Journalists congregate at the Reporters Without Borders media center in Port-au-Prince. Established after the earthquake destroyed the offices and workspaces of many journalists, the center offers computers and free Internet access for journalists. (Jacob Kushner for Infosurhoy.com)

Haitian journalists struggle to do their jobs in a challenging news environment

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – While foreign reporters flock to Haiti to cover major breaking news, Haitian journalists said they are reporting on the events that have devastated the nation during the past year with a “work as usual” attitude.

The earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010 closed radio and television stations and destroyed the office of at least once major newspaper, making reporting nearly impossible at a time when good journalism was needed more than ever, journalists said.

Haitian journalists had been accustomed to working in tough circumstances that range from low and unsteady wages to lack of training in investigative techniques – and that was before the impoverished nation was hit by a massive earthquake and a deadly cholera outbreak.

Click HERE to read the full story as it appeared at Info Sur Hoy.

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Margaret Oguisten, 85, who sells cookies from a small shop in Port-au-Prince’s Delmas sector, said she’s tired of Haiti’s election controversy overshadowing the nation’s larger problems. -Jacob Kushner

Haiti: OAS’s report conflicts with Electoral Council’s ruling

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Opposition candidate Michel Martelly earned the second-highest number of votes in Haiti’s troubled Nov. 28 election – not government-backed candidate Jude Celestin, according to an investigation by the Organization of American States (OAS), which observed the election.

“The Expert Mission has determined that it cannot support the preliminary results of the presidential elections released on December 7, 2010,” reads the report, which was delivered to President René Préval on Jan. 13 and made public Jan. 18.

Click HERE to read the full story as it appeared at Info Sur Hoy.

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‘Baby Doc’ adds new twist to Haiti latest woes

By JACOB KUSHNER and JONATHAN M. KATZ, Associated Press

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “BabyDoc” Duvalier ensconced himself Monday in a high-end hotel following his surprise return to a country deep in crisis, leaving many to wonder if the once-feared strongman will prompt renewed conflict in the midst of a political stalemate.

Duvalier met with allies inside the hotel in the hills above downtown Port-au-Prince and spoke publicly only through emissaries, who gave vague explanations for his sudden and mysterious appearance — nearly 25 years after he was forced into exile by a popular uprising against his brutal regime.

Henry Robert Sterlin, a former ambassador who said he was speaking on behalf of Duvalier, portrayed the 59-year-old former “president for life,” as merely a concerned elder statesmen who wanted to see the effects of the devastating Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake on his homeland.

“He was deeply hurt in his soul after the earthquake,” Sterlin said. “He wanted to come back to see how is the actual Haitian situation of the people and the country.”

Duvalier — who assumed power in 1971 at age 19 following the death of his father, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier — still has some support in Haiti and millions are too young to remember life under his dictatorship. But his abrupt return Sunday still sent shock waves through the country, with some fearing that his presence will bring back the extreme polarization, and political violence, of the past.

Click HERE to read the full AP story as it appeared at Yahoo! News.

Milwaukee church invests in Haiti

Milwaukee church invests in Haiti

Wisconsin residents have made many contributions to the relief efforts in Haiti, but the country still struggles to recover from the earthquake that rocked the country a little more than a year ago. One church in Cedarburg is doing its part by funding an orphanage and school in Port-au-Prince, the country’s capital. Church members decided to get involved after the orphanage’s co-founder spoke at the church.

On Jan. 12, 2010, the world turned its attention to the small island nation of Haiti as a 7.2-magnitude earthquake destroyed the nation’s capital, killing some 230,000 people and injuring 300,000 more. Americans have donated an estimated $2 billion to emergency relief efforts, and Congress recently approved $1.2 billion in reconstruction aid — part of the total $10.2 billion pledged by governments around the world.

Wisconsin businesses have contributed over $1.5 million, according to the Donors Forum of Wisconsin, and thousands of the state’s residents have donated relief money online or by text. But despite all the money pledged in the year since the catastrophe, Haiti still looks, in most ways, like it did the day after the earthquake.

Click HERE to read the full story as it appeared at Milwaukee Magazine’s Newsbuzz

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Gift of Life

by Evelyn Margron with Jacob Kushner | January 12, 2011

A year after the devastating 7.0 earthquake that shook Haiti, Evelyn Margron recalls her miraculous rescue from a collapsed office building.

It was January 12, 2010. Around four in the afternoon my boss in
Managua, Nicaragua, Mariecke, and I were talking together on Skype. At 4:30, my grandson Matias arrived from school. He always comes to my office and then we go to see my partner Guy before we head home. Mariecke was waving at Matias on the computer screen and Matias was amused. He waved back before sitting across from me to work on a drawing.

The telephone rang. Guy was calling me to remind me that I was late. I had barely placed the telephone back in its cradle when the walls began to shake. In Spanish, I told Mariecke “Terremoto!” In the same breath I yelled to Matias, “Under the table, quickly! Are you alright?”

Later, I realized I had lost consciousness after crawling under the desk.

The earth shook again. As I came to I inspected myself. I was lying on my right side, my right arm pinned tightly to the ground by a wooden beam. I touched the ragged, viscous remains of my right arm with my left arm. I removed my Skype headset, my glasses, my necklace. And the earth trembled again.

“Abuela, are we going to die?”

Matias took me by surprise. “Maybe,” I replied, “but I will do everything in my power to prevent that.”

Click HERE to read Margron’s full story at World Pulse. Also watch her VIDEO interview.

Haiti mourn quake dead, find hope in own resilency

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — The air was choked with memory Wednesday in this city where everyone lost a brother, a child, a cousin or a friend. One year after the earthquake, Haitians marched down empty, rubble-lined streets singing hymns and climbed broken buildings to hang wreaths of flowers.

The landscape is much as the quake left it, thanks to a reconstruction effort that has yet to begin addressing the intense need. But the voices were filled with hope for having survived a year that seemed to get worse at every turn.

“We’ve had an earthquake, hurricane, cholera, but we are still here, and we are still together,” said Charlemagne Sintia, 19, who joined other mourners at a soccer stadium that served as an open-air morgue after the quake and later housed a tent camp.

Thousands gathered around the city to be with loved ones and pray. They flocked to the ruins of the once-towering national cathedral, to the soccer stadium, to parks, hillsides and the neighborhood centers.

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PHOTO: In Haiti, celebrating the life that endures

Haitians observe the first anniversary of the earthquake through song, prayer, and unity.

Haiti's National Cathedral on the anniversary of the earthquake. -Jacob Kushner

Still Trying to Rise Above the Rubble

One year ago today, Evelyn Margron was trapped beneath her collapsed Port-au-Prince home, her right arm crushed under several pounds of concrete, her grandson pinned below. It was the day that a 7.0-magnitude earthquake transformed Haiti’s capital city and the surrounding area into rubble, eventually killing some 230,000 people. Margron was not one of the fatalities. The 56-year-old country director for the Dutch human-rights group ICCO was pulled from the rubble and eventually treated in the Dominican Republic for her crushed chest, broken arm, and collarbone. “The people who got me out of the rubble—I did not know them and they did not know me. But it happened so many times that night,” Margron says in a nod to the solidarity that Haitians say was the predominant mood of the day.

Click HERE to read the full story as it appeared at Newsweek.

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Haiti: A bitter anniversary

Haiti: A bitter anniversary

Those who lived through the earthquake struggle to survive its aftermath

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Today, Haitians across the country will pause to remember the earthquake that devastated their nation exactly a year ago.

They will sing and pray in unison outside the ruins of Haiti’s national cathedral.

Some will gather to discuss the upcoming election; others will talk about the role the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) has had in maintaining order; and others will discuss the reconstruction process.

But Islande Vilmeus will not be participating. While others choose to remember, the 30-year-old wants to forget – forget that her tonton, the uncle who raised her since her parents died at age 10, was among the about 300,000 who died in the earthquake.

She wants to forget that, two weeks ago, she returned from the market to find her 5-year-old son dead on the floor of her tent from an unknown cause. She said he might have been poisoned.

The boy’s body lies unclaimed at the local morgue since she can’t afford a funeral.

Vilmeus and her six other children survived the earthquake that brought their home crumbling to the ground. But they are not surviving its aftermath, she says, as she cradles her 10-month-old son Abraham who hasn’t eaten yet today.

Click HERE to read the full story as it appeared at Info Sur Hoy.

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A girl sits in the doorway of one of the few structures in Port-au-Prince’s Fort National neighborhood that was not leveled by the earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010. No permanent shelters have been reconstructed in the area, forcing many residents to live in tents. (Jacob Kushner for Infosurhoy.com)

Haiti: Reconstruction lagging behind schedule

One year after the earthquake, more than a million Haitians remain displaced

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Nearly a year since a 7.0-magnitude earthquake destroyed the nation’s capital and surrounding areas, much work remains in the reconstruction process that’s way behind schedule.

More than a million remain displaced in unsanitary – and unsustainable – tent cities, many without consistent access to clean drinking water, according to the U.S. State Department.

The majority of buildings throughout Port-au-Prince are in the same collapsed state they were in after being pulverized on Jan. 12, 2010. Fewer than two million of the nine million cubic meters of rubble have been removed, and debris still clogs city streets, according to the U.S. State Department.

“I think there’s a general feeling – and we share this feeling – that the reconstruction is much slower than we had hoped,” said Eric Overvest, Haiti Country Director for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). “The first six months, all the attention went to humanitarian assistance, which was very necessary, but the change to development started very late.”

Click HERE to read the full article as it appeared at Info Sur Hoy.

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