Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Haiti and Thanksgiving....by Tonya

An article by Tonya Sneed published in the Peoria Journal Star, November 21, 2008.

PEORIA — On Thanksgiving, while Americans raise their cholesterol feasting on hormone-fed turkeys raised in horrendous conditions, another atrocity is taking place. Children in Baie d'Orange, Haiti, are starving.

It's official that at least 26 children have died from severe malnutrition, a direct result of the four tropical storms and hurricanes that ravaged Haiti in August and September.

Their deaths are connected to us in ways too numerous to count. As one of many examples, consider that the U.S. government has in recent years "liberalized" Haiti's trade. Just a few decades ago, almost all the rice purchased and sold in Haiti was grown there. Now more than 80 percent of the rice purchased and sold in Haiti was grown in the U.S. Through the dumping of our heavily subsidized rice into their market, we have destroyed Haiti's food security and have run an untold number of peasant farmers out of business.

In short, we have made Haitians more hungry, not less, and have forced them to rely on the whims of the international markets.

Consider global warming. The experts agree that global warming won't necessarily cause more hurricanes, but the hurricanes themselves will come with greater intensity. That seems to be the case. My friends in Jacmel, near Baie d'Orange, have never seen such devastation. It's a cruel irony that the poorest of the poor, who don't eat much meat and who don't drive cars - things that contribute substantially to global warming - are the ones who are suffering the most as a result of the changes in global temperatures.

Consider the elephant in the room: our despicable use of public funds. We spend more than $1 billion every day on the wars and the Pentagon's budget, and yet give Haiti pennies in aid. If we could take one day off from this insanity, no one would need to starve. A billion dollars would make all the difference in the world to the people of Baie d'Orange and to all of Haiti.

But there isn't any profit for Blackwater, KBR and the other war profiteers in feeding Venecia Lonis, a 4-year-old from Baie d'Orange whose tiny body is so miserably emaciated that even our mainstream media could no longer ignore her. Perhaps the only real hope for Venecia is that this Thanksgiving we Americans open our eyes to the harsh and bitter realities of this world, especially those that are of our government's making, and demand change.

Tonya Sneed


Comments (14)



How much are you sending to the starving Haitians? You can afford to send half your income, right? Maybe they would have a better chance at survival if you joined the Peace Corps and relocated. Is the foreign aid we send them helping or have you twisted that into a negative as well?


Even after years of receiving considerable foreign aid, Haiti remains an impoverished, tremendously fragile state. Over a span of ten years, the United States spent over $4 billion in aid to Haiti, yet the average Haitian still has to survive on one dollar a day. Why has assistance been so ineffectual, and what can we learn from Haitis plight about foreign aid in general? - Brookings Institution

Does the term political corruption account for anything? Whata ya bet their leaders drive Cadys?

Sherman Potter

I don't like to hear of any kids starving or without medical car. But good grief, there are kids and families in dire straits probably less than 10 miles from each of our homes.

Excellent post bornhere.

Let's take care of those in our own backyard first for a change.

Sherm - Let's find a way to make American citizens take care of their own rather than you and I being on the hook. I could only afford 2 children........that's all we had. No one paid me monthly to support them. What the hell is the government doing paying people to have more kids.


Good post bornhere , there's also a doctors program for Haitis children , they get free healthcare yet American children can't get it ..............



Great article. The truth that you document is painful to read.

I am in Haiti now.

The four tropical storms that hit Haiti in August and September did incredible damage to this fragile country.

There is a famine in southern Haiti and people are starving everyday. And we are only 90 minutes by air from Miami.

Over 250 children and their mothers show up at 5 AM for medical clinic. They are suffering from malnutrition and water-borne diseases.

And Haitians still make their way to the collapsed school that fell a few weeks killing about 100 students. They stare down and wonder. A sign hangs above the street in front of the crumbled fragments of cement that says: 'In memory of the teachers and students who fell to the politics of the bourgeois and businessman.'

John A. Carroll, M.D.


Hey Jon - Spend some time in any ER, say around 8:00 P.M. and you will see how the poor, and helpless are turned away......not! If you have health insurance, your fees will be high enough to cover some of these folks who pay nothing.

Sherman Potter

A tragic story indeed, Dr. Carroll. But what about the kids in the good ol USA? Why are they not a priority? We still have families reeling from Hurricane Katrina, do they not deserve food,shelter and healthcare?

The painful part of the article is that Peorians are encouraged to put on the blinders as they drive to the airport for their Haitian flight and ignore those in need RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.

I think it comes down to what will get more media attention, helping a families in the tri-county area, or an international journey?

Think of the $4 BILLION in aid that was sent, and did nothing. If you put half of that here you would already see results. Plus according to Tonya, we blew the Haitian rice farmers out of the water, and have actually made them more hungry. Why in the world would they want us back?

These countries are always thrown in our face as if it's America's problem. I get very tired of that.

Let Americans help Americans FIRST. Call the UN and spread out the tasks accordingly amongst the other countries. I'm tired of Uncle Sam being the food stamp distributor to the world while our own are in need.

Sherman Potter


I'm with ya. No one paid me to support my kids, I GOT A SECOND JOB. And sometimes another one after that.


I'm all for helping haiti, just as soon as they apply for statehood.

Does it have to be 8;00 Pm ?


If you want to see the bulk of the crowd, it always seems to begin around that time. Feel free to check it out anytime.

Some comments on the comments:

1. Yes, the families displaced by Hurricane Katrina deserve food, shelter, and healthcare.

2. The infant mortality rate in Peoria is 7/1000. The infant mortality rate in Haiti is 80/1000.

3. 25% of Haitian children are malnourished. Childhood obesity is a major health concern in Peoria.

4. In the United States we spend $5,267 per person each year for health care. Haiti spends $11 per person each year for health care.

5. The median life expectancy in Peoria is about 80 years. The median life expectancy in Haiti is about 50 years.

John A. Carroll, M.D.


Yes, children in the US have problems accessing health care. And I agree that that is a crime.

But in the US, most of those children live in a house with a roof, a floor and windows. Many children in Haiti have NONE of those things. Let alone a television set, or a car, or aspirin to help with minor pains, or any kind of nutrition (ie garlic or chicken soup) to help fend off minor illnesses. They have, literally, NOTHING.

You cannot spare $5 to help children who eat mud cakes to fill up their bellies when there is no food? Children whose parents cannot get jobs because there are NO jobs. They don't have factories or stores or schools or offices to choose not to work in. There are NONE of those things where they are. They are subsistence farmers, because that's what everyone in their village is. They grow what they eat and do what they can to keep a house around them. That is their life.

But US and Global market influences have gone to Haiti, with rice and grains grown by subsidized farmers, far cheaper than the rice and grain that was grown by Haitian farmers. And the corrupt government bought the cheap grain and put Haitian farmers out of business. The poor of Haiti, who comprise the vast majority of the Haitian population, have, literally, nothing! No where to go, no car to get there, and four serious hurricanes have made that pretty much less than nothing!

Please, this Thanksgiving, take a little time, and maybe send $5 or 10 bucks to Konpay, and appreciate how every single person in the United States has it 10 times better than most Haitian people. And stop whining.


debbie welter said...

Dr. Carroll--I am quite sure the people responding to your post and Tanya's article have never held a baby that starved to death. And I'm pretty sure they have a roof over their head, running water, electricity and other things we Americans think are essentials and that most of the people of Haiti live without.

I will admit that prior to our first trip to Haiti I felt some of the same ways. Why are people starving in America? It didn't take me long to realize that there are NO starving people here. They might be hungry but they are not starving. I agree that there are children & people in America who have inadequate health care and shame on us for allowing this to happen. But the people we work with in Haiti have litle to no health care.

Spending time in SanFil-the Home for the Dying-and realizing that these women are my age and their lives are ending because of lack of medical help is very disturbing. Looking into their eyes and seeing that they know they are dying but they are so grateful for a simple back rub or nail polish is humbling.

It makes me realize how much I take my life here in America for granted and how much I need to reach out to people like those at Sanfil or St. Joseph as well as those here in America who need my help.

I love the saying by Mother Teresa of "Alone, we can do nothing. Together, we can do something beautiful for God." I think of that often when we're in Haiti. The problem is so huge and my contribution is so small but if I've helped carry someone elses burden for even a few steps-it was worth it.

If you see the Sisters at 31 Delmas, please say hello from all of us here and that we are counting the days until we return.

God bless you and your passion for people who truly are the "poorest of the poor."

debbie welter

Malia'sMama said...

The people who wrote those comments hurt my heart. Just this week a mother of one of my students freaked b/c we are doing Christmas Child Boxes rather than "helping our own".... ugh! We do both, lady, and those in Haiti and other 3rd/4th wrold countries don't have social assistance...