Since the magnitude 7.4 earthquake hit Haiti with devastating force, many have expressed sorrow for the dead, and the physically and the emotionally traumatized. They have also asked themselves what can be done for immediate relatives and friends as well as for the country as a whole. Many have been shocked into paralysis, simply watching and monitoring the news. In the US, it’s been all Haiti, all the time. Others have been shocked into overdrive, wishing to be on the ground immediately to help with search and rescue efforts or otherwise be on hand to help. Many have decried the lack of leadership either in Haiti or abroad from Haitians themselves.
Before addressing these concerns, first allow me to express my deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives as a result of the earthquake. Although my own relatives have reported being safe, I count among the dead many friends and colleagues. And many more remain unaccounted for. I hope they are ok.
Second, let’s bear in mind the following:
- Relief work of this magnitude is best carried out by professionally-equipped and trained relief workers. Several countries have deployed emergency relief teams to Haiti and there are more on the way; Haitians wishing to be part of the emergency relief efforts should consider joining with relief and government agencies that can use their assistance instead of trying to build some relief effort out of thin air.
- The pace of relief delivery has been hampered by the logistical nightmare of a one-runway airport, and the severely damaged seaport in Port-au-Prince.
- The deep and destructive impact of the quake upon government leadership and structures cannot be underestimated.
- Cash donations to relief agencies such as OXFAM, the Red Cross and other reliable institutions operating on the ground are essential as they provide them with the means to deploy humanitarian assistance to Haiti. There’s a greater role for people beyond the immediate emergency: Bear in mind that Haitians need to be put to work as quickly as possible. I suspect that Haiti will become a huge construction site in the next few years, and the monies that you can spend in Haiti in the coming months and years will be crucial to developing a better economy and social structures.
I have spent years working in the independent sector, promoting human rights-based policies in Haiti. Some three months ago, I became the Senior Advisor to Ambassador Leslie Voltaire, Haiti’s Special Envoy to the United Nations. This means I work for the Government of Haiti (GOH). I came to my current position, armed with the belief that a strong and effective government was absolutely essential to the development of a viable state, amid signs that the GOH leadership embraced this approach.
The mission of my office pre-earthquake was to work hand in hand with President Bill Clinton who was appointed Special Envoy for Haiti by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Our responsibility was to ensure that $350 million worth of multilateral and bilateral assistance pledged to Haiti at a donor’s conference last April 2009 turn into tangible commitments and flow through the aid pipeline as quickly as possible to a Haitian government whose capacity to reliably manage international assistance had to be greatly strengthened. With offers and pledges of assistance spiraling upwards today, the need for a strong Haitian government response is higher than ever.
The earthquake has only deepened my belief in the need for a government that can manage the affairs of state responsibly and ensure a level playing field for all of Haiti’s children. Today our need for able-bodied men and women to join in the efforts to manage the affairs of state is even greater today.
Since my office does not have the requisite resources demanded of the moment, our immediate need is for many of you to come forward and step up to the challenges. Let us know what skills that you could bring to help rebuild Haiti. Allow me to insist on your sticking to the skills you possess today, i.e. now is not the time to believe that you can wield a hammer like a seasoned construction worker when you have no carpentry or construction skills.
Here are the skills needed by my office in New York City at this time.
1. Excellent communications ability:
- writing, proficiency with Microsoft Word including knowledge of graphics and formatting;
- Public speaking experience;
- Spoken and written fluency in English, French, Creole and Spanish (at least two languages)
- Analytical ability to focus on key issues quickly
- Staff who can operate with minimal instructions;
- Staff who are disciplined and go-getters
3. Technical expertise:
- Internet proficiency;
- Website proficiency
- Tweeter and SMS proficiency
Specific skills demanded of seasoned professionals:
1. UN, OAS, Intergovernmental or International NGO program implementation experience
2. Business Management, economic and corporate development experience
3. International Finance and Development Experience
4. Communications Experience
5. Administrative Experience
6. Crisis Management Experience
7. Disaster Relief Experience
8. International NGO experience
9. Governmental Policy Experience
10. Human Resource Management experience
11. Lobbying/advocacy experience.
12. Haitian Diaspora experience
13. Legal Experience
Forgive this long note, but it’s been a while since we communicated. I look forward to your responses and your help. Although you can reach me through JMC STRATEGIES, should you be communicating to me in my formal government capacity, please use the email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s my contact information:
Bureau of Haiti’s Special Envoy to the UN
801 Second Avenue, suite 600, New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 370-4840 ext. 36; Fax: (212) 661-8698: Cell: (862) 452-7196