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Heart of Haiti (Part III)




Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Château de Versailles

So I’m here in Paris on holiday and I just got back from spending the day at Château de Versailles (aka the Palace of Versailles), well known in European history as the home of - among other kings - King Louis XIV and later, Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France. And while this might seem like a rather far-fetched comparison to some, I cannot help but wonder about and compare the late 17th century Palace of Versailles to the National Palace in Haiti.


Haiti's National Palace
before the January 2010 earthquake
Every Haitian deserves a home.
Not merely because I have Haiti on my mind or because they both share French architecture, but because both of these palaces and the royals living in them existed in their splendor with the poor living right outside of their respective palace gates. Of course, the French Revolution in 1789 ended with a march by the people on Versailles driving the royals back to Paris while the devastating earthquake in January 2010 has closed the doors of Haiti’s National Palace…for now. My personal hope is that the National Palace is not rebuilt before Haitians have a place to call home. That of course would be a travesty.

Because I am here in France and because of the common language shared between Haiti and France and the history between the two as well, I’ve been curious for the past several weeks about the number of Haitians in France (one report says 50,000; another says 80,000) and how the Haitian community here might be faring in light of the tragedy. And although I was able to get an approximation of the Haitian population (ethnic and religious census documents are illegal in France), I haven’t been able to find out too much otherwise. What I do know is that France offered to rebuild Haiti’s National Palace and pledged over $326 million euros over the next two years to help rebuild after the earthquake. But like many other people around the world overwhelmed by the lack of progress in Haiti, I wonder “Where exactly did the money go?”

As an Ambassador for Heart of Haiti, I wholeheartedly buy in to the “trade not aid” philosophy and I think you should too. The fact that Fairwinds Trading along with their partners BrandAid and the amazing artisans of Haiti were able to design, develop, produce and bring to market approximately 20,000 hand-crafted Haitian items within 100 days for Heart of Haiti is not only incredible, but terribly important. You see, this project provided immediate employment for 235 artisans and has generated income for packers, suppliers and shippers, and has significantly improved the lives of 2,100 individuals. And all of this has occurred through trade.

My trip here in France will ultimately come to an end, but my feelings for Haiti will not. And since this is the season of giving, I would like to encourage you to open your heart and give to Haiti by purchasing meaningful holiday gifts from the Heart of Haiti Collection at Macy’s. This way, you will know exactly where your hard earned money has gone. Vive Haiti!

2 comments:

Anonymous on: December 15, 2010 at 1:40 PM said...

Really interesting article. Hope to see same more!

Anonymous on: December 30, 2010 at 2:37 AM said...

I like this site. Really nice place for all

 

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