(New Orleans) Mayor Mitch Landrieu traveled to Haiti for two days this week to announce a partnership with the Caribbean nation, struggling to rebuild nearly three years after a devastating earthquake killed more than 300,000 and left 1.6 million more homeless.
The Arab state of Qatar, which donated $100 million to the Gulf Coast states in the aftermath of Katrina to rebuild hospitals, schools and housing, has announced that it will pledge $20 million to the people of Haiti through the Qatar Haiti Fund.
"If anybody should understand the situation in Haiti, we should," Landrieu wrote in a statement. "It's a long journey back. We are still in the midst of a massive rebuilding effort, but we are intent on building back better than before. We want to help build capacity in Haiti, and we want to help them re-imagine what Haiti can be. We’ll be with them for the long haul."
The United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti, Bill Clinton, was there to help make the announcement. "I hope it will set an example for other donors who have committed funds but have not been specific yet about when they will deliver," Clinton said about Qatar. "The Qataris have kept their word and done it in an intelligent, forward-looking way."
According to NOLA Defender:
The City will offer help to the Haitian government in the areas of "international cooperation, urban redevelopment, healthcare, tourism, and agriculture." Newly-hired Haitians will be "trained and guided by their New Orleans counterparts," said Qatar ambassador Mohamed Bin Abdullah Al-Rumaihi.
The City will also help create mobile health clinces in the Central Plateau and in the Lower Artibonite areas of the city. Addlitionaly, Xavier University of Louisiana and Universite Notre Dame d'Haiti (UNDH) will set up an exchange program that will allow Xavier to help UNDH to develop formal programs to train pharmacists.
"We want to help build capacity in Haiti, and we want to help them reimagine what Haiti can be. " the Mayor said.
Landrieu described the city's century-long ties to the island nation, beginning during the slave revolts in the 1800s, when Haitian refugees fled to New Orleans.
"Since then, Haiti has influenced what you see, hear and taste in our city to this day. We are now bound by tragedy and loss as well," Landrieu wrote. "As much as the Haitian people have given New Orleans over the past two centuries, New Orleanians now need to return the favor by sharing our knowledge from our own cataclysmic loss."
Bound by loss. Returning the favor. Sharing the knowledge.