Thoughts from John Porter

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Upon leaving Haiti, former Attorney General Ramsey Clark once said, “The history of Haiti will break your heart. Knowing it, the weak will always despair, but the caring will strive to break the chains of tragedy.” These simple words provide the motivation for our work in this beautiful yet so tragic land. The Miami Herald often has timely articles about life in Haiti. Journalist Dieu Nalio Chery recently offered a sobering assessment. “Life in Haiti, where more than half the people are trying to survive on less than $2.00 a day, has always been difficult but these are particularly tough times. The rising US dollar has made high inflation worse and driven up the price of basic goods that are already expensive. The country is also dealing with another period of political uncertainty, struggling to resolve a political impasse and elect a president after last year’s election was declared invalid because of fraud.” Haiti was not always this way nor was she ever meant to be. When Columbus landed on the island in December 1492, he found a native population (Arawaks or Taino) of over 3,000,000 people, well fed, with cultivated lands, living in peace. It was one of the largest and most vibrant populations of any place on earth. Just 22 years later, as a result of Spanish brutality and savagery, fewer than 25000 existed and these few would soon succumb to murder, forced labor, and diseases heretofore unknown to them. By 1542, the entire indigenous population had vanished. The miserable legacy of Spanish colonialism is all too familiar. For those privileged to work in Haiti, her people are all too beautiful. Her children are the most beautiful children on earth. She is the second oldest Republic in our Hemisphere. Haiti has survived in spite of odds so adverse no one can calculate. Attorney General Clark was right. Those who care will strive to break the chains of this tragedy. Every gift to Forging Futures will serve that noble purpose.

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