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Haiti, One Year Later: David Weiss, President and CEO, blogs on the Huffington Post

Published 01/12/2011 by Global Communities

Finding Hope in Haiti Through the Haitian People
By David Weiss, President and CEO, CHF International

It has been one year since the people of Haiti suffered immense losses from the devastating earthquake that struck their country. But despite the frustrations of the relief process and the ravages of cholera, there is reason to find hope in Haiti. And that reason is its people.
I started my career in Haiti 30 years ago, as an economic officer in the U.S. Embassy. Because of the nature of the country and the post, I was able to dig much deeper into the issues affecting the country than most Foreign Service officers get to at that stage in their career and grew to understand the country’s economic plight intimately. My interest in Haiti never left me. In the intervening three decades, Haiti has been through many changes; sadly, it has been mostly a downwards spiral of coups d’etats, trade embargoes, crime and violence. Perhaps the nadir came in 2004 when Cite Soleil, an infamous neighborhood of Port-au-Prince known as the worst slum in the western hemisphere, was declared “the most dangerous place in the world” by the UN.
But things changed from that point. The UN and Preval’s government brought tentative stability to the country. Rampaging crime gangs were brought under control, kidnappings and homicides decreased. By this time last year, just before the earthquake, things were looking brighter for Haiti. Stabilization initiatives that emphasized infrastructure and employment had brought once off-limits areas, such as Cite Soleil, into the economic fabric of the city. A major U.S. hotel chain had plans to open the first line of foreign-run hotels in many years, betting on the future tourism prospects of the beaches of Jacmel.
Then the earthquake struck. Some saw this disaster as an opportunity for Haiti to “get out from under its past.” Many commentators spoke of this as a potential turning point for Haiti, but the turning point had already taken place.
Read the rest of this article in the Huffington Post.