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Travesty in Haiti: A true account of Christian missions, orphanages, fraud, food aid and drug trafficking Paperback – July 5, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Timothy T Schwartz earned a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Florida and then went to live and work in Haiti for six years. His research included 15 months living with impoverished Haitians in the thatch-roofed huts of a remote fishing hamlet and three years residing in agricultural settlements and villages. He worked as a consultant for international aid agencies, including the German foreign ministry (GTZ), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), French ID (Initiative Developpment), and CARE International, the world’s largest international charity. Since leaving Haiti he has been living in the neighboring Dominican Republic where he works as an international consultant specializing in Haitian-Dominican relations and coordinates social impact assessments for private companies. His studies have been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Curtis Wilgus Foundation and the University of Florida College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Recent publications include the Haiti entry for an encyclopedia of world cultures, Countries and Their Cultures (Macmillan Reference USA: Yale University), an article in the refereed Journal for Research in Economic Anthropology entitled Pronatalism and the Economic Utility of Children in Jean Rabel, Haiti, and an article published in the Caribbean’s oldest and most prestigious journal, New West Indian Guide, entitled Subsistence Songs: Haitian 'téat' performances, gendered capital and livelihood strategies in Jean Makout, Haiti.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (July 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419698036
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419698033
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #230,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By TropicalDoc on March 30, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I must admit that I expected not to like this book. I felt compelled to read it. I expected a cynical and arrogant review of Christian missions. I expected a self-righteous, omniscient review of well-meaning aid activities in Haiti. What I read was a thoughtful, honest and fair review of all subjects touched upon. I have worked in Haiti over the past 25 years and I have seen a lot of good things happen but more frequently have witnessed waste, graft and failure. The author doesn't generalize beyond his experiences. He does accurately depict events in an interesting and entertaining matter.

It seems so many books written about Haiti reek of personal agenda. Travesty in Haiti is a definite exception. I will certainly recommend this book to others!!! Well done!!!!
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Format: Paperback
This is a truly outstanding book, not in the least because of the humility of the author, Dr. Schwartz, as he portrays his own naive wading through the morass of confluent shadows of poverty, culture, oppression, aid and his search for meaning over a 10 year period of work in Haiti. The book raises the consciousness of the reader even as the author and protagonist of the book's consciousness is being raised.

This book is significantly more scholarly and interesting than Dead Aid, by Dambisa Moyo which received a huge amount of attention. Both books make the point that aid as it is currently constructed is ineffective. But while Moyo's book is far less honest and nuanced about the organizations she has worked with--like the World Bank and Goldmann Sachs, Schwartz is critical of himself, people he considered friends and organizations he has worked for, such as CARE and USAID.

Pointing out that aid is dead is hardly interesting...naming names of who is responsible for not only the dead aid but the stream of humanity left dead in the wake of at best misguided aid, more accurately, purposefully malignant projects, is revolutionary. Read this book.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By sarah on May 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
I've worked in Haiti for over a decade, and although I was aware of fundamental problems with international food, medical and other aid, I had no idea the problems were as comprehensive (or as widely acknowledged by people in the field). The book's major contribution is showing that the organizations involved generally know they are at best not fulfilling their stated mission, and are more often actually causing harm. They are just addicted to the money that comes from a dysfunctional system, and too cynical to think there's a better way.

The book is also entertaining, and a quick read. It is depressing, but there are antidotes out there- examples where organizations manage to actually do good work. I'd suggest Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains, anything written by Paul Farmer, and Margaret Trost's "On That Day Everybody Ate."
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Paul Gahlinger, MD, PhD on April 23, 2010
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This book is by far the most insightful, educating, and rewarding work on Haiti -- and indeed on the entire field of overseas charitable operations. Anyone interested in Haiti or in charities should read it.

Despite the important of his work, this book appears to me to have been self-published and in need of copy-editing. A reputable publisher should pick it up and give it the distribution it deserves -- not only for the public but for universities.

I bought this because I am leaving for a medical mission to Haiti and want to know more about the country besides history. To my surprise, my own academic experience was somewhat similar to Dr. Schwarz, although he succeeded where I failed. In the early '80s, I got a PhD in anthropology. My original dissertation topic was the effects of tourism in the British Virgin Islands. When I presented my initial reports on prostitution and public health problems, my funding rapidly dried up and I was discouraged from continuing. I completed the PhD on another topic. As a UC-Berkeley graduate with extensive experience overseas, I was invited to take a Post-doc fellowship at Harvard on international aid. I put together a prospectus to examine the accountability of international charities. Somehow, the invitation disappeared. I became very disillusioned and ended up going to medical school instead -- eventually building my own operation, MediCruiser, with transparency and real accountability. Dr. Schwarz stuck it out and has the courage to tell the truth. I hope he continues!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kate V. Somerville on June 16, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the most revealing book I have read in ages. I tend to follow the think-globally-act-locally model, and this author has revealed so many of the grant scams and political spoilers of progress that go on in Haiti, Anytown, USA and elsewhere. The author's relentless observations and honesty beg for open dialogue at home. The irony that his efforts made such little impact, but he did reveal how-it-really-is, not only in Haiti, but pockets everywhere. I agree, a major publisher really should pick this up. It is an important book, and I applaud his bravery for staying in the belly of the beast for so long. I wish it were required reading for students. It begs so much discussion. I love Haiti and wish it well.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By silverquill on July 2, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a rambling polemic that doesn't know if it wants to be an adventure novel or a serious piece of research, tumbling the reader through a disorganized narrative with confusing time-lines and references, leaving in doubt what is real and what is "creative license." From a young cigar-smoking, hard drinking adventurer in the hinterlands of Haiti to international authority on national development may be a bit of a leap for some of us. At least that is the conflicted image, right or wrong, that Schwartz presents.

Since this is a review based on the Kindle edition, one star is knocked off the top for poor formatting (font is too small, graphics don't appear at all), and for too many typographical errors, which may or may not be due to poor format conversion.

It was the subtitle of this book that hooked me, because I worked for some of the agencies vilified. For four years I provided health care to the poorest of the poor in Haiti, albeit in a totally different part of the country. (Geographical references are hard to pin down, with some real and some apparently fictitious names used). My time in Haiti also predated the author's experience bey several years, having endured the ouster of the Duvalier regime during my tenure. The project I was most heavily involved with was a joint venture with a large NGO. I was recruited to fulfill a vacancy in this ongoing venture, and I soon saw that it wasn't a very well conceived project. Nonetheless, in my little corner of the world, I saw none of the abuses which Schwartz alleges.

That said, I was aware of the larger picture to some extent, and what has unfolded in the years since, as recounted in this expose, does not surprise me, as heartbreaking as it is.
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