Youth leaders from Plan Haiti-supported clubs meet with UN's Nigel Fisher
On Saturday, five young people from Plan-supported rights’ clubs from the North-east, South-east and West departments had the opportunity to interview Nigel Fisher, the United Nations’ Humanitarian Coordinator for Haiti. For well over an hour the youths led a discussion with him and asked pointed questions about the UN’s post-earthquake humanitarian response, such as what would he personally do to ensure more youth participation in the future.
The interview was part of a youth-led evaluation that is a follow-up to the children’s Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), a 2010 report facilitated by Plan Haiti and supported by UNICEF, which contains the feedback—collected one month after the earthquake—of some 1,000 youths from all over Haiti about how the country should be reconstructed.
After the interview concluded Kesnel Dorlean, age 22, one of the youth evaluators said: “I was impressed by the interview with Nigel Fisher. He was very wise as a UN representative, and he was able to respond to all the questions that we asked. I am glad we are participating in the decision-making of the country.”
According to Jo-Ann Garnier-Lafontant, Plan Haiti’s Director of Strategy, Policy and Advocacy, who also attended the discussion, “these young people brought up through the Plan Haiti-supported rights clubs showed that they are confident, educated about the issues and fearless about asking the hard questions, especially to those persons who have influence over Haiti’s future.”
Mr. Fisher’s spokesperson, Emmanuelle Schneider, said that this was the first time that Mr. Fisher had been formally interviewed by Haitian youths. “The questions they asked were at a very high level,” she remarked. She also said that meeting with the youths was very important for Mr. Fisher, since communicating directly with the Haitian community about the humanitarian response - and the longer term recovery efforts - is one of his top priorities.
Of the interview Mr. Fisher said: “The young people’s questions were really intelligent—they were very incisive. I thought it was a very good initiative.” He also said he was going to read the children’s PDNA report that the youths had signed and handed to him.
Mr. Fisher, also “urged the youth to think not just about an evaluation, about what they would recommend.” He continued, “I think with a new government coming in, it’s very important that young people make a proposition about what they can do to promote national unity and a sense of community—a specific campaign that can say: ‘We young people are coming together for Haiti and we’re doing this without anybody telling us to do so — we are taking the lead.’”
The current youth-led evaluation, which began in December 2010, is now being finalized by the youths under the guidance of a Haitian consultant, Anathalie Durand. Mr. Fisher said that when it was completed he would help the youths share the report with Haiti’s decision-makers.