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A Meeting of the Haitian Diaspora Next Week in D.C.- NY Carib News

A Prelude to United Nations Donor Conference on March 31st in New York, OAS Mobilizing Nationals behind extensive Rebuilding Effort

By Tony Best

Members of the Haitian Diaspora across North America are expected to assemble in Washington next week for three days of talks on how to “promote dialogue on the rebuilding” of their earthquake ravaged country.

The conference is being held at the headquarters of the Organization of American States to which Haiti and its CARICOM neighbors belong. The essential goal: to prepare for the March 31st international donor conference at the United Nations in New York.

The meeting is scheduled for March 21- 23rch and if Albert Ramdin, Assistant Secretary-General of the Western Hemisphere body, should get his way, the discussions would stimulate even greater involvement by Haitians living abroad in the preparation of a broad development plan that, hopefully, would fuel the reconstruction of the country.

As Ramdin sees it, every effort must be made to be “inclusive as we prepare for the international donor conference.”

At the same time it would provide an opportunity for the Haitian Diaspora in the United States, Canada, France and elsewhere to indicate in concrete terms how they can assist their fellow nationals in building a new future.

Eamdin, who is expected to be re-elected soon to a second four year term as the number two person in the OAS hierarchy heads the Organization’s Group of Friends of Haiti. He hopes the Diaspora conference would help reinforce the OAS’s continuing commitment to provide and coordinate international assistance to the country in the wake of the January 12th earthquake. Another goal is to encourage a dialogue between groups on how best to pave the road ahead to recovery and development of Haiti.

More than 230,000 lost their lives on January 12th when the earthquake struck; at least 1.2 million Haitians were left homeless; and a major portion of the capital of Port-au- Prince was destroyed.

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke: Enterprise Development Fund Needed to help Haiti Rebuild after January 12th Earthquake “An extremely effective tool for fostering growth in recovering nations.”

U.S. Representative Yvette Clarke, Democrat of Brooklyn, was focusing the attention of U.S. President Barack Obama on the value of the Enterprise Development Fund model while at the same time recommending that the U.S. create one for Haiti in the aftermath of the mammoth natural disaster which hit the Caribbean country two months ago.

“As we seek to develop long term recovery initiatives in Haiti, we must focus on economic development,” she told the President in a letter.

“It is vital that we help Haitian citizens establish the institutions which will foster job creation and sustainable wealth. “Spurring economic development will require a robust toolkit,” she went on.

“History has taught us that the Enterprise Development Fund model is an extremely effective tool for fostering growth in recovering nations. Enterprise Development Funds have the unique purpose of encouraging sustainable economic development through loans and equity investments in small and medium-sized indigenous businesses.

These investments have proven crucial because these firms operate in countries where such funding is unreliable and inaccessible.

The Funds are operated by independent boards of talented and committed business people. In addition to supplying sorely needed financing, the experienced investors working for an enterprise fund also provide technical assistance to entrepreneurs, maximizing business success, and return on investment dollars.”

Clarke reminded Obama that Congress authorized Enterprise Development Funds in the 1989 Seed Act “in order to promote the development of robust private sectors in former Soviet Bloc countries.” Just as important, President Bill Clinton “on a handshake” with South African President Nelson Mandela used the model “to help South Africa emerge from its apartheid rule by providing economic opportunity to its formerly disenfranchised population.”

That was why such a Fund for Haiti wasn’t simply appropriate but badly needed at this time. And the President could establish one with the stroke of a pen through an executive order, she explained.

“A Haitian Enterprise Development fund would contribute to the creation of a robust private sector in the struggling nation,” was the way she put the case. “Congress created the Enterprise Development model in response to rapid and unprecedented political and economic changes within former Soviet satellite nations.

The deadly Haitian earthquake presents the same kind of unprecedented political and economic upheaval, and the U.S. Government should respond accordingly.”

The letter was also sent to U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and to Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, USAID.

“To Haiti with Love” Fund-Raising Concert in Fort Lauderdale. Concert organizers in Florida want March 28th and picturesque Central Boulevard Regional Park in Fort Lauderdale to be on the minds of thousand of people in that part of the country.

That’s the date and the venue for a starstudded concert to raise funds for Haiti. Beginning at noon, a host of international and Florida based recording artistes will contribute their talents to the humanitarian cause, “To Haiti with Love Benefit Concert, a concert for life.”

The charitable event will showcase a variety of musical genres, ranging from Kompa, reggae, Rhythm and Blues to Hip- Hop, Soca Gospel and Latin. Tabou Combo, Nu Look, Sweet Mickey, Sister Sledge, Donna Allen, Special Ed, King Banton, Twiggy, Maurice, Junior Tucker, DJ Griot, Abijah and Causion are among the artistes scheduled to appear.

In addition to the City of Lauderhill, the event is being sponsored by Golden Krust, Bank Atlantic, Haiti Caribbean Festival, Banana Boat and several other organizations and groups.