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Four Years Post-Quake: Signs of Progress


At the time of the 2010 earthquake, 1.4 million people were displaced and tent cities sprung up to provide temporary housing.

At the time of the 2010 earthquake, 1.4 million people were displaced and tent cities sprung up to provide temporary housing.



Rubble has been cleared and houses are being re-built, though 170,000 remain without permanent shelter.

Rubble has been cleared and houses are being re-built, though 170,000 remain without permanent shelter.






(Condensed version of an article written by Caitlin Klevorik for the Huffington Post that appeared Jan. 22, 2014 entitled, “4 Years Later:  Haiti’s Progress Not Always Visible To The Naked Eye”)

Sunday was the four year anniversary of the tragic Haiti earthquake that took the lives of hundreds of thousands, left so many more with serious injuries, and quite literally reduced much of the capitol city of Port-au-Prince to rubble. Thirty-five seconds was all it took.

So what has happened since the stories we saw four years ago of mind-boggling selflessness and unprecedented collaborations have faded? The work has continued and progress has been made, but it hasn’t always been easy to find.  It’s hard to take an impactful photograph of slowly rising GDP, but it, and other encouraging indications can and should be noted.

The Haitian government and assisting nations have jointly determined that investing in long-term development is the only way to create lasting systems that will help Haiti on a path to prosperity — and ultimately put foreign assistance organizations out of business. Today, we are seeing results of the investments the U.S. and other nations, the private sector, and NGOs have made. Here are just a few: GDP grew by 4 percent; inflation fell from 8 percent to 4.5 percent; 180 miles of new roads built; 90 percent of displaced population have returned to safer homes; 97 percent  of the more than 20 million cubic yards of rubble (enough to fill the Louisiana Superdome five times) has been cleared; seven new hospitals and 46 new health centers opened; crime is down substantially; school is now free; cholera cases cut in half; and opportunities continue to grow tourism.” (Linda interjecting here:  In fact, public education has always been free, but children need to wear uniforms and bring in supplies in order to attend.  These were requirements that parents often couldn’t afford before the earthquake and many still can’t today.  I don’t see how we can count this as progress, though Martelly’s government is currently working on assistance for poor families to overcome this obstacle.  Also, cholera cases have been cut in half, yes, but it was relief workers that brought cholera to Haiti in the first place.  So while it is true that the problem is being overcome, it is a problem that wasn’t there before. Not trying to put a damp blanket on sparking optimism, just applying a little counterpoint.)

Realistically, Haiti still has a long way to go, just as it did before the earthquake. While more than 1.3 million people have moved out of camps, 170,000 remain. The country needs to continue to work to modernize business laws to attract private sector investment. Calls for calm by the many must be heard over the calls to violence by the few. And perhaps most importantly, Haiti needs the rest of the world to stay invested. We can do that first and foremost by listening to what the Haitians themselves have to say. And then dig further. Look for articles and interviews, such as this one with the Prime Minister and this piece from the World Bank. Then, share what you’ve learned.  Stay engaged, starting right now.

Prime minister interview link: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/11/3865391/lamothe-haiti-rebounding-from.html

World Bank article link: http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2014/01/06/after-the-reconstruction-haitians-look-forward-to-a-brighter-future


Contributed by Linda for Beyond Borders/It’s Cactus

The Red Carpet


RND558 "Growing the Flowers" by Charles Luthene.  One of over two dozen new designs for 2014.

RND558 “Growing the Flowers” by Charles Luthene. One of over two dozen new designs for 2014.

Earlier this week, I was working on an email to let Beyond Borders customers know about our newest catalogue designs for 2014.  I was trying to think of some clever way of presenting them and came up with a Hollywood red carpet analogy.  “Rolling out the red carpet for our newest designs” was the pitch I decided to make, and then I began to wonder how Hollywood ever came up with the idea of using a red carpet as a symbol of high ceremony and exalted welcome.

Back in the days of Ancient Greece, red was a color reserved for gods and kings, and there is a mention of Agamemnon walking along a red carpet into his palace after his victory over Troy.  The use of a red carpet pops up again, centuries later in the United States, when one was rolled out to welcome and honor President James Monroe in when he landed by boat for a visit to Prospect Hill in South Carolina in 1821.

However, the “red carpet treatment” was not truly cemented into tradition and vernacular until the 20th Century Limited train line began using a custom red carpet to welcome and direct its clientele on board.  Operating from 1938 until 1968, the 20th Century Limited ran a high-speed luxury service between New York City and Chicago, catering specifically to the rich and beautiful.  Regular passengers were the likes of the wealthy tycoons and glamorous entertainers such as Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Doris Day, and Bette Davis. (For a fun article and great pictures of this gracious and elegant mode of travel click here http://www.newyorksocialdiary.com/node/225401/print ) According to Ann Henderson of Smithsonian Magazine, Hollywood rolled out the red carpet for the first time in 1961 for its Oscar ceremonies, and in 1966, when the Oscars were first televised in color, the carpet became instantly iconic. Today, the red carpet has become de rigeur for grand entrances of all kinds.  Therefore, roll out the red carpet.  Our new designs are HERE!


Contributed by Linda for Beyond Borders/It’s Cactus

St. Francis

"St. Francis in the Garden" SM 561 by Edward Dieudonne

“St. Francis in the Garden” SM 561 by Edward Dieudonne


"St. Francis in Reflection" SM562 by Edward Dieudonne

“St. Francis in Reflection” SM562 by Edward Dieudonne


Twice a year – once in January and once in July – Beyond Borders selects about 2 dozen new designs from our artists to feature in the catalogue and online.  Last week was the “unveiling” and, as always, I was very excited to see which designs made the final cut.  Among many lovely pieces, my fast favorites became Edward Dieudonne’s images of St. Francis.  Edward captured the saint’s tender love for the creatures of the earth, depicting him standing reflectively among the flowers and birds. He rendered the sculptures with a beauty and simplicity that are completely appropriate and fitting for his subject.  Perfect!

Though I was aware that St. Francis is the patron saint of animals and the environment, I never knew why. Fortunately, it takes very little research to discover the answer.  His designation is well-deserved and the story is a good one.  Several stories, actually, and from a noteworthy set of contemporary medieval sources. The life of Saint Francis of Assisi is, in fact, one of the more closely chronicled lives of the pre-Renaissance, with sources including a number of early papal bulls and three biographies; one written by Thomas of Celano, a follower of Francis’ (1229-1247), a joint narrative of his life compiled by Leo, Rufinus, and Angelus, who were intimate companions of the saint (1246), and the celebrated Legend of St. Bonaventure (1263).

These accounts were summarized neatly for me in several online sites, including www.newadvent.org where I read that, “The very animals found in Francis a tender friend and protector; thus we find him pleading with the people of Gubbio to feed the fierce wolf that had ravished their flocks, because through hunger “Brother Wolf” had done this wrong. And the early legends have left us many an idyllic picture of how beasts and birds alike susceptible to the charm of Francis’s gentle ways, entering into loving companionship with him.”

Perhaps the most famous story associated with St. Francis is the one told of his sermon to the birds.  Apparently, Francis had hit a something of a professional impasse.  He was uncertain whether to continue his ministry, or to withdraw from teaching and spend the rest of his life in solitary prayer and meditation.  His colleagues, Sister Clare and Brother Sylvester encouraged him to continue his outreach. Following their advice, he set out with renewed vigor and immediately encountered a large flock of birds. Francis stopped in his tracks and preached to the birds, instructing them to be thankful to God for their beautiful plumage, for their independence, and for God’s loving care.  The birds were rapt in their attention as he spoke, flying off only when he bid them leave.

Modern interpretations of these stories lead us to the conclusion that St. Francis revealed that the whole family of creation – flora, fauna, and the earth itself – is deserving of respect and care. It’s an idea, and an image that bears repeating.

Contributed by Linda for Beyond Borders/It’s Cactus

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