Facing Natural Disasters
As the tragedy of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan unfolds day by day, we are reminded that just over one year ago, a similar event happened in Haiti. One year later, much of that news is either old news or no news, unless you are Haitian or have an ongoing involvement in the reconstruction.
This is not unusual, given the complexity of the world and the rapidity with which natural and man-made disasters happen. Only six years ago PDF assisted former board member Michelle Curry in her four month stay in Sri Lanka following the tsunami in Southeast Asia. The unfolding events in North Africa and the Middle East are a combination of desperation, despair and exuberant hope, all generating riveting news and heart wrenching realities. PDF still has funds invested in a certificate of deposit in the Hope Federal Credit Union, which helps collateralize loans in the Gulf region following the Katrina disaster.
While we have generated a response fund for events in Japan intended to assist minority and underserved communities in that country, we have also been in conversation with the organizers of Project ESPWA, which will set up the first non-governmental community controlled Community Foundation of Haiti, representing a partnership among Haitians in Haiti and in the Haitian Diaspora. This is a logical outcome of the years of suffering and organizing in that country, amplified by the earthquake to the point where it is possible and necessary to have this conversation about autonomous, community controlled resources for the rebuilding and development that will define Haiti’s future.
While excellent relief and medical work is being done by international NGOs such as Partners in Health (which PDF supported in our emergency response last year), the ongoing work of community and national development will best be done by Haitians, who hold the long term commitment that will enable success.
PDF will remain an advocate, whether in Haiti or South Dakota or East LA, for community controlled non-profit organizations and institutions, including Project ESPWA, as an expression of our commitment to support grassroots people and communities, to support community controlled development and to support human and environmentally sustainable solutions to the complex development puzzle of life in the 21st century.