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August 6, 2010
Blogging From a Refugee Camp

You know about business blogs, an online means of corporate public relations. But how about a refugee blog, an online means of calling attention, say, to conditions in the refugee camps after Haiti's January earthquake?


Carine Exantus is living in one of those camps and has started her own blog about the experience. It's translated by a volunteer into English and posted on the Conversations for a Better World Web site. The site is sponsored by the Media and Communications Branch of  UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. 


What a terrific service -- giving voice to people living in wretchedness, as though the world wants to hear from them, which it does. "Diary of a Survivor in Haiti" is the title of Exantus' blog. We've discovered her thanks to Beverly Bell, an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, who writes on The Huffington Post about "'You Need to Hear From the People:' Communicating from Haiti's Refugee Camps."


Exantus, 22, was a communications student at the University of Haiti on Jan. 12 when the earthquake hit. 

"Observing the numerous losses -- in human life and in material things -- I was worried more and more about my family," is Exantus' posted account of how it began. "My legs felt dead. I couldn’t even speak yet. I was stretched out on the ground in the hope of clearing my head. But hearing the sobs of wounded people and of family members of the victims, my anguish grew."

Not only is it possible to blog from a refugee camp. Community radio stations soon will be broadcasting from, and to, them, Bell reports. Almost two million of Haiti's nine million people are currently homeless or displaced, most of them in camps. 

These radio stations for displaced people are being coordinated by the Society for Social Mobilization and Communication (SAKS) and are being helped by UNESCO, the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, and International Media Support. The Haitian Women's Community Radio Network (REFRAKA) is preparing daily reports that will reach about 30 such community radio stations. 

May Carine Exantus' blog and the refugee radio stations flourish. They're a form of public relations in settings -- refugee camps --  from which you wouldn't expect to hear. When earth's displaced peoples find their voices, humanity truly becomes whole. 

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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