The Haiti Experiment is Hugh Locke’s fascinating and heartwarming account of his efforts to help the people of this impoverished nation. His principal companion on this journey is hip-hop musician Wyclef Jean. Together they endure triumph, heartbreak, and ultimately trial-by-media for their labors as co-founders of the charitable organization Yéle Haiti. Locke traces the roots of Haiti’s loss of economic power to key events in its history, and offers a revealing and irreverent portrait of the inner workings of global agribusiness and foreign aid. Locke had been accustomed to working with heads of state and royalty, but in Haiti, he negotiates with gangsters in the slums of Port-au-Prince, works with survivors of the tragic 2010 earthquake, and, ultimately, finds inspiration among the country’s farmers for a new approach to humanitarian assistance. Locke concludes with a bold proposal to make Haiti the site of a 10-year experiment aimed at restoring, reforesting and rebuilding the country while pioneering an innovative model for helping the people of the developing world to take charge of their own destiny.
The “experiment” is referred to in the following excerpt from the Introduction to The Haiti Experiment, and is then explained in detail in Chapter 5 of the book:
“In recounting my own work in the fields of education, agriculture, health, and various aspects of emergency assistance—six years with Yéle Haiti and a year and a half with smallholder farmers—I will also share the insights that have led to my current, and admittedly somewhat radical, proposal regarding the changes needed in the field of development assistance. These recommendations come together in the fifth and final chapter, in which I propose Haiti as the subject of a ten-year experiment for exploring a new methodology for delivering development aid that will be of benefit to the entire world—if it succeeds. And if it does not succeed, Haiti is still worthy of having the opportunity to change a destiny that has been handicapped by monumental forces, both internal and external, from the moment its heroic slave revolt launched a new nation in 1804.”
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The Haiti Experiment can be purchased at Brasserie Quartier Latin in Pétionville.