Daniel Jean-Louis and Jacqueline Klamer:
And thousands of Haitians lost their jobs.
In the weeks following, local corner store pharmacies couldn’t compete with the donated pain relievers, hydrogen peroxides, and vitamins imported and distributed by international non-profit organizations. Many shops that usually have a consistent client-base were wiped out. Other small businesses, including corner stores that filter water in 5-gallon buckets, couldn’t compete against free water distributed throughout the temporary tent camps and houses intact.
Yet, it wasn’t just the corner stores that were impacted by the influx of free donated products. It was also the Haitian hospitals and Haitian doctors, nurses and therapists. Months later, when non-profit organizations argued that the Haitian clinics needed to continue providing their services for free (even though patients were no longer coming in for emergency care, but rather normal annual check-ups or a mild sore throat), many doctor’s offices and even hospitals went out of business.
People around the world chose to help Haiti through aid. But these efforts produced many unintended consequences that hurt Haitians.
It’s important to note here that we are not aid-bashers. Aid is not a problem in itself. In fact, Christians are called in Scripture to care for their neighbor, the weak, the widow and orphan. The issue is the way current aid models are practiced in Haiti’s market-based economy. After all, sometimes the widow and orphan own a business.