Helen Clark: Screening of “Haiti Rebuilds: A Journey of Hope”

Feb 21, 2012

Opening Remarks by Helen Clark Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme on the occasion of the screening of “Haiti Rebuilds: A Journey of Hope”
Columbia Journalism School, New York
Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Thank you for joining us at the premiere of “Haiti Rebuilds: A Journey of Hope”, and thank you to our hosts at the Columbia Journalism School.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) fully appreciates the value of film as a medium for conveying powerful images about its work and about the challenges developing countries face.  Last year we released a film on the Himalayan glacial melt, showing how that poses considerable risks to more than a billion people in Asia. We were most fortunate to have it aired on the Discovery Channel to wide audiences.

We have also partnered for two years with the One Day on Earth initiative. It brings together a global community of more than 18,000 film makers to film issues which impact on them or their communities on a single day. The film also depicts how UNDP is working in more than one hundred countries. The feature length documentary film produced by One Day on Earth film will be launched globally on Earth Day, on the 22 April.

This evening, however, we invite you to embark on a screen journey with five young people: Huguens Saintil, Jean-Pierre Belony, Guy-Marie Jean-Louis, Manasse Fortune and Massena Cesar. Massena has come from Haiti to be with us tonight. Each has recently graduated from Ciné Instute, Haiti’s only professional film academy based in the southern coastal town of Jacmel.

January 12, 2010, was a day of immense pain for Haiti. The devastating earthquake claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people, injured many, and displaced 1.5 million people.

The young Haitians with us tonight decided to make a film about what has happened since. In addition to film making being their profession, I’m told that the process of making the film has been beneficial for the Cine Institute students, some of whom, like so many Haitians, lost family members and friends, and saw their homes collapse.

The film institute has partnered with UNDP to support this movie. It conveys impressions of the reconstruction process through the eyes of young Haitians. The project’s mentor and director is award-winning documentary filmmaker Jonathan Stack, who is also here with us tonight. Mr. Stack flew to Haiti in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, and has since been one of Cine Institute’s mentors.

UNDP has been working hard on Haiti’s recovery from the earthquake, in support of strengthening the government’s capacity and ensuring that Haitians themselves drive the recovery. We also partner with local civil society and the private sector to “build back better”, in order to create more resilience to future adversity. Job creation, debris removal, housing, and environmental and disaster risk reduction initiatives are at the heart of our work. Some of these are captured in this film.

“Haiti Rebuilds: A Journey of Hope” also conveys a sense of Haiti’s rich cultural traditions and life, and of the strength of its people. As the filmmakers say, Haiti might be a poor country, “but its people will never be poor.”

UNDP hopes that this film will help stimulate a strengthened and continuous international response to the remaining challenges in “building back” a better Haiti. Two years on from the quake, just half of the promised aid has been delivered. A lot more delivery is needed. Our goal is the empowerment of the Haitian people who build their own sustainable future.

We invite you to enjoy the film!

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