My Trip to Haiti began when I won a roundtrip ticket at the Haiti Consulate’s Cultural Event last June 5th 2011. The universe knew I wanted and needed to visit Haiti and so it said: “Etta here is your ticket!”
When I landed in Haiti April 12th, having grown up in Jamaica, it felt like home. I knew I was in the only Least Developed Country (LDC) in the Caribbean region as designated by the United Nations, and I understood why. Having studied West Indian culture, I knew of Haiti’s unfortunate political and economic history I had also seen on television and heard on the news of the terrible devastation of the earthquake of January 12, 2010. So I was not shocked by the state of the country. What the trip did was to give legitimacy to the work of ICGC and our Millennium Earth Project. It confirmed for me why the work we are doing to help Haiti build a visual and virtual solution to the issues faced by this great country is absolutely necessary. And, that this could be a first step in the complete development of Haiti as the Haitian government and people had for themselves. I said to myself after being there for 30 minutes: “These people deserve much, much better than this and this state of living cannot be allowed to continue.”
It might sound like a contradiction to say I had a wonderful time on my 8 day visit to Haiti, but I did! I made all the connections vital to the work we are doing and others I never anticipated.
I had the privilege of being escorted from one end of Port-au-Prince and Petionville to the other by a native of Haiti who had lived in Port-au-Prince for many years but now living in Jacmel. This allowed me to see the city through his eyes. I was not prepared or expecting the degree of the devastation of Port-au-Prince. The conclusion I arrived at after that tour was that the city should be completely leveled and a brand new city rise out of the rubble of the earthquake. Like the Phoenix rising out of the ashes, giving birth a new and transformed city and country, Haiti will and must rise!. This is a country which is truly representative of the strength, spirit and grace of the wonderful people of that great land!
My trip was truly magical, I saw how all the events unfolded effortlessly. Though not planned, I was invited to attend a Planning Symposium presented by the State University of Haiti, the University of Montreal and the Institute of Research and Development from Marseille, France. The conference was held at the Karibe Conference Centre in Pettionville, April 16th. There I got to see the awesome plans for the development of Port-au-Prince developed by CHRAD a Haitian Architectural, Research and Engineering firm who was commissioned by the Mayor of the city to develop the plans. There are other plans but these plans seem to give a very nice airy island feel to the vision for a new P-A-P.
I also had the privilege of visiting Cap Haitian, capital of the Grand NORD the area of our first virtual development work. My visit was facilitated by Mr. Stanley HILAIRE from the Department of Planification for NORD. My first meeting was with the Dean of the Law, Economics and Management Faculty at the State University of Haiti, Mr. Jusnerd Nelson. He enlightened us of the financial and other resource needs of the school and the innovativeness of the students in raising the funds needed to expand the space needed for labs and a library. I had the pleasure of meeting with a team of young engineers in the Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Communication who educated us on the extensive plans for the comprehensive development of the Water and Sanitation and Waste system to include all the rural areas and improvement of the structures in the city.
I subsequently had the privilege of meeting the Director of the Cabinet of the Ministry of Interior and his assistant who explained that there is a lot of thinking taking place regarding the comprehensive re-development of Port-au-Prince, which requires fundamental changes. This was a very good meeting and the promise to connect us with the others ministries for collecting the data we need was promised.
The last meeting of the trip was the re-attendance of the Planning Conference at the Karibe Conference Center where I had the opportunity to have Elisabeth Coicou of GroupeTrame and consultant to CHRAD explain the plans, though in French which I could not quite understand she worked to develop as commissioned by the Mayor of Port-au-Prince. There are some communications that transcend language and this was one of them. They have since addressed a concern that it does not address the whole region which it does.
I left P-A-P with a vision of the transformation of Port-au-Prince which these fantastic plans displayed and which I will hold in vision for the renewing of P-A-P and the heralding of the whole new country of Haiti.
Here are some of the plans:
It is my strong sense that Haiti’s time has come. As one of the first black countries to gain independence from colonization, but was maligned by so many forces both external and internal for over two centuries, we as a human family have an obligation to do whatever we can to see this country enjoy the freedom it fought for and so richly deserves!
Your help is greatly appreciated!