Five months ago, I left Haiti, after 6 months of rediculousity. Of course, I know that is not a word, but my word for Haiti, the entire time I was there was "rediculous." Because it was. Something new happened in Haiti every day. And I loved it... earthquakes, rains, cholera, hurricanes, political violence, corruption, ex-dictators returning to the country. We had it all. And had to adjust accordingly.
So it was no wonder that the media criticised all the UN agencies and NGOs here for being slow (as discussed by a fellow blogger here and here and many other places on his blog). How can you be quick when the situation changes every week, sometimes every day???
Well, as I said, 5 months ago I left Haiti. And when I left, it was still a mess. Cholera was rampant, we were coming into what was promised to be a banner of a hurricane season, there was no prime minister, and no one knew what would happen with MINUSTAH (UN peacekeeping service here), kidnappings were increasing.
But coming back now, I am impressed. I love walking / driving around the town to see all the changes. Because there are many. There is a fountain at Place St. Pierre (no water of course), and there is no longer a camp in the park (which also begs the question of what happened to all those people...). More businesses are open, construction is happening EVERYWHERE! But it seems to be organised construction! Not just people tearing at old buildings, or digging holes. Things are going up! Even the trees seem more bushy! Electricity is more stable; last night I was up the mountain and you could actually see the whole of Port-au-Prince valley's lights!
And let me get started about the streets! All the potholes I remember have been filled up and smoothed over, not just with dirt, but with actual asphalt too! Many of the roads are wider now too! Its actually a pleasure to drive (not that the driving rules have changed at all). But even traffic seems much less now!
As we are full and into the Christmas season now, there are Christmas lights hanging and trees in certain shops. I came home this evening to see our guards had decorated (including a horribly annoying Christmas song that is playing an unrecognisable tune in unrecognisable, squeaky notes...but hey, they tried).
Reading through the latest OCHA SitRep, the situation is less urgent and stressed (although there are still lots of people in tents who are threatened to be evicted), the cholera epidemic is calming down into a nice disease that will resurge every rainy season, there were no hurricanes this last season (although there were monsoonal rains), and hey, there is even excess food around (not that food prices reflect that)!
Of course, there is still lots of work to be done. Lots and lots, which is reflected in the amount of work I have to do. But these last 5 months were the most stable that Haiti has had in the last 2 years. And its amazing the difference a little stability can make. In some cases, it is unrecognisable.