This is what happened exactly 200 years ago: Jamaica is bursting at the seams with 300,000 enslaved Africans. Haiti is the only true land of the free and the brave, having defeated in battle the enslavers of France, Britain, and Spain before becoming in 1804 the first free state in the western world.
President Jean-Jacques Dessalines, enshrined within the 1805 national constitution, the most humane and politically powerful provision: Any enslaved person of African descent who arrives on the shores of Haiti is automatically freed and a citizen of Haiti.
I am coming back from my trip to Haiti.
I was invited by our GNU Health representative in Haiti, Augustin Pierre Michel.
Haiti is a country of brave men and women who stand strong fighting for their dignity.
A friend of mine from Jamaica told me once to dig into the history of Haiti, and the importance it had in the freedom of human kind.
I found particularly captivating the article “Our debt to Haiti”, from Sir Hilary Beckles. A passage from that article:
Quick digression.. After reading this article, I would love Mr. Jean-Jaques Dessalines to reincarnate and to sit down with all the politicians that want to build walls of shame, and give them a lesson of humanity and ethics.
Two hundred years afterwards, over 40 million women, men and children are victims of modern slavery. The modern world has slavery, slave owners and “human properties” . Just look at what is happening in the Mediterranean and how migrants are abused and raped in Libya concentration camps. Another way of slavering is how children are used in clothing factories in Bangladesh, that make billionaires in Europe. Appalling.
The Freedom passage
Going back to the history of Haiti …
The Freedom passage named the 170 miles that separated those 300,000 slaves from freedom. The distance between Jamaica and Haiti.
Thousands of women, men and children would risk their live to reach freedom. Similiar to those who do it daily trying to cross the Mediterranean sea in Europe or the Rio Grande in America.
GNU Health mission in Haiti
Back to Haiti… I stayed at Hopital Bon Samaritain (HBS) in the city of Limbé, where we shared time with the colleagues at the hospital. The health institution not only serves as the reference hospital in the region, but also, as a orphanage. The work they do in the areas of Social Medicine is amazing.
The kids at the HPS orphanage receive education, health and psychological support, as well as food and accommodation throughout the year. It was great sharing time, breakfast, lunch and dinner with them !
We also got to visit other health institutions in the area interested in implementing GNU Health.
The world can not turn its back on Haiti
Yes. Today Haiti is a impoverish country with civil unrest, and the world is turning the back on Haiti. Haiti exists and we must cooperate with its brave men and women of to bring back dignity to that beautiful country.
Since the moment I put a foot in Cape Haitien, I felt the warmth of their people. Their noble smile and their genuine gestures of hospitality from Michel, his mom and the rest of the Haitian colleagues.
Michel is an example of resilience. Not only he is a great computer engineer, but he represents commitment and congruence. He decided to stay in Haiti, and fight for the much needed freedom, prosperity and peace in his country.
I am honored to have Michel Pierre as our GNU Health ambassador in Haiti, and looking forward to many implementations in the country. It has been an experience that I cannot describe with words. You must see for yourself to understand the situation in Haiti.
And yes, I agree with Sir Hilary Beckles, we, the rest of the World are in debt with Haiti. Is now our time to cooperate with our Haitians brothers and sisters, when they need us most.
References / Further reading:
1.- Our debt to Haiti: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Our-debt-to-Haiti_77305
2.- Global Slavery Index: https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/2018/findings/global-findings/