Haiti's Bright Future: from Toronto to Port-au-Prince

Written by  January 11, 2011

Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010. No matter where you were at that time last year, you probably saw some of the images coming out of the nation that day, as over 500,000 Haitians were either killed or injured and 1,000,000 people became homeless. 

 

You may also remember the piece that appeared in Verge shortly after (click here to read "First on the Ground in Haiti") that chronicled the efforts of humanitarian aid workers.

Now that it's been a full year since the earthquake, the news media is going to be covering the relief efforts in full force. In particular, reporters and commentators from the U.S. and Canada will be trying to answer three questions: 1) has the financial aid that was promised by groups in January 2010 made its way to those who need it in Haiti? 2) how are those funds being used to build a "better Haiti"? and 3) why are 800,000 people still living in what were intended to be emergency shelters? 

At the sidelines of these admittedly important questions, however, are a lot of inspiring initiatives and projects around the world that have been, and will be, working towards improving the lives of millions of Haitians still dealing with the earthquake's aftermath. These deserve some attention, too!

Here in Canada, social enterprise developers Local Buttons have started Design Junction, an ethical and sustainable clothing line. It connects Toronto designers with a garment makers in Haiti who are paid fair wages and use local, second-hand clothing with the help of their Haitian partner, INDEPCO.

Meanwhile, in Port-au-Prince, amputee soccer players are bringing inspiration and a welcome distraction from rubble removal and politics on the field. 

In the United States, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development have just awarded $2.5 million to the first winner of the Haiti Mobile Money Initiative. Digicel won for being the first company to launch a mobile money service in Haiti within six months. Another $7.5 million are set to be distributed.

And in the Twitterverse, Mom It Forward, a social media community that focuses on mothers and women worldwide, is partnering with Macy's Heart of Haiti programme, which sells artwork created by Haitians who receive 22 percent of retail price. Together, they're holding a Twitter party (look for the hashtag #gno or follow @MomItForward or @HeartofHaiti) to discuss giving back to Haiti. It goes down tonight from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. EST. 

Are there any amazing projects or groups supporting the rebuilding effort in Haiti that we should know about? Let us know! And check out the new winter 2011 issue of Verge that's hitting stands this month for a special feature on reconstruction in Haiti from the perspective of Canadian Red Cross workers in Jacmel. 

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Published in Editor's Desk
Zalina Alvi

Zalina grew up in Toronto and began her career in journalism at the York University campus newspaper. Before joining Verge in 2010, she worked for a documentary festival, a non-profit organization and various magazines and newspapers. Zalina has had some eclectic travel experiences, including reporting for a newspaper on the island of Molokai in Hawaii.

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