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Housing For Haitians Remains Precarious

April 26, 2011

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The way Robert Darvin sees it, he is one of the lucky ones.

After being evicted from a tent camp a few months ago, he, his wife and their three children crammed into a rebuilt home the size of a small U-Haul trailer. But at least a roof shelters their heads, even if a flimsy one that allows the rain to pour through.

“It is made of cheap cement,” Darvin said, pointing to fresh cracks in the walls. He sounded at once relieved at having found a place and fretful over what another earthquake or hurricane might do to it. “If you think too much about it, you lose your mind.”

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Housing For Haitians Remains Precarious

This day in Haitian History – 1994

April 23, 2011

1994 – Haitians massacred

Haitian soldiers massacred at least 23 fishermen and merchants in the Haitian West coast city of Gonaives following a wave of attacks on Haiti’s pro-democracy movement. The victims included people gathering firewood on the beach and fishermen off shore who were shot by soldiers who commandeered rowboats. Political violence had killed up to 3,000.

Haitian farmers, California schools get help from Sirona Fuels

April 23, 2011

Sirona Fuels may not be producing biodiesel in Haiti yet, but the California-based company is certainly getting close. In 2009, Michelle Lacourciere, Director of the Sirona Cares Foundation, the nonprofit arm of Sirona Fuels, started working with Haitian farmers to develop jatropha. “The first year was spent building strong in-country relationships and running test nurseries,” Lacourciere said. Now, she works with more than a thousand farmers, and the nurseries, she said, “can’t produce enough seedlings” to keep up with the farmers. Every eight weeks or so, she makes the long flight from California to Haiti to check in with her farmers. And even now, after the devastating earthquake, she said the farmers are making great progress.

“Our 10 pilot farmers of the jatropha project planted the first seedlings about two weeks before the earthquake,” she said. After the disaster, she says eight out of 10 of the farmers lost everything, including their farms and homes. When she returned to Haiti, Lacourciere said she expected everything to be a total loss, but to her surprise, the farmers had already replanted 20,000 seedlings and were hoping to plant more. “By January, I had gone from 10 farmers to well over a thousand,” she said.

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Haitian farmers, California schools get help from Sirona Fuels

Haiti and the international aid scam

April 23, 2011

Corruption takes many forms, and if the United States seems like it has less of it than many developing countries, this is partly because we have legalised so much of it. Election campaign contributions are only the most costly and debilitating form: a legalised bribery that, for example, gives the pharmaceutical and insurance companies a veto over healthcare policy and generally hollows out our limited form of democracy.

This legalisation of corruption reached a new milestone last December when one Lewis Lucke, a long-time US Agency for International Development (USAID) official turned influence-peddler, sued a consortium of firms operating in Haiti for $492,000, for breach of contract. As Lucke would have it (sorry!), he was promised $30,000 a month, plus incentives, to use his influence to secure contracts for these nice fellas. He got them $20m worth of contracts, but they cut him off after two months. The defendants in the case are Ashbritt, a US contractor with a questionable track record, and the GB Group, one of the largest Haitian conglomerates. Together, they formed the Haiti Recovery Group, which they incorporated in the Cayman Islands, to bid on reconstruction contracts.

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Haiti and the international aid scam

Haiti nonprofit group’s leader investigated on bad checks

April 23, 2011

The Reno Police Department is investigating more than $10,440 worth of bad checks allegedly written by the head of the nonprofit group Help Build Hope Haiti, who was the target of a Reno Gazette-Journal investigation after funds disappeared and workers left the project.

The police investigation is in addition to two civil lawsuits filed in two states in the past week involving Mike Stickler’s handling of the Haiti home-building project.

One in Texas claims he committed fraud when he collected church funds by allegedly making false or misleading claims, and one in Kentucky said he stole the group’s name and didn’t fulfill a contract.

The bounced-check cases started as a civil action, officials said, but are now being investigation for possible criminal charges.

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Haiti nonprofit group’s leader investigated on bad checks

Haiti needs new homes and a new military, says new president

April 22, 2011

Michel Martelly has vowed to speed up Haiti‘s recovery and to re-establish an army after being officially declared the next president of the quake-battered country.

Haiti’s electoral commission said the singer-turned politician won 67.6% of the vote in last month’s run-off election, far ahead of his rival Mirlande Manigat.

The announcement ended a debilitating, drawn-out saga over who would succeed President René Préval. The election’s first round last November had a crowded field and ended in fraud, stalemate and instability.

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Haiti needs new homes and a new military, says new president

The Evangelical Adoption Crusade

April 22, 2011

In late March Craig Juntunen told a group of Christian adoption advocates assembled at a Chandler, Arizona, home about his plans to increase international adoptions fivefold. Just over a year before, the world had been riveted by the saga of Laura Silsby, the American missionary arrested while trying to transport Haitian children across the Dominican border. But the lessons of that scandal seemed far from Juntunen’s mind as he described his “crusade to create a culture of adoption” by simplifying adoption’s labyrinthine ethical complexities to their emotional core. Juntunen, a former pro football quarterback and the adoptive father of three Haitian children, has emerged as a somewhat rogue figure in the adoption world since he recently founded an unorthodox nonprofit, Both Ends Burning. He has commissioned a documentary about desperate orphans in teeming institutions, Wrongfully Detained, and proposed a “clearinghouse model” that will raise the number of children adopted into US families to more than 50,000 per year.

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The Evangelical Adoption Crusade

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