Author speaks of the widening inequality in Haiti


     On April 19, Haitian author Évelyne Trouillot came to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point to discuss the history of her nation and its current inequality.

    Trouillot was born in Haiti, but went to school in the United States. In the 1980s she returned to Haiti and hasn’t left. 

     Trouillot has written short stories, poetry, novels, and two children books. Her first novel, Rosalie I’Infâme, won a literary prize.

     Haiti has a strong creative community. When asked why that is, Trouillot said, “Maybe it’s the difficulties of living.”

     Her presentation entitled, “Haiti: Beyond the Headlines” seeks to look past what we see at first glance, “Sometimes we are so distracted by headlines that we forget to go beyond the headlines to look at what’s really happening,” Trouillot said.

     In Haiti, there is a widening gap between the rich and the poor, which is affecting the education system. There is great importance on education and the children know that it is a privilege. Trouillot, who is also a teacher, experiences this first-hand. “This is the beauty of Haiti for me…the kids,” Trouillot said.

     There is inequality in the school system of Haiti; not all the children are getting the same opportunities. The schools segregate the lower class from the upper class and funding for the schools goes to those

which cater to the upper class. The wealthy children can get into private schools and get a better education, because they can afford it. 

     The earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12, 2010, changed everything. 450,000 children were displaced and 80 percent of the schools were destroyed. For 48 hours after the earthquake, Haiti was all alone, because other countries had no way of getting there.

     Trouillot talked about those 48 hours where many Haitians heroes emerged to save their fellow countrymen. “It was a very simple reflex, the kind that makes us believe in humanity,” Trouillot said.

     Trouillot also addressed the large international reaction to the earthquake and the harm that it brought to Haiti. Part of the aid was people called Clusters, or experts, who were created to help the people of Haiti in education, health, and reconstruction. However, these people did not listen to the people of Haiti for their solutions and ended up causing more harm than good.

     “Sometimes good intentions are not good enough. You have to really think about what you’re going to do before you take action,” Trouillot said.

     “Behind mountains there are more mountains,” is a Haitian phrase that expresses the state of Haiti; life goes on. “They [the people of Haiti] laugh not because they are naïve but it’s a laugh that says ‘we will survive,’” said Trouillot.


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