Inside Clinton's Haiti Trailers: It's Not Pretty

Children inside Saint-Therese de Darbonne School (The Nation)
Children inside Saint-Therese de Darbonne School (The Nation)

The Clinton Foundation's first contribution to the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, of which he's a co-chair, was the rebuilding of a collapsed school at the epicenter of the country's 2010 earthquake.


The Nation reports that while local residents were ecstatic about the promise of "hurricane-proof … emergency shelters that can also serve as schools … to ensure the safety of vulnerable populations in high risk areas during the hurricane season" that would provide Haitian schoolchildren "a decent place to learn" and create local jobs, they've been disappointed.

A visit by reporters to the facilities, which the foundation promised would be equipped with power generators, restrooms, water and sanitary storage, revealed them to "consist of twenty trailers beset by problems, from mold to sweltering heat to shoddy construction. "

Even worse, according to the Nation, the trailers were manufactured by a company that's currently being sued in the United States for providing the FEMA with formaldehyde-laced trailers in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. And it seems that these structures have similar issues: Air samples from the sixth grade found troubling levels of formaldehyde in one, and mold accumulating in the windows of others. Kids told reporters that they get headaches when they spend too long inside them.

In the middle of June, the Nation found that two of the four schools where the Clinton Foundation classrooms were installed had let out early for the summer because trailer temperatures frequently exceeded 100 degrees, and one had yet to open for lack of water and sanitation facilities.

There's little doubt that the Clinton Foundation built these trailers with the absolute best intentions, and it should be applauded for doing so. But particularly when shortcomings and mistakes mean threats to children's health, good intentions aren't enough. We hope the former president takes the lead to correct the reported problems with the trailers with the same sense of urgency and enthusiasm that was behind their construction in the first place.  

Read more at The Nation.

In other news: VIDEO: Colbert on Bachman's Love for Slavery References.