The day was sticky hot when I arrived in Port-au-Prince at midday Monday, certainly a precursor of a fierce summer to come. I’m here to deliver laptop computers to three newspapers whose operations have been sharply curtailed or stopped completely by January’s earthquake.
This first delivery of equipment is a gesture of the intent of media groups in the United States and Caribbean to extend a hand of friendship and support to their brethren in Haiti. It is one step in a long-term commitment to help Haitian newspapers and journalists recover from the disaster.
When told recently that a laptop was coming, Berthony Dupont, publisher of Haiti Liberte, said: “This is great news. We very definitely need a computer in Port-au-Prince. We have only one working, and not well at that. The other one was destroyed.”
Haiti Liberte also publishes papers in Miami and New York, and those operations are suffering the ravages of declining circulation and the recession. Haiti Liberte lost one employee in the Port-au-Prince office.
The other two newspapers, Le Nouvelliste and Le Matin were also crippled. Their situations are even more threatening because they lost much of their advertising business as well. Both struggle to publish online editions. Delivering the computers gives us a chance to reconnect and measure progress.
We’re also building the foundation for an initiative to help Haitian journalists improve their skills and also hope to establish an investigative journalism center here.
I spent this first day getting acquainted with Haiti’s post-quake reality. The emergency is over, and a sense of normalcy — albeit a new normal — is evident. There is an energy on the street, with throngs of people going about their daily tasks amid the crumpled buildings and tent cities. Haiti has lost much, but these clearly are people determined to push on despite never-ending setbacks.