Dr. Claire-Marie Cyprien Is Making a difference in Haiti


Haitian Diaspora Sees an Opening

Source: The Wall Street Journal


PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti—Five days after the earthquake devastated the Haitian capital, Claire-Marie Cyprien stepped into a terrifying scene at the General Hospital.

Young children and old men lay on thin, filthy mattresses. Some screamed, others were silent. The hospital’s Haitian staff was barely in evidence. Volunteers from France and the U.S. rushed from patient to patient.

The Haiti Comeback

Julie Platner for The Wall Street JournalDr. Claire-Marie Cyprien returned to Haiti to help treat earthquake victims.

One emaciated man, eyes closed, writhed on the blood- and feces-streaked floor wearing nothing but a thin towel at his waist. A team of French doctors attended to a toddler whose left leg had been amputated above the knee.

Swamped by the tide of suffering, Dr. Cyprien walked up to a French doctor and told him there should be more surgeries, faster. He bristled at the woman suddenly giving him orders. “Are you from here?” he asked.

“I’m from the United States,” said Dr. Cyprien, a 43-year-old anesthesiologist who three days earlier had dropped her practice in Orlando, Fla., to rush to Haiti, the land of her birth. “And I’m a doctor.”

The U.S. is readying for a mass of refugees fleeing the disaster. But a small, well-educated and determined group of Haitians including Dr. Cyprien is heading the other way, into the country from abroad.

Both Haitians and members of the international community say diaspora Haitians represent a reservoir of talent and money that could be put to work in the country’s reconstruction. The Organization of American States said it is organizing a meeting, likely for early March, to bring together Haitian diaspora groups in the U.S., Canada, France and the Dominican Republic to help Haiti.

For generations, Haiti’s chaos, corruption and poverty pushed out many of its most talented people. Haiti has a population of about nine million, but as many as two million more Haitians live abroad, about half a million of them in the U.S. The diaspora—Haitians refer to the émigrés as Haiti’s “Tenth Province”—sends about $2 billion a year home, a sum equal to about 30% of the country’s gross domestic product.

Despite the money, émigrés have often been regarded warily by those who stayed behind. Emigration may offer a way to climb up or break out of Haiti’s rigid class structure. But new wealth inspires jealousy, while distance from the motherland opens émigrés to accusations that they aren’t as “authentic” as those who never left.

Émigrés are sometimes considered “arrogant, insensitive, overbearing and pretentious people,” writes Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian-American author. And many suspect their political ambitions. The 1987 constitution strips Haitians who take citizenship elsewhere of their Haitian citizenship, preventing them from running for office or voting.

“We diaspora, not too many people like us,” says Hilda Alcindor, a nurse who left Haiti for America and stayed 30 years before returning. “But we are needed.”

Officials here say that if Haiti is going to rebuild, the efforts of people like Dr. Cyprien will be crucial.

“The diaspora will play a key role rebuilding Haiti,” says Gérard Brun, who heads the country’s largest construction company and has been tapped by President René Préval to help plan the Port-au-Prince rebuilding effort.

For now, the exodus of talent stands to continue. Aside from the general destruction, Port-au-Prince’s devastated schools have little prospect of opening soon, and many in Haiti’s tiny middle class are likely to send their children abroad to study. That makes luring diaspora Haitians even more important, says Mr. Brun, who advocates a constitutional amendment to let them vote and run for office.

Even before January’s earthquake, economists who have been studying how to fix the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country have agreed the diaspora is one of Haiti’s most important assets. Émigrés “provide Haiti with a massive flow of remittances, a reservoir of skills and a powerful political lobby,” wrote Oxford University economist Paul Collier in a report to the United Nations secretary-general last year.

Dr. Cyprien sees the relationship to her former country in stark terms. “Haiti is a country that has been depleted of natural resources and whose human resources are outside the country,” she says.

Energetic and commanding, Dr. Cyprien was nevertheless momentarily stymied by the chaos around her that Sunday at the hospital. She couldn’t find a surgeon to work with. One of the two makeshift operating tables was occupied by a large man with a festering leg wound who hadn’t been prepped for surgery. “That leg smells like a dead body,” she confided, as she rushed out to find the man’s family so they could move him off the table and free it up for operations.

Worse was to come. Later in the afternoon, another patient appeared: Dr. Cyprien’s older sister, Marie Lourdes Borno, 56. Ms. Borno had escaped the Ministry of Education as the building collapsed around her, but both her hands had been badly injured. Days later, they developed gangrene. There was nothing to do but to amputate. Dr. Cyprien applied the anesthesia in the makeshift ward as her sister’s hands were cut off.

The evening of the operation, Dr. Cyprien’s usual energy had left her. “It was necessary and I did it,” she said.

That same day, 20 miles from the bedlam of the General Hospital in the outlying city of Léogâne, Ms. Alcindor, the nurse, was getting down to work. Elementary schools were crushed, hospitals flattened. In three days, more than 1,000 people had been buried in mass graves. Local police estimated there were another 10,000 dead buried among the ruins.

Ms. Alcindor had come to Léogâne from Miami in 2005 to become dean of the city’s U.S.-funded nursing college. Until international aid arrived five days after the quake in the form of two volunteer doctors, Ms. Alcindor and her battalion of nurses and nursing students had provided practically the only medical care.

The students’ performance, Ms. Alcindor said, vindicated a promise to return to Haiti she had made to her father years earlier. “There was a calling, coming back,” she said. “To give whatever I have left.”

Ms. Alcindor said she is in debt to the U.S., where she was educated and brought up her daughters. She had made a comfortable living working as an emergency-room nurse in Miami’s Mount Sinai Hospital, among others.

“I am here because of the knowledge I gained in the United States,” she said, standing amid a makeshift tent city in front of the nursing school.

But she also owed something to Haiti. “This is what I am saying to Haitian-Americans: They need to get organized and come back. This is their country,” she said. “The reconstruction of this country needs the skills of Haitian-Americans, Haitian-Canadians, Haitian-French. We need to redo the whole thing.”

Now back in Orlando, where she has taken her sister, Dr. Cyprien said she plans to return to Haiti as many times as she can to help out, especially as international interest inevitably wanes.

The daughter of a justice of the peace, Dr. Cyprien left Haiti for the U.S. as a teenager—the best decision her parents ever made, she said. She attended community college, worked her way through medical school and established a practice in Florida.

Although she owns several properties in the U.S., Dr. Cyprien still dreams about building her retirement home on a plot of land she has bought in Jacmel, an old coffee port and artists’ retreat that, with iron-grille houses imported from France in the 19th century, used to look like a bit of Paris misplaced on the Caribbean. All that is gone.

“I want Haiti to stabilize so I can build on it,” she says.


Haitian-American Author, Edwidge Danticat Won the the prestigious MacArthur Foundation fellowship

Haiti-born writer Edwidge Danticat has won the prestigious MacArthur Foundation fellowship, which comes with $500,000.



Miami writer Edwidge Danticat was holding her 9-month-old daughter, Leila, while trying to read the computer screen when the phone rang.

“Are you sitting down?” the caller asked.

“Yes. I am holding my baby,” she said.

“Put the baby down.”

An award-winning author who was born in Haiti, Danticat, 40, learned she had just won the biggest honor of her career: the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation `Genius Award,’ which carries a $500,000 “no strings attached” prize.

“I am extremely grateful,” said an ecstatic Danticat, one of 24 winners named this year as a fellowship winner. “I am still wrapping my brain around it, trying to see how I can do it justice.”

Daniel Socolow, who directs the fellows program and called Danticat with the news, said the writer emerged from a pool of hundreds of creative leaders, nominated by individuals for their creative genius and potential.

The final selection, he said, was made by an anonymous 12-member committee and after writing “thousands and thousands of other people about them.”

In addition to Danticat, this year’s winners include Jill Seaman of Sudan, an infectious-disease specialist, Lynsey Addario of Turkey, a photojournalist, and Peter Huybers of Massachusetts, a climate scientist at Harvard.

“We look at the work they’ve done, but at the end of the day it’s a calculation this is somebody worthy of our investment,” Socolow said. “We don’t know what they will do next; we just know they are likely to do something spectacular. It is betting on their future.”

Socolow said Danticat, a compelling novelist known for capturing human endurance and perseverance through her books, “has wonderful promise yet ahead to do even more powerfully what she does.”

Danticat made her debut as a novelist in 1994 with Breath, Eyes, Memory. In all, she has written eight books, recently finished a collection of essays and is working on a new novel.

HAITIAN LIFEThrough her works, she has amassed a wide range of fans with her simple prose and themes of isolation, human struggle, cultural survival — all set against the complex backdrop of Haiti’s complex history and immigrant life.


Her most recent book was the semi-autobiographical Brother, I’m Dying. The memoir is a tribute to her 81-year-old uncle, Joseph Dantica, a minister who fled to Miami seeking refuge from Haiti’s political and gang-ridden turmoil only to die in the custody of U.S. immigration authorities. His plight and life are chronicled through Danticat’s memories as a child growing up in Haiti under his care. The book won the National Book Critics Circle Award, among others.

Past notable winners including Dr. Paul Farmer, a Harvard anthropologist and infectious-disease specialist who won the award in 1993 for his work combating HIV/AIDS in Haiti.

`IT LIBERATES YOU’As a writer, Danticat says she always yearns for the time and peace of mind as she brings her characters — ordinary people facing hardship and struggle — to life. This award gives her that, she said.


“What this does is it liberates you to really concentrate on your work,” she said. “I have always tried to pace myself not to live extravagantly, so I can earn the time I need to write.”

After receiving the news, Danticat said she gasped, then called her husband Faidherbe “Fedo” Boyer and told him the news. He and daughter Mira were the only ones who knew for a week.

Her mother, who lives in New York, only learned the news Monday.

Meanwhile, she says she has no idea who nominated her, but is extremely grateful.

“You just get this call one day,” she said. “It is so gratifying to know people out there think I deserve more time to work.”

Source: Miami Herald http://www.miamiherald.com/news/top-stories/story/1245126.html





8:00 AM – 12:00 PM Exhibits/Vendor/Sponsor Check in – Bay Room
9:00 AM – 1:00 PM Sponsor/Vendor/Sponsor Check in – Bay Room
3:00 PM – 10:00 PM Registration – Bay Room
3:00 PM – 10:00 PM Lost and Found – Bay Room
3:00 PM – 7:00 PM VIP Room – Ocean Room
3:00 PM – 7:00 PM Sponsor Open – Bay Room
3:00 PM – 7:00 PM Registration/Technology Café
5:00 PM – 7:00 PM REGISTRATION – Experts and Community leaders will address the Challenges of the Haitian Diaspora and the Daunting Sustainable Economic Development of Haiti
7:00 PM – 10:00 PM WELCOME, celebrations, get-to-know-you reception.

FRIDAY AUGUST 7 th, 2009

7:00 AM – 7:50 Registration, Breakfast, Get to Know You.
7:50 AM – 8:00 AM Invocation
8:00 AM – 8:40 AM The State of the Country
9:00 AM – 10:30 AM Panel A1: Boosting Agriculture
Panel B1: Improving Water Management
10:40 AM – 12:00 PM Panel A2: Restoring Forests and Ecology
Panel B2: Education & Health
12:00 PM – 12:50 PM Lunch & Entertainment
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM Panel A3: Repairing and Extending Infrastructure
Panel B3: Stimulating and Preparing Tourism
2:30 PM – 4:00 PM Panel A4: Promoting Artisanal and Ecotourism Industries
Panel B4: Literacy and vocational Training as arms to Sustained Job Creation
4:00 PM – 4:50 PM Diaspora Remittances & sustained development, Solidarity Fund.
“Haiti Center for Facilitation of Investments” Reception


7:00 AM – 7:50 AM Faith based Breakfast – The Role of The church
8:00 AM – 08:40 AM Roll Call by States or countries and Reports on the 2008 Congress Resolutions
9:00 AM – 10:30 AM Panel A5: Diaspora Immersion / Integration / Education / Health
Panel B5: Economic Development & Business
10:40 AM – 12:00 PM Panel A6: Overcoming Immigration & Justice inequalities
Panel B6: Civic Involvement
12:00 PM – 12:50 PM Lunch and Entertainment
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM Panel A7 : Future Leaders Round table (Diaspora & Haiti’s Youth)
Panel B7: Dual National, Diaspora Vote in Haiti’s Elections, Safe Return.
2:30 PM – 4:00 PM Diaspora Youth Challenges: Drop outs, violence, gangs, Deportees.
4:00 PM – 4:40 PM Deliberations and closing remarks.
8:00 PM – 1:00 AM Diner Award Gal Celebrations.


8:00 AM – 11:00 AM Government Officials, Donors and Investors’ roundtable

Haitian Studies Association 2009 Conference

The Haitian Studies Association’s 2009 conference is scheduled for November 12-14 , 2009 on the beautiful campus of Indiana University  (Bloomington, Indiana ). The present theme is as follows

New Ecologies: Actualizing Global Contributions and Development in Haiti 

Call for Papers:  Click here to download English version!
Cliquez ici pour lécharger la version française!



EXTENDED DEADLINE for submission of proposals:
JUNE 30, 2009

Clinton vows to help Haitians chart destiny

Thursday, June 18, 2009 5:19 AM
“Bob Corbett” <corbetre@webster.edu>

Add sender to Contacts

“Bob Corbett’s Haiti list” <haiti@lists.webster.edu>
From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Posted on Tue, Jun. 16, 2009
Clinton vows to help Haitians chart destiny

Haiti’s newest envoy made his first pitch on behalf of the impoverished Carribbean nation Monday, outlining an ambitious list of priorities he plans to tackle on behalf of the United Nations.

”I’ll do my best. It’s a formidable task,” former President Bill Clinton said at a U.N. news conference in New York alongside U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Haitian Foreign Minister Alrich Nicolas. “This is the best chance that Haitians have ever had.”

Clinton did not say when he will make his first visit to Haiti as U.N. special envoy but his focus comes as Haitian President René Préval tries to avert yet another political crisis.

A decision last month by Haiti’s parliament to raise the country’s minimum wage from $1.70 to $4.90 a day has triggered weeks of protests by a group that characterizes itself as state university students.

Last week, as Préval attempted to negotiate a compromise between the country’s leading business owners and lawmakers, protesters erected barricades, burned tires and stoned government and private vehicles around the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince. They are demanding that Préval sign the legislation — or face whatever comes.

Protesters even attacked Haitian Prime Minister Michèle Pierre-Louis’ student-oriented nongovernmental organization in Port-au-Prince. At least two dozen people have been arrested so far, and police say most are not students.

The issue has become a political football for Préval’s opponents, raising suspicions among foreign diplomats and others that the demonstrations may be less about raising the minimum wage and more an effort to destabilize the government by forcing the resignation of Pierre-Louis, Préval or both.

A study by Haiti’s garment industry argues that the wage increase would immediately cost the country’s ailing assembly industry 14,000 jobs and kill any chances of Haiti benefiting from the U.S. Congress-approved HOPE II legislation that Clinton, Ban and others have been championing as a way to create desperately needed jobs. The legislation, which already has created 11,000 new jobs, gives Haiti duty-free access to the U.S. textile market for woven and knit clothing made in Haiti using fabrics from countries outside the Western Hemisphere.

”This proposal as is would be the death of HOPE,” Georges Sassine, Haiti’s point man on the legislation said Monday soon after leaving another round of negotiations with Préval at the presidential palace.


Clinton did not address the controversy at his news conference, instead focusing on outlining his goals in the coming months as a special envoy reporting to the U.N. secretary general. He does not intend to personally staff the Haiti office nor involve himself in the U.N.’s or Haiti’s day-to-day operations.

”We will continue to elevate awareness of both the pain and the promise of Haiti in the international community and that there are real genuine economic opportunities there,” he said, dismissing reports in the Haitian media that his $1-a-year job was part of an imperialistic plot to take over Haiti.

“All I want to do is help the Haitians take over control of their own destiny. That’s all I have ever wanted for Haiti. That’s all the secretary general wants.”

To help accomplish this, Clinton said he plans on helping the hurricane-ravaged nation rebuild by attracting private investors and alternative energy sources, encouraging better coordination among thousands of nongovernmental organizations already working on the ground, and getting the international community to ante up the $353 million in pledges it promised at April’s donors conference in Washington.

”We want to encourage the donors to honor the commitments they have already made at the donor’s conference,” Clinton said.
But getting donors to ante up their pledges may be the least of the former president’s or Haiti’s challenges.
”The current upheaval shows how much resentment toward the Préval government still lingers below the surface, driven by the government’s inability to resolve the pressing economic distress facing the country,” said Daniel Erikson, a Caribbean expert with the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington.

”No one can doubt Bill Clinton‘s ability to mobilize the attention and resources of the international community on behalf of Haiti. The question is whether he can somehow help to create an environment where the Haitians themselves can work together to effect positive change in their country,” he added.
“On the basis of the current upheaval, this is a monumental, and perhaps impossible, task.”


Observers say while Préval believes Haitians need to make a livable wage, he is concerned about how the minimum-wage increase will take away Haiti’s competitive edge as it tries to lure textile companies to its shores.

In hopes of reaching a compromise, Préval has spent the past week leading all-day negotiations. On Monday, some business leaders said he had come up with a plan that would give an immediate boost to garment workers by raising entry level pay to $2.40 a day with room to earn more for top producers. All other industries would get the $4.90 minimum wage.

But two lawmakers pushing the increase — Deputy Steven Benoit of the lower house, and Senate President Kely Bastien — both told The Miami Herald that after three days of meetings with Préval the issue still is not settled. ”There is no compromise. We are still waiting on the president to send his proposal,” Benoit said.

Special correspondent Stewart Stogel contributed to this report from the United Nations.

© 2009 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.

Edwidge Danticat Wins Nicolas Guillen Prize

 Date: Thu, 11 Jun 2009 15:33:33 -0700
Subject: Nicolas Guillen Prize
From: caribphil2@gmail.com
To: caribphil2@gmail.com

Dear CPA members and friends,

I am delighted to inform you that the winner of the 2009 Caribbean Philosophical Association’s Nicolás Guillén Prize is Edwidge Danticat.  Danticat is a prominent writer who was born in Haiti and came to the United States when she was twelve.    She earned a degree in French literature from Barnard College, and an MFA from Brown University.  Her works include Breath, Eyes, Memory, Krik? Krak!, and Dew Breaker, among others.  She has won several prizes for her work including the American Book Award for The Farming of the Bones.  And her 2007 Brother, I’m Dying was a finalist for the National Book Award.  We hope to count with her presence in Miami!


Here is a link: http://voices.cla.umn.edu/vg/Bios/entries/danticat_edwidge.html




Nelson Maldonado-Torres

CPA President