Pitch Story – Haiti
I am a student in your international reporting class and I want to cover a story on the education in Haiti and how it is sadly dwindling. Most of the news that comes out of Haiti is about the tragedy that hits the country year after year, but rarely does the news really focus on how it is hitting the people of the country. This is especially true for the youngest population of the country.
When most people envision the state of Haiti, the are brought back to that image of people living in tents and eating mudcakes, because after the 2010 earthquake, they had no means of survival. What many don’t know is that this is still the situation in Haiti, so when more calamities strike, the situation becomes drastically worse. And for the children growing up in such a state of disrepair, school is the only thing they look forward to. Unfortunately, there are barely any schools in Haiti for these children, much less schools that can properly hold all the students that they want to. Classes can be packed with more than 50 children of all ages, basic necessities like a bathroom and plumbing is rare, and teachers cannot be paid; essentially doing volunteer work.
According to sionfondsforhaiti, Haiti as a whole has only 15, 200 primary schools, of which 90% are non-public and managed by communities, religious organizations, or NGOs. The enrollment rate for primary school is 67%, and fewer than 30% reach 6th grade. Secondary schools enroll 20% of eligible-age children. The January earthquake was a major setback for education reform in Haiti. Literacy levels continue to hover around 50 percent. Haiti is one of the lowest-ranked countries in the world, 177th out of 186, for national spending on education.
I spoke to Pastor Mario Agustave, the founder of the Voices For Haiti Project who has started many projects within the country along with education reform like medical assistance, housing development, and evangelistic outreach. There he is helping the people of his country who need it the most. He spoke to me about his most recent trip to Haiti last summer and the state the country is in. He especially focused on a school that the Voices For Haiti Project had help build and fund along with the government. It is an elementary school that holds over 50 children in one building the size of a regular classroom. “It is a place where the children can forget about the struggles at home with their family, and have fun learning math, singing songs, playing in the field, and being able to have a meal everyday,”Agustave says. But of course, although the children are happy it is not the most ideal situation. There is no access to water, more classrooms are need and teachers need to be paid.
This is not just a problem for the school the Voices For Haiti Project has built up, but a problem for most schools in the country. Without education, the country’s future is still bleak, and more need to know just how much Haiti needs help, not just with clothes and food, but with education as well.
Beat Memo – Haiti
The history of Haiti is a long one, that starts with the original Native Americans that lived there. The island, which currently is Haiti and the Dominican Republic, was inhabited by the Taino or Arawak people before Christopher Columbus stumbled upon the island, and called the island Ayti. After struggling through slavery, fighting for independence from France, becoming their own country, and going through corrupt government after corrupt government, Haiti is now in a state of disrepair as the poorest nation in the Caribbean, where they need help from the outside.
Languages: French and Haitian Creole
Religion: Catholicism, Catholic Voodoo, and Protestantism
News Outlets: Le Nouvelliste , Haiti United Press, Haïti Progrès , Haiti Liberté
Some current events that are in Haiti are their recovery after the 2010 earthquake, the 2011 cholera outbreak, and the Hurricane that hit Haiti last year. It is as if they don’t receive a break in natural disasters.
The immigrant community in New York is a thriving one, with many of them owning their own businesses in areas like Flatbush. Because this neighborhood is so densely packed with Haitians, the language spoken in the street is more commonly Haitian Creole than it is English.
Voice Of America
Voice of America is a government run news organization that does radio, television, and internet outside of America in English and in other foreign languages. It was founded 75 years ago, on February 1, 1942, during World War 2. Much later, under the Ford administration, it received its own charter and is allocated funds every year by congress.
VOA has gone through three controversies over the years, one being an interview with Taliban leader Mullah Omar Mohammad, which angered some, stating that it was giving terrorists the right to express their views. Either way, the report received the Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism.
In February 2013, a documentary released by China Central Television interviewed a Tibetan self-immolator who failed to kill himself. The man said Voice of America’s broadcasts of commemorations of people who committed suicide in political self-immolation encouraged him, but VOA denied the allegations.
The country I would love to cover is Haiti as I already have connections to this community. Being half-Haitian, I am quickly aware of the many of the stories that are happening in Haiti and the struggles that not only the people in the country are facing, but also the struggles the immigrant population in New York is facing.
Some good and possible stories that I can focus on is the natural disasters that have hit Haiti almost every year; how they are affected, and how they are trying to build themselves back up. Another story that I can focus on is the Clinton Foundation and the scandal that was brought up in regards to the money that was raised towards Haiti relief. I know that many Haitians did not vote this last election because they felt betrayed by the Clintons. Thirdly, a good story to talk about is the new government that is in place in Haiti now, after the election, and what Haitian New Yorkers think about the Haitian president now.