This is no ordinary triumph. This is historic.
This is the moment that the Irish poet Seamus Heaney foretold as the rising up of that “once in a lifetime…longed-for tidal wave of justice,” when “hope and history rhyme.”
When the leader of 193 nations apologized on December 1 from his grand carpeted chamber at the UN to millions of Haitians, many with dirt floors, the poles of power began to shift. The earth shuddered a “great sea-change on the far side of revenge.”
It didn’t come about without hope. It also didn’t materialize without your unfailing support.
And it would not have been possible without a scrappy band of Haitian and international lawyers, interns, and their allies at the Bureau de Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Port au Prince and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) working from a church basement in Boston. (To read in the Miami Herald about their role in the UN’s apology, see here.)
It didn’t happen without IJDH’s careful weaving together of a vast network of victims, human rights organizations and outraged US and UN officials demanding the United Nations fess up and fund up. But the pressure cannot stop now.
We all must be relentless to ensure the UN raises and deploys adequate funds to remedy the epidemic of cholera. After all, their peacekeeping troops introduced the deadly disease to Haiti’s water supply due to gross negligence — and then let it fester due to calculated avoidance.
Honestly, I must admit that I wasn’t sure I would ever see this moment. In 2014 when Al Kaneb and I, both IJDH Advisory Board members, met with the UN official appointed to handle this mess, he told us there was no effective leverage the UN could use over its member states to force them to remedy the situation. There was no bucket of money from which to draw for installing clean water and sanitation systems throughout Haiti, or for compensating the families of dead cholera victims. “No way,” he said.
IJDH – and YOU – have pushed them to find a way. But the remedies won’t be funded without your ongoing support.
When I enter the dusty, windowless basement offices of IJDH, where staff and volunteers toil from donated study carrels, or when I visit the crammed and sweltering office rooms of the BAI in Port au Prince, I am incredulous that these indefatigable advocates have moved leaders in the marbled halls of power. They have made me a believer in the way that Seamus Heaney proclaimed:
“Believe that further shore is reachable from here. Believe in miracle and cures and healing wells.”
With your most generous contribution, we will secure a miracle, disseminate a cure, and build clean water systems for all the people of Haiti. Together, we will make history.
And that means, in Heaney’s words, “That someone is hearing the outcry and the birth-cry of new life at its term.” This is the moment for new life in Haiti.
With gratitude and in awe,
Karen Keating Ansara
IJDH Advisory Board Member
P.S. Read Seamus Heaney’s poem in full here.
P.P.S. Help IJDH make history here.