DEVELOPMENT | Small Steps to Rebuilding Haiti


The constant coverage of devastation left in the wake of hurricane Sandy drew my mind to recent natural disasters and the effect they have in countries without funds or infrastructure to recover, rehabilitate or rebuild. Very few news stations addressed the damages caused to countries other than America during the super storm, particularly the Caribbean nation of Haiti. With 20 inches of rainfall in the southern peninsula, severe damages to local infrastructure and a recorded death toll of 52 people, it seems that development in this nation has succumbed to even further pressures from Mother Nature. Almost three years have passed since a devastating earthquake brought Haiti to its knees and although the financial response from the international community was astounding, the recovery process has been slow. An estimated 100,000 people died as a result of the quake and 1.5 million lost their homes, of whom some 500,000 remained in temporary housing as of January this year*. 

Whilst the magnitude of such a calamity is surely overwhelming, it's small steps from entrepreneurs, both local and foreign, who can really make a difference at a local level, however small. New York based designer Donna Karan is doing just that through her brand Urban Zen, working with Haitian artisan groups and manufacturers to create pieces for her collection. "Where there is creativity there is hope ... and Haiti is the most hopeful place I've experienced" explains Karan who, since the events of 2010, has been on a mission to develop and market Haitian artisanal product to a wider international audience. 

Image Urban Zen

Toasted Horn rings US$50  Image Urban Zen

The Urban Zen collection represents Haitian artisans whilst catering to Karan's distinct aesthetic, but if you find it prohibitively expensive, Caribbean Crafts are turning out pocket friendly options for the home too, available through their own website and Anthropologie

To find out more about the work Urban Zen is doing in Haiti or to donate click here.

*although figures vary greatly  

You Might Also Like