A Call to the Haitian Diaspora as Architects of Change in Haiti by Ralph Roh

A Call to the Haitian Diaspora as Architects of Change in Haiti
A young Haitian gave a riveting speech to a limited audience that I believe Haitians, especially in the far-flung Diaspora, must hear. Ralf Roh, 40, believes that change for a new Haiti rests with its daughters and sons abroad. Thus, when he was invited to address the Georgia Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce which, each year, organizes a gala to raise funds for High School graduates entering College or University, he called on all “to get involved” for that change to occur.

Thinking that Jovenel Moïse may have been an instrument for that change, he was very active in the candidate’s campaign for the presidency, and worked in his administration for two years, advising the president on social issues and communication. He resigned December 2018, due to “incompatibility”

with the administration. Since then, he told me “I committed the rest of my life to Haiti,” to bring change in Haiti in his lifetime.
His sincerity and dedication touched me, and I feel many more should listen attentively to that speech of August 7, 2021 which, unplanned, was delivered exactly one month, to the day, following the horrible assassination of President Moïse. Thus, the mention in the speech, as he noted, “the assassination of a head of state is enough to shock our conscience into creating a new national order. . . .” I offer you the full speech, which I consider to be a convincing call to action.
Raymond A. Joseph

Ralf Roh, at the podium at the Gathering Spot in Atlanta
Distinguised guests, Distinguished guests,
Members of the Chamber, Members of the Chamber,
and my dear future Leaders,
Good evening.

Every year, the Georgia Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce gathers in a similar room to deliver a state of affairs, to express its activism, and to embolden the next generation of leaders such that our homeland, Haiti, becomes a developed nation in our lifetime.

I stand here tonight, filled with bright optimism, to acknowledge that the work you all have been doing in the diaspora, in your communities, on behalf of Haiti is inspiring!

When the evidence of your misfortunes seemed vast and stretched over a long period, you have dispelled the paralyzing myths and rebuilt a good life abroad, matured into a generation who refused to accept drawbacks as your children’s inheritance.

You have tackled life ambitiously, set high goals for yourselves and your families. The race relations and the culture shock you experienced on foreign shores often made for a difficult integration, but through resilience you assimilated anyway in order to break economic barriers; though never being disconnected from our cultural identity.

You have remained true to our “griot and pikliz” as much to our ideals of education and pushing your children to be better than yourselves.
You have always worked hard, daring to want more and always giving back.

Your leadership continued to transcend Haiti to impact the diaspora, working to promote the framework and policies for our people to empower themselves, to encourage interactions with business associations, religious groups and trade unions.

The future of Haiti depends on its Diaspora Our diaspora network is now endorsed with the widening of visions for Haiti to be rebuilt, to grow and be
made greater, as our posterity may keep through many years the ideals that will restore a better country; for that generations of our leaders be armed with not only the intelligence but the courage to be bold, while avoiding the excesses of idealism and the conveniences of opportunism to forever move Haiti forward in moderation, harmony and prosperity.

There is no more denying that the meaningful solutions, like delivering vital public services, driving economic growth and articulating calls for greater democracy and human development — all rest with us; they lie in tapping the vital resource that we, the diaspora, represent to Haiti.
This year, we must stand braver than before, as we all agree to embark with a more ambitious pledge to ourselves and to our posterity: the pledge to vindicate the honor of the homeland, as we bound together in a permanent union as a diaspora, a union superior to the control of all foreign force or influence, a union that can always order the terms of our existence. So, we can rebuild a prosperous Haiti dedicated to the mighty proposition that united, we are stronger, a better Haiti that assumes its rightful place among nations with a new era of greatness that commands us through centuries of leadership in the world.

To the pessimists out there, who proclaim that we are too fragmented as a diaspora to be effective.
To those same cynics who are predisposed in keeping us jammed up in the culture of small thinking, in business initiatives that function only as informal operations…

For the perpetual doubters who continue to find a problem in every proposed solution, blocking our remittances from funding sustainable sectors of Haiti’s economy…
Today we’ve got news for them: the diaspora is coming through; we are getting involved. We know our worth, we know our place, our time is now.
The time has come, for the total inclusion of the diaspora; for us to access the real strength of our community.
Our generations of educated and highly skilled human capital can be harnessed into a major source of development financing, a partner for long-term trade and investment.

To all out there: Get Involved
Therefore, let us get involved!

The money we send back home only to import rice from Arkansas can be used to address our shortcomings in agricultural and economic infrastructures, we can and we should grow our own food.
Let us get involved!

Our engineers can manage developments/improvements of water, sewer and stormwater systems to enable our cities and metropolitan areas to function as centers of commerce, industry, entertainment and human habitation.
Let us get involved!

Our many talented physicians, nurses and medical staffers, can transform Haiti into a center of affordable health tourism with state-of-the-art information infrastructure that expands beyond the concept of treatment to preventative care.
Let us get involved!

Our university professors, PhD holders, can help rebuild a world-class public education system, — one that is advanced, progressive and responsive to the needs of Haiti and the global economy.
Let us get involved!

Our many investment bankers and financial advisors working to advance Wall Street and other foreign nations’ economies, can help redesign banking infrastructure to provide all citizens and businesses with access to a fully functional national credit system.
Let us get involved!

Our economists in the diaspora, they are enough to help Haiti ensure reasonable macroeconomic stability through monetary policies that effectively manage inflation and interest rates.
Let us get involved!

Our young leaders and public servants can rejoin the homeland to ensure tranquility and justice in our political process, for that our loud dissents no longer personify the frustrations and reverberations of century-old iniquities, but be exercised in subordination to good order.
Let us get involved!

Our network of lawyers, judges, law enforcement retirees can oversee our police reform, strengthen the fundamentals of justice and uphold the rule of law, so that our common liberty no longer constitutes our demise.
We must get involved. We must participate.

As we tirelessly work to secure due compensations of a stronger government, a vibrant economy on our terms, and a more equitable society befitting of a working democracy, we too, as Haitians, invoke the Creator’s endowment of sacrosanct rights to promote the general welfare, sustain the prosperity of commerce, protect human health and the environment, dedicating significant and continued investment in shared infrastructure, vital resources to develop and empower our human capital for current and future needs.

Let this be our earnest Creed in our quest to secure endless and unmarred blessings of liberty, to direct ourselves and our posterity to a boundless reality.

Appeals to future leaders, to members of the Chamber –indeed to all And to you dear awardees, future leaders, always stand ready to answer the call of duty. As you transition, this month, from high school to college, I urge you to never let the trials ahead subdue your aspirations; never allow the discouragements to hold you back; more importantly, do not let intellectual formatting ever override your passions — through your passions you will find your calling.

And when you do embrace your mission, your purpose in this life, I encourage you to continuously reflect on yourselves — reexamine your strengths, underline your characters, move beyond comfort zones, to make impacts, to transform communities, to shake the world, also to reshape Haiti: out loud or in silence.
Haiti needs you all!

With the academic lights you shall receive, you must slowly remove the distances between men or women. That is the leadership responsibilities you are pledging today as a covenant to be leaders in communities, in businesses and in governments! Go live for the future of Haiti, steering every moment toward a dream bigger than yourselves. Get involved! These are my wishes for you all.

To you, dear members of the Chamber of Commerce and all its affiliates, there is an urgency, a moral obligation to achieve a competitive economy and to transform Haiti into a new, empowered, emerging force, a leader in innovation, environmental sustainability and socioeconomic justice.
You can transport the same creative economy here in Atlanta to the corners of Cap-Haitian, the carnivals in Jacmel and the stretch of beaches in Aux Cayes.

You can create and control your own eco-system through the BEL Initiative just like you want, bridging Haiti with global commerce.
You can, we can, do all of this and more. Remember, we have a moral obligation to participate. Because if we don’t, the wrong ones will.
While Haiti is in the midst of a dark time, know that better days lie ahead. The light and goodness in the heart of a single Haitian, the prayers of a long-suffering mother, the loneliness of a widow or an orphan, the grief of a young man who cannot find work, the hunger pains of a child who cannot eat, or the assassination of a head of state is enough to shock our conscience into creating a new national order, a torch of sincerity to pick up the pieces, renew Haiti’s spirit and restore our dignity as a people.

Our ancestors fought for a dream, they created a nation, shared a vision for successive generations, each of us to continue to answer the call of service to protect and expand the torch of the nation’s promises.

As you depart from here tonight, if you retain anything, let it be to get involved. Yes, Get involved in the political improvement, economic growth and social development of a brand-new Haiti, one that can no longer be impeded by human agendas or threatened by the uncontrollable forces of nature.

Let no one dissuade you of the belief that Haiti can change, that Haiti will change in our lifetime, and that change will be on our own terms. We are launching this new and contagious wind of hope, to assert firm control of the nation's destiny and to overturn the challenges that have plagued Haiti for decades. Thank you very much everybody for your attention.
Go get involved!
May God bless you all and the Republic of Haiti!

publication from weekly Haiti-Observateur Vol. LII No.50 of december 21, 2022, P. 14, 15

Haïti-Observateur / ISSN: 1043-3783