Bearing Witness

by Billy Shore

Jim and Karen Ansara: Not giving up on Haiti

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


We had dinner over the weekend with Jim and Karen Ansara, and the talk turned to Haiti, to which he will be returning tomorrow as he has every 7-10 days since the earthquake last January.

Ground has been broken in Mirebelais for the hospital whose construction Jim is overseeing. The cornerstone will be laid on September 10 with completion hoped for in 15 months. Jim has spent almost as much time in the Dominican Republic where he searches for contractors, though most of the labor will be Haitian. The hospital is one of the largest construction projects underway since the quake and may be impressive enough to draw some Haitian away from Port au Prince to the more welcoming Central Plateau. Meanwhile Karen has just announced a first round of grants from the Boston Foundation where she and Jim put up the money but gave Haitians living in Boston the decision making responsibility.

The massive tarp and tent camps of homeless Haitians in Port au Prince have turned dangerous and the expectation is that they will be there for years. The cash for work programs are rumored to be riddled with fraud. Most of the aid workers are gone. There are a thousand reasons for giving up. The Ansara’s haven’t. Their continuing commitment inspires. They are true heroes of Haiti.