In Haiti, Good Intentions Have Unexpected and Unfortunate Results

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reporting from Port-au-Prince, Haiti – The wood-frame Carousel grammar school survived theearthquake that destroyed much of this city in January. Beatrice Moise had taught there for five years and hoped she would continue when schools reopened in spring.

But in February she found out that the director had rented the building out to the international relief group Oxfam. Buildings in the upscale suburb of Petionville, where foreigners like to live and work, were in high demand, and Oxfam paid $10,000 a month.

The students, mostly from wealthy families, would probably have little problem finding other schools. Moise and the other five teachers, however, were out of jobs.

Now nearly a year after the disaster, Moise, 38, is working part time as a cashier at a grocery store, earning a quarter of what she made as a teacher, while the influx of foreigners with big budgets has nearly tripled her rent and doubled the price of food.

Still, she doesn’t blame the international groups – the blans (whites). She’s applying for a secretarial position with Oxfam, and her brother already works there.

“I would rather lose my job than have the internationals leave,” she said. “They came here to help.”

The vast foreign aid apparatus in this Caribbean nation is struggling to make significant progress in easing Haiti’s misery after the earthquake that killed an estimated 230,000 people.

Source: The Los Angeles Times (link opens in a new window)