Cartoons to rebuild lives in Haiti
A cartoon-based newspaper in Haiti focuses on human rights, education and health issues - and has the highest circulation in the country.
| PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti
• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.
More than half of all Haitians cannot read or write, so foreign aid workers here have had to come up with new ways to reach the people they serve.
One of the more creative initiatives to date has been a cartoon-based newspaper, Chimen Lakay (“The Way Home”), currently the largest-circulation newspaper in the country. Averaging 400,000 copies per issue, it’s the only mass-market publication in Creole.
“Haitians are extremely proud of their culture,” says Leonard Doyle, head of communications at the International Organization for Migration in Haiti, which publishes the paper. “And while many are illiterate, a comics-based newspaper is an ideal way of passing on often lifesaving information....”
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Mr. Doyle says the free paper – illustrated by the lauded Haitian artist Chevelin Pierre – focuses on self-help and education. It is distributed in Haiti’s most vulnerable communities, including the hundreds of tent camps set up after the massive earthquake two years ago.
Past issues of the paper have focused on curbing violence against women and containing the spread of cholera. Future issues will deal with the forthcoming carnival season and encourage the half a million living in camps since the earthquake to think of creative ways to move back to their communities.