioned from 2001-2004.   With twenty-eight of thirty-two institutions of higher education in the country reportedly destroyed, the urgency of reopening and expanding the University to meet the incredible demand of Haiti’s youth could not be greater.  We hope you will join us in finding the resources to making this dream a reality.

If you would like to support the work of the Aristide Foundation for Democracy tax-deductible donations can be made here:

Or mail checks to: Aristide Foundation, PO Box 490271, Key Biscayne, Florida 33149

All donations are tax deductible and will be acknowledged.