Press Release: Three Years after the Haiti Earthquake
10 January 2013
Three years after the Haiti earthquake: no to skepticism and pessimism as the country rebuilds
Three years after the devastating earthquake ravaged Port-Au-Prince, many commentators have expressed pessimism about the disparity between Haiti’s slow reconstruction and the billions of dollars spent in and promised to the country. Libraries Without Borders (LWB), which has worked in Haiti since 2009, rejects this skewed outlook and calls for the recognition of Haitians’ considerable rebuilding efforts – and successes – since the earthquake.
Immediately following the earthquake, LWB was able to rapidly expand its efforts in the country thanks to its close and ongoing partnership with local actors. In coordination with these institutions, LWB established libraries in internally displaced persons camps, a project which benefited over 500,000 Haitians, in addition to supporting the reopening of cultural centers affected by the disaster such as Haiti’s National Library.
In 2010, LWB joined forces with the State University of Haiti to open small reference libraries, which helped numerous university departments to resume their courses. The following year, LWB also established Haiti’s first University Digital Library, a structure consisting of 60 computer terminals with high-speed Internet access; this project aimed to provide Haitian students, researchers and professors with access to millions of high quality scholarly resources.
In 2012, as most other NGOs began to leave the country due to the depletion of emergency funds, LWB instead increased the number of its programs to promote Haitians’ access to books and educational materials, establishing the first two Haitian mobile libraries, called BiblioTaptaps, in collaboration with its local partners (the National Library, Fokal, and the Ministry of Culture). These 4X4 libraries on wheels, which aim to reach the most remote populations, provide a unique space for reading, playing and discussion, and offer their resources to over 15,000 Haitians every month.
Finally, last year LWB partnered with the University of Haiti to work toward establishing ‘the Ruche,’ the country’s first university central library reserve. The Ruche will consist of a large book warehouse on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince that will hold over 500,000 items made accessible to over 20,000 students, researchers, and professors through a distance lending service. Considering that Haitian universities had little Internet access and could collectively only access 10,000 books a day before the earthquake, the Ruche will represent an enormous milestone and undoubtedly energize Haiti’s university reconstruction process. It will also play an instrumental role in facilitating research, innovation and quality education for Haiti’s brightest individuals who will help put Haiti on the path to sustainable development. (For more information, please visit www.ruche-haiti.org.)
In light of these successes and worthwhile projects, LWB calls on the international community to continue supporting Haiti and Haitians. It is more necessary than ever to continue working alongside them as they move forward and rebuild their country. LWB will continue in this direction for the years the come.
Amy Hong • France • firstname.lastname@example.org • +33 (0)1 43 25 75 61
Anthony Chase • United States • email@example.com • +1 (269) 870-6127