Edwidge Danticat: Haitians Are Helping Themselves

The award-winning writer and activist says the story of Haiti's home-grown efforts have gotten lost in the shuffle.

Posted: 01/11/2013 05:14 PM EST

As Haiti and the rest of the world reflects on the progress the country has made in the three years since the devastating earthquake hit, there is bound to be more discourse and finger-wagging about things like foreign donors, foreign-based organizations and government accountability to the financial backers of Haiti’s recovery.

But among the chatter, award-winning Haitian writer and activist Edwidge Danticat says it’s important to consider the important work that Haitians have done on their own behalf to stimulate recovery.

In an interview with BET.com about her latest children’s book that is part of a charitable effort to get Haitian books in the hands of Haitian children, she made clear that there is another side to the prevailing Haiti relief narrative.

“Everyone is trying to do what they can,” she told BET.com. “When you go to Haiti, whether you are in an urban area or to the countryside, you see that Haitians are doing for themselves.”

Danticat referenced a northern Haitian town called Cazayon where she saw young people who started after-school programs for other youth and passionate adults working hard to keep local schools open and get teachers trained.

“I’m most inspired by what people there are doing on the grassroots level for themselves. Because we often hear the narrative of what outsiders are doing for Haiti but we never really see that story of Haitians helping themselves,” she said.

The writer lost some of her own family members in the 2010 tragedy and said that although this is a difficult time of year, she finds solace in knowing that Haitians are working toward a better country.

“Sometimes they need a little help and sometimes they need a lot of help, but people are very self-motivated. They’re working hard to move the country forward.”

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(Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

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