Mayor of Port-au-Prince district to speak at Bates

Wilson Louis, mayor of Cité Soleil, a district of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, speaks on “Cité Soleil and the Haitian Nation: Moving Forward” in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, in the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall at Bates College, 75 Russell St.

Sponsored by the Multicultural Affairs office and the Multifaith Chaplaincy, the lecture is open to the public at no cost. For more information please call 207-786-8376.

Louis will speak about the current relief efforts and needs faced by Cité Soleil, one of the poorest Haitian communities devastated by the quake. Louis, formerly a teacher, is Cité Soleil’s first mayor. Prior to his election, in 2006, Cité Soleil was treated as a constituent part of Port-au-Prince.

Through Louis’ leadership, Cité Soleil has become a distinct political entity within the capital, because of both its size and its urgent community needs. In addition to the recent devastation in Haiti, Cité Soleil has faced gang violence, lack of job opportunities, a low literacy rate and a high incidence of HIV/AIDS.

Most of Cité Soleil’s estimated 500,000 residents live in extreme poverty, and the area was heavily affected by the January quake. Cité Soleil did not receive significant food aid until nearly two weeks after the earthquake, and the area remains in desperate need of help, according to World Emergency Relief.

In the period following the quake, Louis told the Los Angeles Times, residents of Cité Soleil “have not received any assistance. No food, no medical help. Poor people have dignity and they should be treated with dignity.”

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