November 14, 2002 - Issue: Vol. 148, No. 147 — Daily Edition107th Congress (2001 - 2002) - 2nd Session
HONORING LOUNE VIAUD; Congressional Record Vol. 148, No. 147
(Extensions of Remarks - November 14, 2002)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Pages E2035-E2036] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] HONORING LOUNE VIAUD ______ HON. BARBARA LEE of california in the house of representatives Thursday, November 14, 2002 Mr. LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Ms. Loune Viaud, the 2002 recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Humanitarian Award. The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award was established in 1984 to honor creative individuals who are often at great personal risk, engaged in strategic and nonviolent [[Page E2036]] efforts to overcome serious human rights violations. Loune Viaud is well deserving of this award because she has demonstrated leadership by expanding the delivery of health and social services to indigent Haitians suffering from HIV/AIDS and other debilitating diseases. She is a champion of Haiti's poor. We all know that Haiti is one of the most impoverished nations in the Western Hemisphere. With over 300,000 people infected with HIV/AIDS out of its small population of 8 million, Haiti is in a crisis. Haiti is also facing a devastating AIDS orphan crisis with more than 163,000 children whose parents have died from AIDS complications. It is appalling that only one in every ten thousand Haitians has access to a physician, and tuberculosis remains one of the major causes of adult mortality. In fact, cases of tuberculosis and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in Haiti are more than ten times as high as those in other Latin American countries. I want to praise Loune for rising to the challenge and for her significant work in Haiti. Her contributions are critical to the welfare of Haiti, as well as the welfare of our global community. Upon learning she had been selected as the Robert F. Kennedy award recipient, Loune Viaud stated, ``For the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial to choose me, a humble foot soldier in the struggle for health and human rights, as the recipient of this prestigious award means more than I can say. For I am a Haitian, and the majority of Haitian people have always stood for equality. From 1791, when we fought against slavery to become the world's first independent republic born of a slave revolt, until 1990, when we again declared as a people our belief in social and economic rights as a human rights platform, the Haitians have struggled against long odds. Two hundred years of struggle, much of it in isolation even from those who profess a belief in human rights. Thank you for reminding us that we are never, in fact, really alone.'' Loune maintains a clinic situated on the Central Plateau in rural Haiti. She offers free health care to the hundreds of thousands of people living in the region. Last year alone 56,000 people came to the clinic for medical help. In 2002 more than 100,000 people will be treated there. The clinic, Zanmi Lasante, addresses the overall needs of the community surrounding it. It has special clinics for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, a clinic for women (Proje Sante Fanm), a special center for children and an operating theatre. The complex also develops educational projects on HIV/AIDS sanitation and human rights. Although the clinic is built in an underdeveloped region, Zanmi Lasante's treatment program is proof that diseases that are difficult to treat can be addressed in rural areas. The clinic, however, does not stop there. It's program treats the patients and empowers them to understand their rights. In 2001, Viaud was instrumental in developing a patient's Bill of Rights with a group of 60 HIV-positive patients. The patients view their health care as a basic human right, not charity. Viaud's work attacks the symptoms of a greater and more persistent human rights violation, namely the right to healthcare. Article 19 of the Haitian Constitution states that the Government of Haiti is obliged to provide basic health care to its citizens. The Government has stated that it would develop other health facilities, following Zanmi Lasante's model, in other parts of the country if it had the resources. I, along with other members of the CBC agree that the Haitian government should receive the funding already promised from the IDB Bank in 1996 for humanitarian assistance. In every sense, the disbursement of these loans can mean the difference between life and death. I want to assure Loune and her partners in Haiti that their work does not go unrecognized. I stand with you in this effort. As African- Americans and as a members of the Congressional Black Caucas' Haiti Task Force, we have recognized the urgency in Haiti. Together, we have worked to introduce legislation that would decouple the humanitarian crisis in Haiti from the political impasse, which has further impeded Haiti's development since the 2000 elections. The resolutions was designed ensure that financial assistance from the international financial institutions can be disbursed to Haiti. You have my assurance that this work will continue. We must make it our mission to advance the development of a stronger and more meaningful partnership between the United States and Haiti. In closing, I want to commend Loune Viaud for her work in Haiti. She is helping to build a strong foundation for the future development of Haiti. We must recognize the distress Haiti is in however, we must also look forward with hope. It is my honor to work with you and I look forward to our collective efforts to build a better relationship between the United States and Haiti. Loune, you are role model who is demonstrating today what can be possible tomorrow and into the future if we commit ourselves to a better brighter future for Haiti. ____________________