October 18, 2010
Editor’s Note: I contacted the HDS team for an interview after seeing their advertisement for survey-takers on the Corbett list a few weeks ago. One, I wanted to know who was collecting information on the diaspora and for what purpose. Two, I wanted to encourage any effort to put together a reliable snapshot of the disapora’s makeup, as well as its views on and contributions to Haiti. There is little data out there beyond basic information. Tulane University master’s students Luis Capuchina and Vinita Oberoi launched the survey on September 15, 2010. Fill it out before their early December deadline.
Why are you focusing on the Haitian diaspora?
Haiti is in an exceptional situation. The January 2010 earthquakes compounded the hardship associated with decades of underdevelopment, debatable NGO influence, environmental degradation and poor governance. We want to see how at a grassroots level, the Haitian diaspora—particularly first and second-generation—are responding to this historic disaster in their homeland.
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October 10, 2010
Johnny Celestin, founder and president, The Haitian Fund for Innovation and Reconstruction
Editor’s Note: I recently attended a New York panel hosted by the Haitian Roundtable on the diaspora’s role in rebuilding Haiti. One speaker, Johnny Celestin, founder of a new Haiti investment fund and diaspora liaison at the Clinton Foundation kept it real about the diaspora’s obligations and offered tangible to-do’s and opportunities. With his permission I reprint his speech, edited for the Web, here.
The issues before us today are so important that we can’t concern ourselves with the possibility of offending sensibilities. So without being too controversial, I would like to start with the hypothesis that the Diaspora is invisible and therefore irrelevant in the current debate about Haiti. This irrelevance is nothing new but it is most acutely felt here in the United States because of proximity, the sheer size of Haitian Diaspora in the US, and its influence on the Haitian economy.
Let’s start with a few figures. They are the context within which we are here to discuss the question, “What is the role for the Haitian Diaspora?”
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