How far will $1 go in earthquake ravaged Haiti these days? A dollar a day is all local Haitians are asking from relief workers who need the locals to translate for them. Not many of those who came from Southern California or Idaho speak French let alone Creole; the two main languages in Haiti. The end result is translators are in demand.
“These people are looking for any kind of work they can get and relief workers, from those who hand out supplies to others working in hospitals need people who can translate their orders to the local population,” said Los Angeles based KNX News Radio reporter Andrew Mollenbeck who is embedded with the US Navy in Port-au-Prince. “All they are asking for is a dollar a day in wages and a dollar a day goes a long way here in Haiti.”
Mollenbeck said he’s had little trouble finding Haitians who speak English but hospitals are running into the problem of having to ask questions of the injured who only speak Creole. Even people such as Red Cross workers need to get their directions out to crowds who are seeking food and supplies and often they need someone who can repeat their instructions to the mostly French and Creole speakers. Often there are so many looking for this kind of work there soon becomes no room at the inn so to speak.
“Some of the workers have come up to the hospital tents and been told the medical people are already fully staffed with translators today and they should come back tomorrow,” added Mollenbeck. “The locals are happy to get a dollar a day and are trying to feed their families.”
When Haiti starts to rebuild it will be more like a million dollars a day as hundreds of millions of dollars will be pouring in from the United Nations, the United States and other nations around the world. The rebuilding effort will begin with contracts being handed out across the globe.
“I suspect the US will get quite a lot of those contracts as well as other countries in the region,” said Dr. Pamela Falk, an instructor and CBS resident correspondent at the United Nations. “The French will likely get some of those contracts as France has a long history with Haiti.”
It is widely expected there will be a wide opportunity for fraud when those millions start pouring in with the Haitian government being overwhelmed by what has gone on to date. The history of Haitian politics is widely known as one of corruption with the likes of the Duvalier family and Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The UN will have to keep a close eye on where the funding goes and it’s hoped the US will be involved in making sure it’s well spent. US troops could be in Haiti for longer than six months just helping to police the country which during the early aftermath of the quake was rocked by looting and murder in the streets. The current government of Rene Preval will have its hands full, but if done correctly and the money well spent, Haiti could come out of this tragedy much better than it was when the earthquake occurred.