Shai Reshef: True Rehabilitation Is Through Education

A Case for Haiti’s Future

The question begs to be answered — why does Haiti still look virtually untouched after the earthquake of 2010?

As of January 1, 2013 there are approximately $6 billion dollars left to disperse towards Haiti’s rehabilitation. $6 billion has already been dispersed in three years. And this is only from the bilateral and multilateral donors. $3 billion additional poured in from private donors, for a total of $9 billion by the international community.

Essentially, we are $9 billion dollars later, and Haiti looks as though the earthquake happened yesterday. One could deduce that the reasons for the apparent failure should be complex. On the contrary, the primary reasons for much of the lull in progress are relatively straightforward.

First, much of the dispersed funds went to urgent matters of survival and shelter for those affected. The earthquake killed 316,000 individuals, and left 1.5 million homeless. In a country of 10 million, that is 15 percent of the entire population. Almost 400,000 people still live in tents today, three years later.

Second, and what most people don’t actually address often, is that the amount dispersed is sadly only a fraction of what Haiti needs. To provide perspective, the horrendous Hurricane Katrina of the United States left 1,833 Americans dead and an estimated $81 billion in property damage.

To make matters more complicated, starting about ten months after the earthquake, Haiti was hit with a cholera epidemic that resulted in 625,899 cases of cholera and 7,787 dead to date. Aid was requested to respond, so $186.2 million in the allocated international humanitarian funding went just in support of the cholera response.

Of the $6 billion from bilateral and multilateral donors, only an estimated 10 percent has been channeled to the Government of Haiti to pump back into its own country. All the rest has gone to international aid organizations; doing amazing work for sure, and yet, this tactic is contrary to proven successful measures of building a country back up again. Money needs to go to the people of Haiti, via its own government mobilizing its people to create jobs by investing in education, security, infrastructure improvements, and more.

In the meantime, there is a whole generation needing an urgent solution to an educational problem. There are many bright, ambitious, young Haitians lifting their eyes to the future, full of hope and a blazing need for education. With 28 out of Haiti’s 32 universities destroyed in the earthquake, and architecture rehabilitation lagging behind with aid allocated to survival needs, these young people at least have a place to obtain the higher education they desperately need — tuition-free. If there is one plea it is for the fulfillment of their hope — and thankfully, there is hope to be found.

University of the People (UoPeople) — the world’s tuition-free, non-profit, online university dedicated to servicing all those constrained — has already admitted close to 100 Haitian individuals for the attainment of degrees in Business Administration and Computer Science. University of the People is currently, recruiting awareness for the 150 additional Haitian’s the university strives to admit with the securing of funds for its Haitian Scholarship Fund.

You can help give hope and a future for the young of Haiti. By empowering through education, we can provide a real future for Haitians to create their own businesses and attain employment. On behalf of the millions of youth in need of higher education in Haiti today, thank you for considering the role you can play.