One of the poor neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. (Photo: Alsandro, Wikimedia Commons)
(BWA) – The president of the Christian University of Northern Haiti, also known as UCNH, made an impassioned call to Haitians to work together for national reconstruction.
"The future of this country depends on us Haitians – not foreigners – and it is up to us to save the homeland," declared Jules Casseus, who was speaking at the recent graduation exercise of UCNH, formerly known as Haiti Baptist Theological Seminary and renamed in 1993.
Even though Haiti is the first independent majority-black country in the Americas, it is the poorest nation in the western hemisphere.
UCNH, founded by the Baptist Convention of Haiti, a member body of the Baptist World Alliance, is a private, Christian four-year university in Limbe, in the largely under-served rural north of Haiti. It is one of only a handful of colleges located outside of a major Haitian city and seeks to meet the need for higher education among the less wealthy.
The university president declared that "permanent, incessant and total education – university education – is the ultimate weapon for the emancipation of the people of Haiti," and that "we must submit to the rigor of a thorough education, a specialized education, to change our mentality, our worldview, our outlook toward the well, the good and the beautiful."
Casseus decried individualism, mismanagement and environmental degradation in the Caribbean country. "The case of Haiti remains a clinical case," he said. "We hurt ourselves by our ignorance, our individualism and our irresponsibility that make our living conditions worse."
Deforestation and soil erosion continue to cause severe problems, agricultural production continues to decline and give way to imports, and "the accelerated migration of our Haitian brothers seems to have no limit. They continue to leave the country en masse," Casseus said.
"Those responsible for public administration continue to put their personal advantage before the country, and corruption is rampant," he said. "The principles of respect for others, the right and duty of the citizen, human rights and justice are no longer observed," Casseus said.
In a call to action, he told the students, faculty, staff and guests at the graduation ceremony, "We must continue to deploy more efforts to reach the new Haitian society that we dream of for the 21st century, and the third centenary of our first black republic."
French- and Creole-speaking Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic.