In February 2004, as Haiti teetered on the brink of violent anarchy, the Open Society foundation in Haiti—Fondation Connaissance et Liberté (FOKAL)—set out to do something counterintuitive: build a park.
Martissant Park represents the very real efforts of the Haitian people to preserve and celebrate the natural environment of Haiti inside Port-au-Prince’s clustered urban setting. The park is a public space designed to serve not only as a botanical park, but also as a cultural, educational and recreational space.
Covering approximately 42 square acres, the park is home to a strolling memorial for the victims of the January 2010 earthquake; the Katherine Dunham Cultural Center, which will host a resource center for residents of Martissant; a state-of-the-art medicinal garden; and a large botanical garden.
Relapses and maintenance of the park appear to be today’s issues according to comments.
“….And today, for me, it is a personal utopian dream that has begun to come true. Martissant Park is giving new life and new meaning to a place that might easily have been destroyed.
In Haiti, during my lifetime, I have seen things with meaning fall apart. I have seen homes crumble, and buildings burn. Being able to breathe new life into a green area and have it serve a bedraggled, traumatized people and strengthen their dignity and confidence as they face the daily struggle to survive, this is rare anywhere. This is joy.”