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‘We need to partner with Haiti and rebuild’

Hundreds of readers share their ideas on how the U.S. can help Haiti rebuild from the disastrous earthquake.
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While U.S. officials and world leaders try to find ways to help Haiti rise from disaster, Joachim Vivens offered some suggestions: Rebuild to code, strengthen police forces and mandate education.

"Every Haitian still believes and hopes for a better Haiti," said Vivens, who was born and raised in Haiti.

Vivens, an analyst for the Stamford Board of Education in Connecticut, was among hundreds of readers who sent in their ideas on what the U.S. should do to help the quake-ravaged island.

After rescue efforts, Haiti needs a continuing international presence, many said.

Vivens, who moved to the U.S. in 1994 to study business and economics, said he hoped the Haitian government would accept guidance from world leaders to help rebuild its infrastructure.

"We can help the Haitian community begin to prosper," Vivens said.

Vivens said also the country needed government accountability, amendments to the constitution and judicial system reform if it were to become self-sustaining.

While Vivens, his wife and children live in Stratford, Conn., his parents, sister and other family members remain in Port-au-Prince and cities nearby. So far, everyone in Haiti is OK.

Other readers had their own ideas. Many shared the belief that Americans owed Haiti a helping hand and the world would benefit. A few were not so sure, citing tough economic times back home.

"I am saddened by the devastation," wrote Michelle Bollhorst of Dodgeville, Wisc. "However, we need to look to our neighbor here in the states, who is unemployed and has been unemployed." 

A sampling of other posts:

We have record unemployment in America. Many of the unemployed are ironworkers, carpenters, skilled builders, etc. We set up a program with an offer to go to Haiti, bringing supplies and knowledge. Americans get a job, with a paycheck. Haiti gets to learn how to build the steel/concrete "earthquake proof" buildings that work here in the states. Everybody wins. — Larissa Pizzulli of Clifton, N.J.

Make it an international participation, where the countries are given a percent of Haitian trade equal to the percent of participation in the rebuilding and emergency support supplied. — Jerry McKevitt.

I have worked in Haiti and the people there are extremely resourceful, hard working and caring. Is it possible for a multination panel, all of whom understand the language, to sit down with Haitians and plan out the future construction and its priorities? What is needed is a realistic, planned reconstruction plan with priorities like hospitals, schools, clinics, and business to help restore life for people. — Dennis McMillin, Hermosa, S.D.

We need to partner with Haiti and rebuild, create jobs for Americans and Haitians. Contact large resort businesses to begin building in Haiti so they can have a tourist industry like other countries in the area. — Charles Ernest Puff, Tooele, Utah

Rebuilding in Haiti without a stable, competent government is like building a house on quicksand. ... Long term rebuilding needs to be done with the emphasis on capital investment. There is no reason why Haiti cannot enjoy the same tourism and trade that the Dominican Republic enjoys other than the fact that Haiti has not been able to govern itself competently. Perhaps a U.N.-led transitional government with a slow move towards true democracy is the way to go. Just starting the process should spur investment which will begin the road to prosperity. — Manny Castaneda of Florida

My solution: Each Dominican household should take in a Haitian family, unifying the island under one nation. — Danitra Tanner Mathis of Plano, Texas

In order to rebuild the capital, it will be necessary to move hundreds of thousands of people out to the rural areas in conjunction with the decentralization of health and education delivery. As part of this plan, my recommendation is to relocate and engage people in food-for-work or cash-for-work programs to rebuild the roads and infrastructure, while other organizations concurrently rebuild essential structures in the capital (e.g. hospitals, universities, government buildings). As things improve in the capital, new housing, up to current codes, can be built to house people who are necessary to run these institutions. — Jeff Kerzner of Belmont, Maine

I think that if the United States is to get involved with rebuilding Haiti, the United States should make it a U.S. possession. — David Bienvenu of Scott, La.

The U.S. and its European allies may be going through some tough economic times, but if they work together, they could help Haiti get back on its feet. Haiti could serve as an example of what we as human beings can do when we work together for the greater good. — Sachiel Mondesir of Queens, N.Y.

Haiti is historically French yet we have heard nothing significant about French participation in the recovery. Maneuver France to take the lead. — Richard Youngs of Yuma, Ariz.

The U.S. should help, but only if the Haitian government has a clear vision and takes leadership for that vision. The rebuilding of Haiti should be a U.S.-assisted effort along with the rest of the international community, not a U.S.- led nation building project. — Malik Low, Orlando, Fla.