CRS President Ken Hackett is visiting Haiti this week as a food crisis continues to cause hardship in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. He shares some thoughts on his first day in the country.
I arrived yesterday in Port-au-Prince from Miami and spent most of the day in our CRS Haiti office receiving briefings on our programs. They are most impressive. In our HIV and AIDS response, the CRS-led AIDSRelief consortium provides life-saving anti-retroviral medication through eight local partner treatment facilities to more than 2,900 people. Another 6,000 people with HIV are receiving clinical care. I also heard about all the support we are providing to orphans and vulnerable children affected by AIDS.
We are also involved in an interesting joint project with the Diocese of Brooklyn, NY. The project provides basic social services and counseling to Haitians who were deported from the Dominican Republic back to Haiti. We provide assistance to help these folks return to their families and we work with communities in both countries to prevent violence and discrimination and to make sure the rights of these people are respected.
The food crisis is obviously troubling to people here. I wouldn’t say it’s disastrous yet, but it is certainly a problem. The price of gas here is $6 a gallon, which is contributing to the high cost of food.
Although Haiti is poor, it is a beautiful country. It has always reminded me of West Africa. The people are gentle and kind.
Later today, I’ll travel to the southern city of Les Cayes to visit a clinic and some HIV and AIDS programs.
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