February 19, 2009
Dirt poor Haitians eat cookies made of mud

Last year, Worldfocus reported on the devastating poverty in Haiti.  This story was originally broadcast last February.

The small island nation of Haiti relies heavily on food imports, but with prices soaring, some Haitians are resorting to eating mud.

The cookies — made of dirt, butter and salt — hold little nutritional value, but manage to keep Haiti’s poor alive.

Worldfocus special correspondent Benno Schmidt and producer Ara Ayer report from Haiti, showing how far some people are going to fill their stomachs.

For more Worldfocus coverage of Haiti, visit our extended coverage page: Haiti’s Poor.

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84 comments

#84

at my dauters school they made haiti pins to help and they are only selling for 2 dallers each

#83

Yum Yum! COOKIES, COOKIES!!!!! Me go to
Haiti.

#82

these cookies look like clay pots. why cant women with skills enough to build cookies of clay. make money by making art or functional wear from thesame dirt. ???? they are not disabled ..

#81

I live in less than most africans a day my rent consumes all of my money. im forced to live that way because an unrequited other ironicly of haitan heritage decided to use mylife as a way means and to destroy my mental and physical health so he could get out of work it took me to get to places in life. i feel the intense drive to eat dirt to now. im not haitian..

#80

eating dirty is symptom related to worms. Haitains and other poorer third world countries are prone to parasites which cause peopel to crave to eat dirt. feeling the need to get minerals from dirt is a sign of parasite infestation. which would also mean human infestation where persons looking to get rich off lives of others, by passing struggle also become parasites..ps i livwe on fifty cents a day in nyc

#79

eating dirty is symptom related to worms. Haitains and other poorer third world countries are prone to parasites which cause peopel to crave to eat dirt. feeling the need to get minerals from dirt is a sign of parasite infestation. which would also mean human infestation where persons looking to get rich off lives of others, by passing struggle also become parasites..

#78

Dear Frank (2)

Correcting an omission

When I did the transfer of the article to send it, it occurred an omission that I want to correct. So, please read a paragraph of my post, this way: “As you see, our arrogant show of power also as an occupying force of 15000 marines well trained and armed for the war against a small, poor, pilled and devastated country, has implied (as well) in a tremendous bottleneck for the distribution of food, water and so on.”

Thanks,

João

#77

Dear Frank,

Many thanks for your post concerning with the comments that I made (no. 73). However, it is not possible to accept the idea that the deployment to Haiti of one aircraft carrier endowed with nuclear and atomic power (as a unit of a fleet that involve some other battle ships), can justify the relative small number of daily rations that that carrier provides. As a matter of fact, the 3000 meals that you mention is too below from the number of 2 million, amount estimated by the experts of the WFP (United Nations Food Program). On the other hand, the making of distilled water is not a special advantage of carriers, it is quite common in ships nowadays, most of them use the liquid even as a coolant. Moreover, according with the experts in disaster relief operations, big ships like carriers mustn’t be used in operations like the one needed in Haiti. Just in the case hospital ships must be small and fast, able to operate in areas with small, damaged, or even without ports. They should be able to anchor in shallow waters near the land. To make things even worse the Carl Vinson hospital is a small one if we consider the huge effects of the quake that left around 300000 injured people. It was quickly overwhelmed by the relative small number of injured that poured into it, brought by choppers. Yet several governments of other countries claimed that their planes couldn’t land with doctors, and precious, very opportune, loads of campaign hospitals, medicine, water etc. As you see, our arrogant show of power also as an occupying force of 15000 marines well trained and armed for the war, has implied in a tremendous bottleneck for the distribution of food, water and so on. For it has hindered the humanitarian aid even 3 weeks after the quake, as it appeared on the TV news from yesterday (Feb, 3), besides once again having boosted the anti-American sentiment all over the world in spite of the generosity of our people.

#76

#73 JOAO a USA aircraft carrier has a hospital can supply power and serve 3000 meals per day plus it has helicopters to transport injured people to that hospital. So it is necessary to have on there..

#75

Butter? Feed a cow acres of protein filled crops so you can get butter to make mud cookie, grrrreatttt investment. The more the world eats meat and dairy, the less food will be available for humans.

#74

look all of you im mad too but dodn’t get mad at haiti for making mud cookies its wrong ok we know but who is striving you or them they are just trying to surivie so maybe you should step in thier shoes if they had any we are lucky so shut up i say powerful words and im only 12

#73

Dear AAaaaa,

I fully agree with you that it is occurring in Haiti a terrible situation that demands urgent and serious measures. But once and for all we must go to the ‘Why’ of the problem. We need to understand that it results not only from the strong earthquake, but also from the extreme misery of the Haitian people, plundered by foreign corporations and corrupt Haitian oligarchies for ages. Unfortunately most of our governments have supported both of them, destroying the fragile democracy that was practiced, as did our Presidents Bush and Clinton just like other predecessors, Woodrow Wilson, for example. I don’t believe that any country has the right of interfering in the political affaires of another one, dismantling forcefully, or not, a government elected by the people. Also it seems that has already arrived the time for the understanding that we, Americans, mustn’t take advantage of the tragic situation of Haiti, to invade and occupy the country under the deceitful pretext of giving humanitarian aid. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t seem that our marines were deployed to help the Haitian people, since they act as any force of occupation. They are armed with the most modern weaponry and are supported even by a carrier endowed with supersonic war aircraft and nuclear power. Our government must accept the universal complaints against such a kind of behavior and stop it. It’s clear that the solution of the Haitian emergence problems and the ones related to the infrastructure of Haiti, belong only to the people of that country, supported by the United Nations according to the goals for what this organization was created. Popular councils and experts of UN may watch over the transparence of the application of all resources.

#72

@ Mr. Confused: You’re reading comprehension isn’t very good. Are you still in grade school? The reporters are calling them “cookies” but they are nothing like the sweet cookies you’re thinking about. They said that most of those cookies didn’t even have sugar in them. Just dirt, butter, and salt. And they don’t eat them as a reward. They eat them because they’re starving and will eat anything to lessen the pain.

#71

If so much money is being donated to Haiti and people are still literally eating dirt, I think it’s justified that their government be forcefully dismantled and replaced with something the UN would agree with. At least so that they would stop taking all the money.

#70

What the hell do they need cookies for? There’s more important things to do. Like put your country back together? Someone teach them the importance of priorities. In my house it was treats AFTER I’ve cleaned my room.

#69

That mud cookies are widely consumed is testimony to the rampant indifference of Humankind. Los Angeles is an ocean away from Miami yet both both cities are fat and groggy in the consumption of the American Dream. Miami and Haiti; geographically neighbors, yet a world apart. Mud Cookies and the sale of raw ingredient - DIRT is an abomination. Shame on the World for allowing this.

#68

@Alisha: Highlighting just the plight of Haitian children here in this video is not meant to imply that there are no starving children elsewhere. If I were to apply your juvenile way of assessing information I too could claim that your comment is narrow and biased simply because you did not mention, for example, the children of North Korea. Clearly you need to think before posting.

#67

Something is seriously wrong if the international community is supposedly donating billions to Haiti and yet children are eating mud cookies. There is serious mismanagement of funds going on here and some heads need to be interrogated and possibly be rolling.

#66

What is so special about poverty in Haiti?There are children in India and Afhganistan facing the same poverty ,hat any one doing for them?Why not highlight their plights as well?Be just and fair across the board.

#65

I would like to commend Ms. Barbara Goodwin for her thoughtful approaches concerning what must be done to give the long-suffering and courageous Haitian people opportunity to recover by themselves after the devastating earthquake. To rebuild their nation, taking benefit from the immense good will of most of the peoples and countries all over the world. Her suggestions about what kind of priorities should be considered are very wise and it is really remarkable her mention to avoid the corruption, subject which is placed at the first place on her list. Actually, it is extremely important this time, vital I would say, to be vigilant against the deviation of funds reserved to Haiti. The usual corruption from many people that deal with those funds is usually pretty larger than the good wills of persons and some organizations that really wish the well-being of the Haitian people. By the way, the misuse of the big donations that Haiti has usually received, was object of some considerations that I made in this site, some months ago (see posts 19, 29, 36, 45 and 50). Then I mentioned the declarations of a Brazilian General, a former Commander of the UN Peace Troops in Haiti, when he highlighted not only corruption with the use of international resources, but also the need for mechanisms able to protect those funds against theft. He, also, advocated the creation of a system for achieving transparency to the distribution and honest use of funds. As impunity is a common thing facing the power of the oligarchs and their protectors, he even considered the need that the corruption with humanitarian aid must be seen as international crime with suspects being judged for tribunals located in other countries. As a matter of fact it is important that the public opinion be very active in preventing the action of the Haitian corrupt oligarchies and their dishonest partners,eager for taking over the donations that come from all over the world, as it systematically has occurred. It’s decisive that it mustn’t happen now! Unfortunately, we can find some nonsensical posts in this site about the misfortune of the Haitian people. I just recommend to their authors the reading of the History of Haiti, a country plagued by the imperialism and colonialism for ages, whose corporations supported by local oligarchs, have systematically impoverished the people, the country, as well as depleting its soil, waters, and other natural resources. Also, it is ingenuous to suppose that it would be useful the ‘partnership’ between the former Presidents Bush and Clinton to coordinate the aid relief to that already plagued country…Both of them have had an inappropriate and pertinaceous interference in the internal affairs of the country, destroying the Haitian democracy, and have distinguished and protected the big corporations and Haitian oligarchy, that helped to create the status of misery of the Haitian people.

#64

It’s tragic that the world economic community allowed Haiti to get into this horrible state. It’s been years since Duvalier was ousted, taking millions of dollars with him. There have been decades in which Haiti’s economy could have gotten back on track. The shame is that the World Bank chose to keep the country in debt - giving with one hand; taking with another - while the people must resort to eating mud pies to survive. The industrial community could have invested in Haiti, bringing factories as they did with NAFTA. I’m sure these people want to work; want a living wage, want political stability; they want to live with dignity. Let’s hope the country is rebuilt to a decent standard and that if money is thrown at the “problem” it is done so with strings attached - with the proviso that the money will come as long as the the people are not allowed to suffer from corruption, disease, lack of infrastructure, extreme poverty and hopelessness. We are one human family and there is no excuse for people to live like this in a very rich hemisphere.

#63

[...] showing Haiti’s dirt cookies being made for human consumption. This is so sad and shocking to see. Dirt poor Haitians eat cookies made of mud | Worldfocus Last year, Worldfocus reported on the devastating poverty in Haiti. This story was originally [...]

#61

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by AmaturRahman: http://worldfocus.org/blog/2009/02/19/dirt-poor-haitians-eat-cookies-made-of-mud/4120/...

#60

IMHO we all need a lesson in History to understand why Haiti and its people are, and has been in this terrible position..

#59

One solution would be mass birth control. But the Church of Rome would have a cow you might say. The AIDS virus that worked in the beginning no longer puts fear into anyone. Plague seems not to work, the UN stops it dead in its track. Maybe you should think about not shipping food into that country. Let death run its course. Those who want to save those people let them foot the bill. If the Catholic Church says that it is against God commands to use birth control, then let the Church feed the country. They have billions in their basement in Rome. That wheat surplus that used to be found in North America is getting very low as America becomes a dust bowl.
Remember that God used to have ways to control the human population, Small Pox comes to the fore front of people killers.

#58

[...] Originally Posted by Wessexman And when you find a system that makes shelters a luxury please inform me, I will attack it with you. Otherwise you don’t really have an argument nor did you really respond to my points. some systems make food a luxury. Dirt poor Haitians eat cookies made of mud | Worldfocus [...]

#57

response to #56. Is there a common htread that runs through the countries of Haiti, Rwanda, and Malawi? Anything that they all have in common? And where have the billions gone from past “donations”? Can anyone account for a single penny or show one once of “improvement”? We just need to throw more good money after bad? Haiti doesn’t look any worse than Detroit or parts of Baltimore and Silly Philly. I’ve just had a mental awakening!!! Let’s sent lots of our staple foods, like moon pies, twinkies, sugared cereals, boil in a bag crap, little debbies, and syrupy sodas to Haiti and turn them into diabetic, waddling lardasses like most of the 7th graders in Los Angeles. In return, they can export their healthier mud pies to the US and we can serve them in the skrool lunch programs to combat obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. When they get fat and we get skinny, we’ll simply reverse the order. That way we can all be healthy, all of the time. “We are the world, we are the children, blah, blah, blah.” I’m sure this post will be edited or discarded. It smacks of too much truth.

#56

[...] old, nearly 20 years less than in your own country — a country where human beings sometimes eat dirt pies for [...]

#55

2nd post- Dear John Robert,
It seems that it’s not possible to mention email addresses at this WorldFocus blog. I sent mine for you,in my prior message, but it couldn’t get through. This way, at least for starting, we can keep in touch exchanging our messages as we are doing right now.
Cordially,
Lima

#54

Hi, John Robert! I just read your poster and I would be very pleased if I could give you the help that you requested. However, as I am experiencing a very serious health problem, I am only able to offer you some outlines for the project that you have in mind.

I won’t charge you for anything that I could do since I consider that your project could be helpful for improving the conditions of life of some people over there.

Please feel free, if you want, to write to my email address which it is .

Regards,

Lima

#53

I would like to contact the agronomist, Mr. Lima. I have been thinking about the possibility of starting a farm in Haiti.

#52

I just watched that video in its entirety. Those women are very smart. They know alot about nutrition. And none of the kids are waddling, diabetic lardasses like here in the US. I just wish that they would switch from saturated shortening to pure, organic grass fed butter. And make sure that they use raw organic, or first press turbinado sugar. Those are some happy, smiling, carefree, healthy kids.

#51

Eating “dirt” is not a sick joke. I’m a geophagist myself. I regularly consume bentonite and montmorillonite clay. It’s actually quite a healthy habit to get into. Many people in the southern US eat dirt to get their minerals. From what I can see in this picture, the dirt looks fine, clay in structure, and high density. Many people, both black and white in Georgia and Mississippi frequent the raod cuts where the good Kaolinite is exposed. Its great for what ails you. Cleans the entire digestive tract, especially the large bowell. Gets rid of the omega 6 heart glue and the Krispy Kreams. I’d way rather eat good dirt than processed garbage like that. I also water fast for 7 to 10 days at a time. Nobody in crying tears for me, at least I hope not. I had a pet rabbit once, and when I’d fertilize the garden, it would get in there and eat pounds of dirt (soil) to get those wonderful minerals. Anyway, the woman making tose cookies looks like she could use a break from the carbs. To our good health!! Let me also mention that when I worked for the government, I ate way more than dirt. Need I say more?

#50

I’d like to express my deepest concerns over Ms. Molly’s comments. To wait “for people do something”, “to stop complaining” about the terrible nutritional conditions of the Haitian children, could mean to be unconcerned with what might happen to them, could imply an unfair attitude of indifference for the abject poverty which the Haitian people live with. Moreover, such a kind of argument could reflect a mental attitude that, if spread, generalized, makes Haiti even freer to many oligarchs and politicians plunder the large donations funnelled into the country through official entities or even private organizations. They are estimated in one billion dollars per year.

#49

Hi Mark,

I’ve spoken with the producer of this piece, Ara Ayer, and he suggests a group called Partners in Health, which deals with nutrition, agriculture, water etc. in Haiti among other developing world countries. You can find their website (with contacts + a donation page) at http://www.pih.org/home.html

Thank you so much for your interest in the show, and I hope that helps.

Regards,

Katie
Worldfocus.org

#48

Dear World Focus,

I showed this story to my 8th grade social studies class with the theme, “You don’t know how lucky you are”. As a result three students took it upon themselves to put together a booth during a recent open house at our school. They were thrilled when they raised $70 in one hour. I assured them, and some contributors that I would send a $70 check to the appropriate agency. Could you possibly inform me as to a good charity in Haiti to send the money? We want to make sure that the money helps some of those children. I deeply appreciate any information you can send.

Sincerely,

Mark Allendorf
Jordan Middle School
Palo Alto, CA.

#47

i know that people think its wrong that people have to eat dirt and i think its wrong but no one is doing anything about it and if it keeps them alive and its all they can afford then untill people actually do something about it i think people need to stop complaining

#46

woody i feel sorry for you that haiti is so poor and ya eat dirt cookies i not mean to say that.

#45

MaryAnne Phillips’s suggestion for occupying Haiti is unbalanced, offensive to many countries, and doesn’t address the core problem. ‘Occupying a country’ never represented a solution to social and economic problems that it could have and means to deprive its citizens of freedom with the irreplaceable rights that all people deserve. Before expressing such unreasonable opinion, Ms. Maryanne should have read something of the History of Haiti, as well as about the predatory action exerted on the nation by its own corrupted oligarchies supported by countries that weren’t and are not exactly the Arab and Latin American ones. Even a temporary occupation, as the one of UN Peace Troops, cannot solve the Haitian problem if the deleterious action of those oligarchies is not suppressed. Unfortunately, even though some suggestions of the Former Force Commander Major General Carlos Cruz to avoid and punish the deviation of one billion dollars each year of humanitarian aid, the problem doesn’t seem to worry the highest levels of UN. Finally, to say that Arab and Latin American countries ‘do nothing to better themselves, only destroy, whine and complain’ is at least a very pour and rough statement that only reveals a great unknowingness of the historical reality that we, North American people, have been lived with.

#44

I have known of these poor people and my heart and prayers are with them. They do not deserve the situation they are in and I am hoping that the United Nations will see fit to offer assistance; if occupation of the country is the solution, then that is what must be done. Haitians have endured this poverty for decades and deserve help more than the Arab and Latin American countries, who do nothing to better themselves, only destroy, whine and complain.

#43

This fact (mud eating) has been in Haiti not from now, but since decades. It just got lately this public exposition, but hunger, misery, social injustice and corruption are not novelty here – rather a daily reality which has much more to tell than what the world media is able to handle. At the same time, there are bright ongoing efforts to change this reality from its root causes – change which requires a shift in humanity’s consciousness, not merely a charity tendency to aid the “Haitian problems”. See http://www.amurthaiti.org and http://www.proutayiti.wordpress.com for some examples of truly progressive projects, which integrate all sectors of development at the grassroots level. Such models are needed to perhaps help Haiti to “aid the world” for its consciousness-blockage problems.

#42

The poor children wait all day long at the bridge and lift their bowls as soon as someone walks past them. Their shrill cries fall on deaf ears only. On the other hand, the affluence of foods kept ready in luxurious houses to entertain the big guns of society ridicules the present human civilization.

#41

Anger over injustices which are described as “trips” over words?
Then may the one close to the situation find a way to use no words and still present an Ignition for asserting a Creativity arisen from the Emptiness of many unresolved unjust hungers which lead to that which is beyond the current literal “circular circumstances” (or, methods of doing the same things over and over again and singing/saying the same tunes/words in the same
tone-deaf meaningless ways) of seemingly
non-workable generational spherical methodologies/ideologies.

Whether words trip or not or are sufficient or not, the creative aspects are still waiting and able to create solutions if properly directed at the actual circumstances and not the perceived or political scenarios.

#40

Melancholy intellectuals trip over their words as half-naked children struggle to exist. Injustice is injustice and the defects in our human society are blatantly clear.

#39

Circular Cookies describing Circular Versions depicting subliminally various Forms of revealing Physical Hungers which parallel those longer enduring inner Appetites–which remain beyond the confinements of currently used earth-plane diplomatic and political Terminologies describing our present bodily Awarenesses–are what is being described, here again: geometrically…beneath these skies where the clouds shown have already previously dissipated while we were describing our remembered Yesterdays till they passed into Forms of Todays which only exist in perceptually edible Figures of Forms shaped as described by demanding Temporal Necessities–Forms of Thoughts which seem melancholy enough to be sure!–but which, still: do not ever confine themselves, evenso, to the Limitations of our Current Understandings of what we do not yet–but, someday, will!–perceive more completely (in fuller Circumference) about all of what seems to be revealed to our physical eyes but seems to remain hidden in Subconcious Intangibilities while still being susceptible to being brought into a place where Formlessnesses can be created into Concious Tangible Somethings which will be edible while deriving from reworked Ideas used in making malleable better Figures which should not
–as they are perceived now–be edible yet bestowing–by the species of the very Fact of their existences–a Present Ignition for asserting a Creativity arisen from the Emptiness of a hunger which may lead to that which is beyond the current literal circular circumstances of seemingly non-workable generational spherical methodologies.

#38

No poetry or free verse to describe this?

#37

João L: “He even considers the need that the corruption with humanitarian aid must be seen as international crime with suspects being judged for tribunals located in other countries”. YES, the stealing of international funds that result in the harm of a population is a crime on the level of war crimes and should be prosecuted as a crime against humanity. When a single child dies unjustly, it reflects the defects in the whole society. We must be aggressive in correcting these defects. We are all affected by these various defects.

#36

Let’s stop urgently feeding Haitian children on mud cookies?

MINUSTAH Force Commander Major-General Carlos Alberto Cruz recent declarations in Geneva to a Brazilian Newspaper (“O Estado de S. Paulo”, ed.03/19/09) are so important that they deserve an especial attention of WorldFocus. Indeed, the statements of the Commander of the UN Peace Troops in Haiti highlight not only corruption with the use of the international resources, but also the need for mechanisms that protect those funds against deviation. As around one billion dollars is addressed to Haiti every year, that Brazilian military advocates the creation of a system for achieving transparency to the distribution of the funds. He even considers the need that the corruption with humanitarian aid must be seen as international crime with suspects being judged for tribunals located in other countries.

João L.

#35

I appreciate the information within this segment about Cite Soleil. I watched this segment when it first aired on WorldFocus and began to think about specific factors that faciliate definition and measurement of poverty within the United States such as the poverty threshold, poverty guidelines, the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U)for all Urban spending, and the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act to name a few. I also thought about how food stamps within the United States are distributed based on eligibility factors as income, group composition, and shelter expenses. However, because the quality of life is different in the United States from the quality of life in Cite Soleil at this time, I am not certain if those who meet the poverty threshold and poverty guidelines within the United States intimately understand the exigent circumstance that the residents of Cite Soleil are experiencing and the difference between poverty in the United States and poverty in Cite Soleil or other parts of the world as Darfur for example. Further, I find it interesting that the term poverty implicates an isolated or regional meaning as opposed to being a universal word with a universal meaning. To play a Brandenburg concerto anywhere in the world would be recognizable and the notes within the manuscript will not change. However, the definition of poverty can be something different and mean something different commensurate on geographical location. Just a thought.
Thanks.

#34

Sad, but true. I volunteer for a non-profit organization, http://www.lifelinehaiti.com founded by Bob Davisson. This Canadian organization builds schools in Haiti.I am the Music Supervisor for a documentary being shot on location in Haiti right now.
http://niteraiders.com/news/
My company and I are proud to be of service…

#33

That is seriously very disgusting! This country must be seriously poor. I hope the global new deal helps them out as well.

#32

I had heard about the mudcakes before, but seeing a photograph with the article really took it to the next level for me. If you are looking for a way to do something to help, you may want to check out the What If Foundation. It is a non-profit started by a woman from Wisconsin who visited Haiti and felt compelled to take action. She started fundraising among friends and family and now the program she started feeds 1500 children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti daily. You can find out more at http://www.whatiffoundation.org She also wrote a book “On That Day Everybody Ate” about her experience in Haiti and how her life was changed forever by it. You can read about the book at http://www.onthatdayeverybodyate.com It’s an amazing testament of how one person can make a difference and help ease the suffering by providing hope in the midst of such inconceivable suffering.

#31

It’s a shame i’m sick to my stomach, i’m so glad that obama is president so he can check into everything. Thank god for him a least someone is doing their job!!! Let’s help the people of haiti http://www.yele.org

#30

With the information bellow about the website that I mentioned and did’nt get through, I complete the 4th. Item of my 29th. Post.
It is:
.

Thanks for your time,

João L.

#29

“No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is part of the continent,
A part of the main.
………………………….
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls.
It tolls for thee.”
(John Donne)

I wonder that I should start saying that I am a Brasilian-American agronomist and that I don’t live in Singapore, as Mr. Randolph Fenner seems to think, but in the States. This way, what he kindly saw as a kind of pride of mine concerning with that city-state, actually it is like a mix of professional feelings of admiration and of the condition of being a kind of humble world citizen. A part of the main, like in the John Donne’s so expressive poem.

For, actually is fascinating the important and continuous work that is done in that city-state, related to the environmental issues in a Tropical region, including the quality of life of its inhabitants and visitors. I have been to Singapore twice and if I would live there, certainly I would be very pleased to welcome the learned Biologist who is Mr. Randolph Femmer, that mixed up my suggestion with an invitation. On the other hand, it pleases me to see that even though he considered unsatisfactory the paradigm that I chose, he adopted the same to the full in his analysis. Anyway, I am afraid that we are going to disagree in several and important issues along this present article.

As a matter of fact, the reference that I made to Singapore just resulted from the highlight that Mr. Randolph Femmer attributed in his analysis to the number of people who compose the Haitian population. Starting from that observation that lead him to call “demographics avalanche” or “Malthusian nightmare” to the Haitian population growth, he quickly correlated it to the poverty and to the environmental degradation extant in Haiti. After reading Mr. Randolph Femmer’s article, I just wanted to show him that a high population doesn’t always imply poverty or environmental degradation. I chose the special example of Singapore to show him that there were some mistakes in the conclusions that he made somewhat quickly. Unfortunately, poverty and environmental degradation could exist even in other first world wealthy cities with lower population density than the Singapore’s ones. Among many of them all over the world, I can include some from the United States which wealth and amenities he just highlighted, like Los Angeles and New York City.

As a matter of fact, if I wouldn’t have adopted such a kind of comparative criteria, one that would read the matter would conclude that the main source of the Haitian poverty and its pressure on productive resources would result only from the fertility of the people. Then, it could be understood that the sole way to extinguish the “demographics avalanche”, the “Malthusian nightmare” problem, would be the acceptance of the need of applying all the efforts to reduce the fertility rates from the poor people, according with the Malthusian principles. (I take benefit of the opportunity to manifest my protests concerning with the policy of sterilization of thousands of women, many of them still very young, in Latin America and Caribbean regions, work that was done and disguised as family planning.)

I wondered that I had made myself clear in the previous article. But, as it doesn’t seem this way, I insist that for doing a complete analysis of the situation that the Haitian people experience, Mr. Randolph Femmer shouldn’t relegate in his observations the historical factors that presided the foundation of the country. For, as it was impossible to Haiti to pay for its freedom the price of 150 million of gold francs to France, this European country accepted 90 millions as “indemnity” to compensate the slave owners of their losses. The payment of this equally huge amount demanded tremendous efforts of the Haitian people and the only and last resort that they had, was the pressure on the natural resources. Besides, there was all over the country a huge environmental exploitation by American corporations supported by our government whether it was done by military occupations or even by giving support to corrupted military juntas and Haitian oligarchies. Soil and all the other natural resources were too much exploited and during the centuries that Haiti does need a special, real and sound help from other countries.

This way, even though the urgent need to deal with the food supply and other health and social economic issues, it would be also convenient to start working in several other areas like, for example, soil and water conditions, agriculture, aquaculture, forestry, hydroponics, aeroponics, and so on.

Anyway, the choice that I made of Singapore, is able to show that the Haitian population density shouldn’t be displayed like the causal agent of the poverty of a people whose majority are dedicated to practice an agriculture without any kind of technical assistance, many times on exhausted soils. So, if one makes a comparison with the two state-nations, is able to see that, considering the Singaporean population standards, Haiti would be able to have over 19 million of inhabitants, since if new opportunities of work would be created and its environment would be equally assisted.

Once again I am turning to Mr. Randolph Femmer’s own example when he mentioned Los Angeles and New York City as first world cities. Yes, they are, for sure, they are wonderful cities, but they also have very serious environmental problems, besides the social ones. However, they both have respectively a low population density (people/sq. Km) of 2, 750 and 2,050 if they are compared with the Singaporean one (8, 750). The last one is 3 times higher, but there is no pollution, no violence, in Singapore, as unfortunately we can find in the cities mentioned by Mr. Randolph Femmer.

This way, I here clarify the reasons why I inserted into the discussion some aspects of the physical and population contexts of Singapore and Haiti, and compared them facing the quality of life and environmental issues. I am afraid of seeing the problems in an opposite way to Mr. Randolph Femmers’s one. But, the appreciation of such a kind of elements as I did, sounds to me more than ever “a fair way to analyze Haiti’s difficulties”. Moreover, the proper and right way to be set against a rushed policy of “family planning” according to the Malthusian standards, let’s read, the failed policy of World Bank and IMF, always applied to the poor people without accurate parallel research.

Now, some short, specific, comments:

(1) - There is no doubt that the current situation of the Haitian people is very serious as Worldfocus praiseworthily exhibited, and will worsen. There is an urgent need of assistance, especially to the children, and which application must be extremely supervised. However, I disagree with the Mr. Randolph Femmer’s projection that considers the Haitian kids feeding themselves with cookies made of mud and similar stuff. It is moving but not very much credible that human populations could double in 25 or 30 years particularly if their kids are having such a kind of food. Obviously, the technical assisted cultivation of the fields doesn’t have to be excluded, but some new agricultural technologies could be transferred to Haitian farmers in a very short time. They could add a substantial amount of food. Also, we must admit that a very well done social work would reduce this current high birth rate. I must say, also, that in no moment I suggested that Singaporean women shift, quickly or not, their average of 1.4 children during her lifetime to 4.86.

May I kindle remind Mr.Randolph Phemmer that Malthusian assumption that human population is doubling each 25 years, is strongly contested by renowned experts. They just have insisted that, historically, it didn’t have grown in exponential proportion and that wealth has a tendency to growth more quickly than population. Please see the Singaporean model, again. As a matter of fact, the old Malthusian theory serves nowadays to provoke enormous concern in our Western elite about “over-population”. This way, it continues to provide enduring argument for avoiding social and economic changes and, unfortunately, it is very frequently used as an instrument against efforts to improve the condition of the poor people. As for me, as an agronomist and told above, I’d better consider that in the Haitian case, for example, many developments in agricultural (broad sense) technology, might permit sufficient increases in the supply of food to feed an increase of the population and in short time period.

(2)- I admire Mr. Randolph Femmer ‘s efforts to collect figures for substantiating his uneasy thesis, but I must say that problems as Haiti presently has, can not be solved only by Biologists – even very capable like him – neither by agronomist engineers as I am. There is need of resorting to the work of specialists in many varied field of studies, like sociologists, social agents, professionals of the different areas like health, domestic economics, education, communication, planning, pedology, hydrology, biology and agronomy, for example. All of them should have the right of having the word and the action. What people could say nowadays of Haiti, has already been said of China, India and even Brazil, countries that the selected numbers weren’t so favorable. However, they rose very fast, even faster that it was expected.

(3) – Once again, Mr. Randolph Femmer is repeating his Malthusian arguments…And, as always, they converge to the same solution of ‘changing’ (let’s read, reducing) the fertility rates of the Haitian people, subject that I have already considered.

(4) – I do agree with the assumption that no city, no country, are “self- supporting” and that prosperity implies an environmental cost. I have no doubt that Mr. Randolph Femmer will agree with me that to reduce this cost it is really important. But, even if the solutions could appear difficult, the professionals that we are, should accept the challenge. As a simple technician and Brazilian-American citizen, I welcome his devoted attention to the subject, as well as the attentions of the people that are eventually reading this matter all over the world.

Finally, as far as I know, Mr. Randolph Femmer’s worries about the daily photosynthesis of the plant life in Singapore and the supply of molecular O2 for the human population are at least somewhat amusing! I am able to make him sure that it’s really impressive how much “green” is the city, how much attention is being given to the “Green Plan 2012” of the city-state government. The entity cares at the same time to the air, water and land. However (even though exceptionally), air quality could plunge in Singapore with Indonesia’s raging forest fires. The normal good air quality of the city-state results also from the effect of the vegetation that there are over there with parks and gardens that includes thousands of trees. They are so many, so well handled, that probably make Singapore the only country all over the Tropics where it’s possible to park anytime a car in the shade of a tree during the hot weather…But I could recommend Mr. Randolph Femmer a visit to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. He certainly will enjoy a view of a precious part of the old Primary Southeast Asian Rain Forest, in its greatness and diversity. Anyway, he could get very good information, including some special ones about CAM photosynthesis, green areas etc, on the website .

It’s good to know that Mr. Randolph Femmer dedicates his attention (and his time) to demographics issues, population trajectories, population-environment subjects, and even has websites to discuss the mentioned issues. How could he conciliate his time with those specific purposes? Does he work for any entity that deals with these subjects? It is not just my case, and I am really sorry since I do not have enough time to dedicate to such fascinating fields and to visit the website that he has referred.

Once again, my sincere appreciation and thanks to Mr. Randolph Femmer’s kind attention and democratic consideration regarding my point of views. To all the Worldfocus personnel, I renew my special admiration for the remarkable journalistic work concerning the quality of life in Haiti. The impressive film about Haitian children feeding themselves with cookies made of filth, dirty mud and water. May it represent a new and special page of the North American journalism book, that can help Haiti, its people, and many other countries and peoples. It would be great to see Haiti practicing its real independence and taking the destiny it deserves as a beautiful, small-great nation.

João L.

#28

If you really want to help and get assistance DIRECTLY to people in Haiti, please look at the following website http://www.whatiffoundation.org for information about the incredible What If? Foundation. This small organization has almost no administrative overhead and instead utilizes a solid partnership with a community group in Haiti to deliver food to people each and every day. They support local farmers, too, so the help really does affect a wider circle than just the children who get to eat. But for those kids? This program is a lifesaver. Aid the way it should be!

#27

I have never been so heart broken in my life, I feel so bad. The next time my kids whine about their dinner choice, I’ll make sure and tell them that the children of Haiti have only mud cookies to eat for dinner. thank you

#26

How can I help and the help goes directly to these people not some large non profit?

#25

your caring presenter walks across the open sewer and on to the cloth being used as a cookie sheet!!

#24

I was once more heart broken when to think that we in the U.S overproduce corn due to gov subsidies. It’s either stored or destroy intentionally. Why not sell it to Haiti(and similar countires) for cheap price. I’m sure that’s do able. Human instinctively feel empathy and to not care for these people ARE WE HUMAN?

#23

This post is a continuation of comments made previously in posts (19) and (20) below.

Thank you again to World Focus, Mr. Ara Ayer, and Mr. Benno Schmidt for their important, moving, and provocative report on worsening humanitarian and environmental conditions in Haiti.

And thank you also to Mr. Joao Lima for his thoughtful observations and comments (20) concerning my earlier post (19). I also thank him for his invitation to visit Singapore - a city and a nation for which he rightfully shows great pride. (I hope that I can visit someday!)

As Mr. Lima points out, Singapore, with a total area of approximately 270 sq. miles and a total population of approximately 4,840,00 inhabitants is a thriving “first world city” with a first-world GDP (and an average household income of S$59,316). To compare Singapore, however, which has achieved these current conditions gradually, with the challenges that Haiti faces may not be a fair way to analyze Haiti’s difficulties.

(One might as well compare Beverly Hills, California or New York City with Haiti since both of those cities also enjoy first world wealth and amenities that Haiti does not have. Once one makes that comparison, however, how has that helped the people of Haiti and the environment in which they live?)

(1) Haiti’s current demographics promise to worsen the conditions that the film already depicts.

If Haiti’s children today are reduced to eating cookies made of mud, and the average woman in Haiti continues to have an average of 4.86 children during her lifetime, we all might reasonably wonder what its doubled population will be doing for food in just 25-30 years.

For comparison, in Singapore today, the average woman has about 1.4 children during her lifetime. If the women of Singapore, with all its wealth, amenities, and infrastructure, were to suddenly shift to the average of 4.86 children each (as seen in Haiti), Singapore’s own living conditions, public services, and political stability might begin to deteriorate pretty rapidly.

(2) Other aspects of Haiti’s demographics (which are typical of less developed countries in general) also present it with challenges that first world cities like Singapore do not face. For example:

Births in Singapore equal approximately 10.4/1000, while in Haiti they equal approximately 35.87 / 1000
Deaths in Singapore equal approximately 4/1000, while in Haiti they equal approximately 10.40 / 1000.

In addition, the median age of Haiti’s residents is approximately 18.4 years, which means that, unlike Singapore, fully 50% of Haiti’s population is less than 18.4 years old. And while Singapore may (or may not) be in a position to provide one or two million well-paying new jobs for its young people in a span of just ten or fifteen years, it seems clear that Haiti does not currently have that capacity.

As a result, Haiti’s demographics are placing essentially impossible demands upon its people - and demands, at that, which would be difficult for even first world communities like Beverly Hills, New York, or Singapore to meet.

(3) In addition, it is important to note that most wealthy first world cities have achieved their amenities, infrastructure, and high degrees of public services gradually, and not in just 25-30 years - and Haiti is on-track to double its numbers in 25-30 years.

It seems doubtful that any nation on earth, if asked to begin with conditions (and demographics) identical to those in Haiti today, could alleviate the suffering and inhumane conditions of its people, produce the jobs and infrastructure of a first world nation, and protect and preserve its environment in just 25-30 years.

If less-developed nations, however, change their demographics (such as fertility rates, for example) to those that the world sees today in Singapore, then those less-developed nations might just stand a chance.

(4) Finally, the high standards of living that residents of first world cities such as Singapore, New York, and Paris do not arise, strictly speaking, from the precise area of land upon which the city rests.

Most of the food and energy needed by New Yorkers, for example, comes from distant regions such as steaks from Brazil or Argentina, oil from the Middle East, corn and wheat from Nebraska, and wood and paper products, perhaps, from logging in tropical forests. Similarly Singapore, for example, obtains much of the energy, food, and other products that it needs for its people to survive and prosper from nearby regions, from the sea, and from distant lands.

What this means is that essentially every city on earth is living beyond the strict carrying capacity of its local environment.

If, for example, the residents of Singapore had to live only on the products, resources, and environmental services available strictly within the 270 sq. miles upon which it rests, it would suffer immediate and catastrophic collapse. That 270 sq. miles for example, would not even generate the food, oil, water, and paper products needed by its 4,840,000 residents. (In fact, it is unlikely that all the daily photosynthesis of all the plant life residing in that 270 sq. miles would produce a sufficient daily supply of molecular O2 to even support the simple breathing of all 4,840,000 of its citizens and the combustion reactions that operate its power plants and vehicular traffic.)

Thus essentially no city on earth, no matter how prosperous, elegant, and wonderful it may be, is “self-supporting.” In each case, the prosperity, elegance, and amenities come at an environmental cost.

In many cases, those costs may not be obvious to local residents because the logged forests, overfished seas, and melting ice caps that support the glamour and the amenities have been shifted to far-distant places.

p.s. - I am a biologist and invite anyone with interests in other implications arising from our current population trajectories to visit one of my population-environment websites (Population and the “Open-Space Delusion”) at http://rocky.xviii.tripod.com

Anyway, thank you again to Mr. Lima for his humanitarian instincts, his observations, and his courteous contribution to this dialogue. And also cheers and all best wishes to the reporting and broadcasting team at World Focus News - and to the people of Haiti (and Singapore, and the world over).

RF

#22

Dear Mr.Ara Ayer and Benno Schmidt:

A few days ago I got to see the news about Haiti mud cookies. Since then I am not able to sleep,think or feel well. I have never felt so close to poverty. I used to live in Mexico and although my family compared to other families was always struggling, we always had something to eat,no matter if was only rice and beans. I have never seen myself in such misery as the Haiti people and I can believe no one can calm their starvation. What is going on with the Human being? I do not want to wait till a country or a President or an Organization does something. I want to know what can I do? How can I send some food or money and make sure these human being will be fed. I have a 20 month old boy who reminds me of what could any child like him be suffering at this moment and I cannot stop crying thinking that Leaders of Nations and the UN are not able to fully help, can you explain why?. I cannot imagine the day where my son or your kids, or the son or daughter of any of the millions who saw the mud cookies news report will be in need of compassion and no one will seek after them. I have always had a soul for the people in need but I have never had the economic resources to help. I do not want to wait till I have money because I want to help now with what I have. I cannot believe how selfish the human being can be. I commented the news to someone and in response I heard: “isn’t poverty all over the world”,”We should start helping in our own country”. Yes, the answer is yes. Poverty is all around the world, so what? Is that a reason to be insensitive to it, or what?. helping only a country like the USA which even in the worst crisis still has people spendind and living lavish life. I am not sure about how much more help can you give to a Nation to ocntinue being selfish. It is very sad to hear people talking about the US economic crisis but we all, as far as I know still drive, eat and live under a confortable place. In the USA the only people in real bad shape are the homeless but still they get a shelter and food. Please help me to have some peace of mind and let me know how can I contribute so people in Haiti eat food istead of Mud. I know you are not only informing you want to create awareness and I believe you want to help. Please let me know how can I contribute so we treat Haiti people as the Human being they are.

Karla

Thank you,

Karla

#21

Why did Benno Schmidt step in the open sewer contaminating the soles of his shoes, then right onto the mat used to dry the “cookies”, making an already unsanitary condition even worse?

#20

I thank the U.S for showing the video. US government is celebrating for doing this ti Haiti.

#19

I congratulate the correspondent Benno Schmidt as well as all the rest of World Focus team on the dramatic but real picture of what is occurring in Haiti. This prime example of journalism has fairly provoked such a large wave of comments that some deserve to be better appreciated to permit a broader vision of the real causes that respond for the Haitian people suffering.

It’s just the case of Mr. Randolph Femmer comments that remembers IFM or World Bank reports and the failed policies of these organisms all over Caribbean and South America countries. For Mr. Femmer’s analysis and suggestion subliminally lead the reader to attribute to the “Malthusian nightmare” the poverty and the environmental degradation that exist today in that country. Just for that I do recommend him a visit to Singapore, which total area is around 683 sq. km and a total population of 4,84 million of inhabitants, against Haiti respective figures of 27,560 sq. km with 8,9 million of total. However, Singapore with such a small and dense populated area has a GDP equal to the one of the 4 leading nations of Western Europe, and that sets against the abject poverty of the suffered Haitian people.

Last but not least, instead of the sally appeal to the Vatican for a most comprehensive vision of the roots of the Haitian misery, why doesn’t he take a look at the Haitian history? To buy the French agreement to its freedom, in punishment for the crime of the liberation, that nation, already devastated by the European conqueror, was obliged to pay a heavy indemnity which had huge adverse effect on its people, on its civilization. Besides that, it’s important to mention not only the President Wilson’s intervention – that left the country again in ruins – and, more recently, the support that military juntas and corrupted oligarchies have received of our country.

João L.

#18

Thank you to World Focus and to correspondent Benno Schmidt and producer Ara Ayer for bringing your viewers this astounding report. It is hard to believe that these conditions exist in the western hemisphere just 600 miles from the United States. It would have been nice if the story could have incorporated three or four facts concerning the demographics of Haiti - past, present, and future.

In 1969, for example, Haiti was poor and had a population of approximately 4,400,000 people. Today its poverty and environmental degradation have worsened to the point that its children are reduced to eating cookies made of dirt just to help fight the hunger pangs in their stomachs - and today’s population has doubled to approximately 8,700,000 people. And 2,500,000 of today’s young people in Haiti are going to be needing jobs in the next ten years or less.

If Haiti’s 1969 population had remained stable, then international aid, humanitarian aid, tourism, and development of infrastructure and human services could have significantly improved conditions for its citizens and protected its tropical environment for tourism. But as this report shows, that stability did not occur and
the results are what we now see today.

Knowing the outcome of Haiti’s past demographic avalanche, anyone who cares about human suffering and the health of the natural environment should make themselves cognizant of the future that will unfold in Haiti if its current demographic behaviors continue. Today, according to C.I.A. World Factbook data, Library of Congress Country Studies data, and “Wikipedia” + “Haiti” + “demographics” data, the average Haitian woman will have an average of 4.8 children during her lifetime, and today’s population of 8,700,000 is on track to double yet again in 25-30 years.

What your report really shows is a Malthusian nightmare that is, unfortunately, also playing itself out in dozens of other poor and less-developed countries.

Mentioning the above demographics in your reports can help humanitarians, the Vatican, and elected officials realize the real-world human and environmental impacts that result when we ignore demographics and its realities.

If Benno and Ara incorporate just a few factual comments on the demographics that underlie so much of the suffering that your report depicts, this report would be deserving of a Pulitzer as one of the very best of the year.

Thank you again and keep up your good work! This report was truly astounding!

#17

FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO HELP: Please consider visiting http://www.yele.org, the charity founded by Wyclef Jean to help the people of his homeland on multiple fronts (education, environment, employment/food, and music - yes, culture is still important to the those at the edge!). Your dollars will go MUCH farther if pooled. I work with the charity and am simply astounded day after day at all they do (they were able to deliver food where the UN was afraid to go, even though the UN was ARMED, and yele was armed only with good will).

#16

hello

i saw this video this morning via my ipod and i cried after seeing it…we in the developed world..even us underlings who are about to be squashed by our collapsing economies…have no idea as to what it is to live in physical survival mode as those Haitian families…so does today’s technology make me a voyeur of a real world “Survivor”.

#15

it is sad to see how the reporter of this television talk.how come they are poor and they have money to buy dirt cookies,explain that to me?

#14

I believe it’s not right for a Island to have to make cookies to eat from mud maybe there is a long term meaning for that despite there efforts for survival any though it’s a tradition I just hope one day she adds other ingredients to make a nutritional cookies are just create a new recipe in Haiti also If you can send me Celaine Denies e-mail are address so I can send her $15-20 dollars.

#13

This is the ultimate example of imballance in human society. When a huge flow of excess goes to a few, then the many eat dirt to survive. Of course Haiti is a complex matter, but still we must realize that when one part of humanity suffers - we all do or will suffer.

Neil in Atlanta

#12

I can’t get into the politics of things. I can only reach out to one human at a time. Send me Celaine Denies’ address or God willing if she has a phone number so I can send her a little money. Please don;t ignore me. $20.00 will go far.

#11

Harry,

Do you have the latest flash player installed? If not, you can get it here:

http://www.adobe.com/support/flashplayer/downloads.html

If you’re still having problems, you can always watch the video on our YouTube channel:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3337cj4sJQ

Hope that helps,

Thanks,
Katie
Worldfocus Web team

#10

I CAN’T PLAY THE VIDEO ABOUT THE HAITIAN COOKIES. ARE THERE ANY OTHERS HAVNG THIS PROBLEM?

#9

How could we as a Nation help our poor neighbors, especially the children? This is happening in our foot steps…. Anyone that had seen that presentation on 2/19/09 have to get sick to see how in this era there are people surviving rather that living. This needs to be address at a World Level.

#8

How do we help?
Does anybody have any practical answers that circumvent whatever mechanisms are being used to divert aid that is reaching the country?

#7

This poverty is on our doorstep is there nothing we can do? I know the USA gives aid do they ask for any explanation of how and where the money is use? If not this shows they should probably start.

#6

Wow! how can we, (U.S. Taxpayers) give Israel, 15 million dollars a day, when the children of Haiti (OUR NEIGHBORS!) are eating dirt! Maybe the judgement, will be upon us, in 2012?

#5

I and my family are sadden to hear of this news. What’s happening to aid from the US, where are those dollars? The statictics of the levels of proverty is unbelievable — it looks like slavery without chains, like know one gives a damn, yet we spend billions on others, in form of aid, building infrastructures and provide food. This is an outrage to witness, when will the Haitian leaders be held accountable for the state of affairs in Haiti. They should be ashamed to discuss the level of poverty their people are enduring. I pray for help and relief!

#4

is it any wonder that every 6 months or so Haitians decide that they have nothing to lose but their chains? Viewing the video makes me both sick to my stomach and outraged that such a situation exists only about a couple of hours away from Disneyland. Haitian leaders should be held accountable for the state of affairs in Haiti. Yet the US government claims to provide millions of dollars a year to Haiti. It may be time to take an in-depth look at US aid to Haiti to see whether US funds are being spent well and are in fact alleviating poverty. There’s little evidence so far as I can see of any improvements.

#3

Trust me guys, we as haitians we can help .If we stop see things for ourselves we start to help other believe in me we will make a change.Don’t let our country down like that please stand for it and make it happens

#2

Trust me i know how 3 hrs of seperation divides the world. Despite everything going on in that country with disease, famine and devastation from hurricanes,our govt still treats their citizens like nothing. If you shut ur eyes, its probably going to be harder to see the garbage going on.

#1

If this weren’t so clearly true, one would think it were some kind of sick joke.

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