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Archive for February, 2009

By Jennifer Browning

As her twins’ 10-year-old birthdays approached Dr. Gwen Wurm gave her children an option: either they each received one present from their parents or they could receive several gifts from their friends attending their birthday party. Dr. Wurm suggested to the children that instead of receiving gifts, their party guests would give a donation to Project Medishare. In addition, Dr. Wurm and her husband, Benji Waxman, agreed to match the donated amount.

The children were aware of Project Medishare’s work in Haiti from various conversations they had with their parents. After a recent medical trip to Haiti with Project Medishare and the University of Miami, Dr. Wurm and her husband would tell their children about working with Project Medishare’s Haitian medical team and about the people they met during their volunteer trip.

“They know how much going to Haiti meant to us,” Dr. Wurm said. “They have seen pictures of Haiti and talked to us about our trip, so they know about Project Medishare.”

The family asked their guests to make a $5 contribution to Project Medishare instead of bringing a gift. While many of their party guests donated $10 or more, Dr. Wurm believed setting a specific dollar amount helped the guests have a sense of what made an appropriate donation.

The birthday donation proposal came about after the family recently remodeled their home. Dr. Wurm said she was offended by what was thrown out during the remodeling and simply, by how much waste is out in the world. With this in mind, it was a simple decision to encourage her kids to ask their birthday guests to donate to Project Medishare rather than accumulate more “stuff.”

Twenty-five children attended the birthday party raising $250 for Project Medishare. The children chose for the money to go toward supporting two health agents in Haiti’s central plateau.

“This was something [the children] could really understand,” Dr. Wurm said, “because they know what these health agents do, like performing home visits and making sure people are vaccinated.”

Dr. Wurm said she would like to encourage other parent’s follow their lead.

“I would encourage other parents to do it, to the degree that there is an alternative to gift-giving,” she said. “It sets up a tradition in the family that says ‘we give to charity.’ It’s a good lesson and it models good behavior for the kids.”

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By Jennifer Browning

Last week the Swiss Federal Office of Justice ordered the return of $6 million (US) in assets stolen by Haiti’s former president, Jean-Claude Duvalier and associates to be handed over to Haiti. The decision was made after the account holders failed to prove to the court that the funds were legitimately acquired.

World Bank Group Managing Director, Ngozi N. Okonjo-Iweala, welcomes the Swiss order and hopes that the handover will encourage other victims in developing countries who have suffered from corruption to launch asset recovery programs.

The assets being returned will go to fund humanitarian projects in Haiti.

“The World Bank hopes that the money can be restituted as soon as possible, and be brought to the benefit of the Haitian population, which has been hard hit by recent natural disasters and will likely bear an additional burden due to the international financial situation,” Danny Leipsiger, World Bank Vice President for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management, said.

Read more

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By Jennifer Browning

haiti_mapMatt Lauer and his friends at NBC are asking viewers for help in deciding where Matt will travel this year for “Where in the World is Matt Lauer?”

Support the effort to boost tourism in Haiti, and vote for Matt to show his viewers a little about the country. There is so much to offer those who visit, such as art, music and culture. Click here to cast your vote and to tell Matt why you think it is important for him to go to Haiti.

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By Jennifer Browning
Amidst the news reports of turmoil and devastation, The Oppenheimer Report in today’s Miami Herald discusses why there is hope for Haiti.

A recent report by Paul Collier, author of The Bottom Billion: Why the poorest countries are failing and what can be done about it, says regardless of Haiti’s political problems, the current global crisis and devastation from recent hurricanes, that Haiti’s opportunities are far more favorable than other “fragile states” in which the small country is grouped.

The report offers numerous reasons why Haiti has a chance to be more successful than African and Asian countries in crisis. One being Haiti’s access to the world’s largest market. Haiti’s lobby in Washington has duty-free and quota-free access to the U.S. market guaranteed for the next nine years. Collier also mentions that Haiti also doesn’t suffer from a civil war, nor is it under attack by other nations.

The report calls for all key countries involved in Haiti’s success to combine their efforts and calls for them to simultaneously coordinate a plan to rebuild the small Caribbean country. Collier also makes recommendations for regional engagement along with job creation.

There is still much work ahead, and according to Oppenheimer, it is important for all involved with Haiti’s rebuilding to work together.

Read the full article here.

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