Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Travesty In Haiti": The truth about Christian missions, food aid, etc

When being interviewed by Southern Baptist pastor Marty Duren (links below), Timothy T. Schwartz, author of Travesty in Haiti: A true account of Christian missions, orphanages, food aid, fraud and drug trafficking, was asked:

"What percentage of the orphanages in Haiti are being run legitimately?"

His answer? "I suspect none."

Haitian human rights lawyer and activist Marguerite Laurent (link below) called Travesty in Haiti "the best book that's been written by a foreigner on Haiti since forever."

  • Review by Ezili Dantò "Ezili Dantò (colonially named 'Marguerite Laurent') is a Haitian woman as inspired, guided, and directed by the strength, legacy and visions of the Haitian warrior goddess, Ezili Dantò." [from her website bio]
  • Review by Marty Duren Marty Duren is Southern Baptist pastor who describes himself as "a bedrock theological conservative".

  • Excerpt from Ezili Dantò's review:
"Schwartz has rendered a service here not because there’s authentic value in being a foreigner’s FIELDWORK. For the sum of the parts do not equal the whole and being someone’s fieldwork is in itself a condescension. But Schwartz’s book reports on his own tribe’s corruption in Haiti and that, indeed, is of value to Haitians.

"The book is a must read for anyone interested in hearing the truth about Haiti. Schwartz's contribution is a guidepost to those working for charities, working in the development and foreign aid industries who accept corruption and mediocrity because it's part of the status quo, "it's a job." It's laughably idealistic to wish for accountability, honesty, grace and dignity from the folks at USAID, World Bank, the Christian missions and those "doing good" in Haiti for more than a-half century now, but if just a few people, if one person working in the human rights field who read this book began to re-evaluate and nixed the profit-over-people trend of these failed-State-making-organizations, the world, humanity would breathe that much easier .... the best book that's been written by a foreigner on Haiti since forever."

  • Excerpt from Marty Duren's interview with Timothy T. Schwartz:
"It is not about developing Haiti. It is about developing US business interests; which is fine. Haitians don’t vote for US politicians. But the problem–and this is the point that I hope I make most forcefully in the book–concerns the organizations that claim they are working for the poorest of poor; it’s simply not true. They are working for the US, French, German, and Canadian special interests. And they all know this.

"These organizations are staffed by an almost uniformly good bunch of people. People who set out to help, who wanted to change the world, alleviate poverty, but they got caught up in the industry of aid and those dreams get swept away and replaced by hope for a salary raise, a pension plan, a promotion, better working conditions. This is where the biggest frustration comes in for me.

"Back in the US there is a whole different set of good people who are sending in donations and voting for these organizations, cheering them on. They are doing this because they think the money is going to help the poor and hungry and illiterate overseas. They aren’t donating money so that it can pay some other American or German a middle to upper class salary and pension plan or so the director of CARE can send his children to a $25,000 per year private school. They are giving that money to help the poor in other countries…and it just ain’t happening.

"These other good people, the NGO employees who are the recipients of most the aid, seem powerless to change things and then, as time and their careers progress, less and less disposed to try to change it.

"Yeah, that’s frustrating. But US policy, ideally, should focus on helping other countries develop. I can understand why it doesn’t since politics is politics and corporate interests tend to be first.

"My beef is with the civil/NGO sector. They are the ones we finance to defend and help the poor. They need to be held accountable. They need to do what they say they are going to do."