Haiti: UN restores provincial library to give children alternative to delinquency

Haiti: UN restores provincial library to give children alternative to delinquency

A provincial library in north-eastern Haiti has been resurrected thanks to funding by the United Nations peacekeeping mission, just one of the many so-called Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) that it is carrying out to improve community life in the impoverished Caribbean country.

“The goal of this project is to encourage young people of the town to undertake cultural projects in this space, joining the useful with the pleasant,” Principal Deputy Special Representative Luiz Carlos da Costa said at the recent inauguration of the library in Fort-Liberté, the main town in the north-east.

The library, which once had only seven books, now has more than 1,000 thanks to $3,500 donated by the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

“To open the doors to a library is to close the doors to juvenile delinquency,” library director Mesmin Cape said at the ceremony in the town, which has some 20,000 primary and secondary schoolchildren. “We had tried several ways, but it is MINUSTAH which has responded. Thank you!”

QIPs are widely viewed as being among the most effective tools used by UN missions around the world to help local communities at ground level and at low cost, from repairing leaking roofs in schools in Georgia to opening a vocational centre in Liberia to refurbishing sanitation facilities in Burundi.

Mr. da Costa stressed that re-commissioning the library would build lasting links between the local authorities, MINUSTAH and the people. Renovation of the roof, painting and building a toilet were carried out by MINUSTAH’s Uruguayan contingent. The books are mainly in Creole and French, but there are also some in English and Spanish.

MINUSTAH, set up in 2004 to help re-establish peace in the impoverished Caribbean country after an insurgency forced President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to go into exile, has recently been concentrating on ridding some of the violence-ridden country’s most dangerous areas, such as the Cité Soleil neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince, the capital, of armed criminal gangs.

But at the same time it has not forgotten its humanitarian and social programmes in Cité Soleil in connection with the clean-up of the gangs, restoring schools, organizing children’s sports, and providing meals, water, first aid and school supplies.