Haiti - Where Are We Now?



The Brown Man on is on YouTube.

It's hard to believe that less than a month ago I wrote those words after making my first video. Essentially a narrated slide show of public domain images that illustrate a piece I wrote last month about the flawed storyline the media seemed to be pursuing in their portrayal of Haiti, this five minute piece hit a milestone yesterday, clocking its 2,000th viewing since I posted it.

I am glad I was able to help in my own way to contribute to a better understanding of the actual circumstances which predate the horrific calamity unfolding in Haiti.

So where are we now?

Or did you send one of those text message donations a few weeks ago and decide to "leave it to the professionals?" Did you get tired of the dizzying display of poverty and amputations and decide to change the channel?

Other than a few faint grumblings from somewhere about retiring Haiti's debt, a media feeding frenzy over the fake missionary scam artist and friends who need to be under the jail, but are currently cooling their heels as criminal defendants in one in Haiti after an attempt to spirit native children out of the country illegally, and reports on the money raised by the latest telethons and sing-alongs for the earthquake victims, there isn't a lot of news about Haiti these days that focuses solely on the lives of the island nation's average citizens.

In any case, according to the TV announcers, we are supposed to be sympathetic to Canada this week, which is struggling to put on a Winter Olympics without very much snow.

So what is going on in Port-Au-Prince these days?

If you really want to get a bird's eye view from someone who is not just looking for a Pulitzer, but is as committed to showing what is going on in Haiti as she was in the Congo, you need to take a look at my email buddy Emily Troutman. She's a photographer who financed her worldwide forays out of her own pocket for years. Now she's a U.N. Citizen Ambassador and a contributor to AOL News, but she's still not afraid to open herself up to the local culture, the way she has done in places like the Congo.

What I should've told the woman, what I'd like to tell her now, is that no one really knows if missionaries are helping; they may actually be hurting. "Helping" Haiti has become a high-risk game with no referee, and we're wagering the world's money on it. The real loser in this game is Haiti.

Haiti may be poor, but it has a democratically elected government. It is not saddled with a barren desert landscape. Some portions of the country support a thriving tourism trade. A historic look at Haiti shows eras filled with economic hope and even prosperity. Truth be told, there are millions of people living in conditions that make Haiti's look bucolic -- Sudan, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, China, Afghanistan.

Even as we look at the Millennium Development Goals, which provide an important framework for the future, we seem mostly to be asking one question: "What does Haiti need?" But we should also be asking: "Why does Haiti need?" That's more complicated but, ultimately, more important.

Emily Troutman
Essay: Haiti's Story Rolls On as Journalists Roll Out

Emily has more empathy in her little finger than I'll have in the next three lifetimes. I am glad that she has a role, however small, in shaping the Haiti narrative. And I am heartened by some of the ideas she has begun to disseminate, although our media friends back in D.C. are even as we speak hard at work crafting some sort of nonsense that will make the Haitians responsible for causing the deadly tremors themselves in the end.

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