Where We Stand

As anthropology students, what do we think is the most effective intervention to help eliminate cholera in Haiti?  

Researching both news and anthropological sources has exposed us to multiple perspectives on supplying aid to Haiti.  News articles discussed how large humanitarian organizations, such as the United Nations, placed troops in Haiti to help deliver food, water, and sanitation.  These articles also pleaded for citizens in the Global North to donate money to help “Save Haiti”.  This portrayal made Haiti appear victimized, weak, and desperate for help.

The high frequency that news sources reported about the cholera outbreak in Haiti contributed to the initial outpour in aid donations.  In the first week, non-governmental and humanitarian organizations received hundreds of millions of dollars in aid.  The exploitation of Haiti led to Haiti receiving aid; however, the most vulnerable Haitians were not the ones receiving the aid.

Through reading Schuller’s work, we realized how anthropology is an important tool in critically analyzing aid approaches in disaster recovery.  Schuller spoke with the aid recipients themselves to learn the on-the-ground realities.  Through these discussions, he learned what type of aid Haitians truly needed and the best ways to provide it.  Moreover, his participate observation and active engagement in the community, enabled him to gain trustworthy relationships with Haitian individuals.

Building trust in order to rebuild a nation

In order for humanitarian assistance and NGO’s to provide the most effective help and aid to Haiti, they must respect the independence and autonomy of the nation.  Through building a trustful relationship, aid can be delivered and received in ways that sustain and contribute to the creation of a stronger country.  Through establishing these types of relationships, aid donations will not simply be “band-aid” approaches, but will attempt to  help solve structural problems, which are the root of many health inequities throughout Haiti and the world.