|View from the Pacot Hills of Port-au-Prince at 7am, Wed, Aug 3, 2011|
|View from the Pacot Hills at 7pm the same day. Tropical Storm Emily approaches.|
Currently located in Port-au-Prince on a short work trip, I and my ActionAid colleagues are preparing for Tropical Storm Emily, which is due to hit Haiti within the next few hours. For us, this storm means buying more food and water, taking extra precautions and tightly closing up the guesthouse where we’re staying. For the 650,000 Haitians still living under tents, though, it means praying for the storm to take another path. Even if the storm goes further west, though, it most assuredly means that heavy rains will fall, and the people will continue to suffer flooding and increased cholera.
As the storm approaches, I cannot stop thinking about Marie Charles. Marie Charles Juste Luce Saintilmé, a member of the grassroots network, COZPAM, (Association of Community Organizations in the Metropolitan Area of Port-au-Prince), is a member of an IDP Camp in Mariani, just outside of Haiti. An experienced, registered nurse who lost her home during the earthquake, Marie Charles is fighting to protect women’s health, security and power to make a difference in Haiti IDP camps.
|Marie Charles Juste Luce Santilme|
Some of those urgently needed policies include a solid national housing plan that outlines exactly how to secure affordable, safe, long-term housing for people currently living under tents. Such a plan, however, can only work if it is created and implemented in direct partnership with Haitian grassroots, civil society and women's groups. These are the networks that work closest with poor and marginalized people and can help amplify their voices. As Tropical Storm Emily decides its next move, we must do the same. Now is the time to speak up to our respective governments and ask them to listen to and work directly with the Haitian people on a housing plan that prioritizes the needs of the most vulnerable.