I spent a great deal of time for two years after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti working with humanitarian organizations such as Architecture for Humanity and Habitat for Humanity, as well as local businessmen and officials, to develop plans to rebuild. At the time, the task seemed daunting. Over 300,000 people were killed in the quake, and more than a million were forced to live in tents. Infrastructure of all kinds – from roads to sewers, and from ports to the water systems – were destroyed, as were schools, government buildings, hospitals, manufacturing facilities, sanitation facilities, hotels and the means to supply and distribute food, medicine and other emergency supplies. This poorest nation in the western hemisphere was dealt a devastating blow.
And while many people and organizations, including humanitarian groups, have long forgotten about Haiti and moved on to their next “cause”, I am pleased that some of the hardworking businessmen I met have persevered. It is a testament to their fortitude, their intelligence, their spirit and their sense of community that they have overcome these tremendous obstacles to get things moving again. There is still much to do, and the country still suffers from many social problems. But, there is also hope. Below is a recent email I received from one of the businessmen, Patrick Blanchet, whom I consider a friend. WIth his permission, I am sharing this with you, as well as his photos of the progress he and his firm, Nabatec, have been making.
It’s really nice to hear from you. I went through your pictures and I see many pictures of Haiti and even a picture of Sandya you took while we were on a visit together of the Nabatec land. To keep you posted, this particular land on the ocean we wanted to develop is being sold to a group to set up a plant and they will need a port facility. On the other pieces of land we had, the Spanish Government built a waste treatment facility and across the street, the International Olympic Committee is building a sports complex. The rest of the land has been squattered so I do not see how we will be able to do something. It will just become the biggest slum of the Caribbean. I’m still involved in many projects. Our textile plant is still going strong. We have about 3,500 employees. We also build a free zone that we rented to a group of Koreans. They will employ about 2,500 people in that park.
This year a group of friends and I, purchased a small bank in Haiti. I’m now a board member of the bank. So far it’s really interesting. We hope to have a real solid bank in a few years. I wanted to let you know, that we really enjoyed working with you. I was able to learn a lot from you and even though I was not able to go to NYU, I feel that I got some credits with you. If ever you come back to Haiti, please call me and hopefully when I’m in NY, we can meet up for a drink.
Talk to you soon.
These are pictures of the Palm Free Zone in the Carrefour Area of
Port-au-Prince. This was built by my textile group just south of
Port-au-Prince. This is on 4.5 hectares of land and we will have close to
200,000 square feet of building. We rented this to a group of Koreans and
they will create between 2,500 and 3,000 jobs.
I will send you more pictures with the equipment inside the plant.
© September 12, 2013 James Stuckey