FIU brings together Haiti specialists; calls for continued attention on Haiti

The emotion-filled discussion spanned issues from the immediate humanitarian needs, to the politics of rebuilding and the impact the earthquake will have on local services, including the public schools in Miami-Dade County.

“Even with the best efforts of the international community, the death toll in Haiti is going to continue to rise,” said Jessy Devieux, a public health professor at FIU, who is Haitian-American. “Untreated wounds, poorly treated injuries, secondary illnesses such as kidney problems from the toxins in the blood, these will be the next wave of issues. When people congregate in places like refugee camps, simple colds and flu will spread.”

FIU professor Richard Olson, who specializes in disaster recovery issues, said that recovery involves long-term social, economic, political and governance and technical issues.

“We have to be advocates for representative democratic governance , its creation and strengthening,” said Olson, who also urged a discussion on where the Haitian capital should be rebuilt. “Haiti must deal with issues of better land use and better building codes.”

According to geology professor Grenville Draper, Port-Au-Prince is built on an alluvial plane, which, as opposed to bedrock, exaggerates the effect of an earthquake.

Turning to the effects of the tragedy on Miami, Assistant Superintendent of Dade-County Public Schools Daniel Tosado, said that the district has already enrolled two students who survived the earthquake in Haiti and is getting ready to serve many more.

FIU Law Professor Troy Elder announced that the Carlos A. Costa Immigration Clinic at FIU is seeking volunteers to help local undocumented Hatians fill out the paperwork to apply for Temporary Protective Status (TPS), which the Obama administration offered to Haitians already in the U.S.

To volunteer please call 305-348-7541 starting Tuesday morning.

FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg, who opened and closed the Teach-In, said that the scope of the situation in Haiti is very taxing at the human and organizational level. Rosenberg specifically asked the more than 200 participants to bring forth ideas on ways that FIU should assist in the recovery. Some of the ideas included: FIU professors making a greater effort to educate local community on Haiti through organizations and the media, the reinstatement of a study abroad program in Haiti, and the mobilization of the entrepreneur community to invest in Haiti.

To watch the webcast of the event, visit (RealPlayer required).

To hear FIU faculty expert comments on Haiti, click on the videos below:

Disaster Recover: Immediate and long-term issues
Richard Olson, professor and chair
Department of Politics and International Relations
School of International and Public Affairs

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Haitian Temporary Protected Status: What it means for Miami
Troy Elder, associate clinic professor
FIU Carlos A. Costa Immigration and Human Rights Clinic
College of Law

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Children & Public Health: Mental and public health issues facing Haitians
Jessy Devieux, associate research professor and clinical psychologist
Department of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work

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International attention: Sustaining interest in Haiti beyond the crisis
Alex Stepick, professor, Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies
Director, FIU Immigration & Ethnicity Institute
School of International and Public Affairs

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