|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?”