12 January 2012

Commémoration de Deux Années - un réponse

Two years ago today, a cataclysmic earthquake struck Haiti.
And today, the media is overwhelmed with articles about what has and has not been done since the earthquake struck. 
In response to the BBC's article entitled, "Haiti's tent cities signal long road to quake recovery" this is what I have to say.

Cemetary in the rural mountains outside of PaP. 
It dramatically increased in size post-earthquake.

As an aid worker based in Port-au-Prince, I have seen many of the disparities and struggles of the Haitian people over the last 2 years.

You are correct - there are still many people living in camps, and much work still needs to be done. There is still a massive lack of access to good water and sanitation, a problem in a time of cholera, unemployment is still rampant throughout the nation, stable homes are difficult to find.

But much has changed. Many people forget that 2010 was a difficult year for Haiti - more than just the earthquake at the beginning of the year. The rest of the year included a cholera epidemic, a hurricane, political violence, followed by difficulties in creating a functioning government.

Aid work does not happen overnight, particularly in a complex context such as this. Prior to the earthquake, Haiti was struggling to get to its feet. If the international community was looking to get Haiti back to its status quo prior to the earthquake, you might be able to see all the work that has been done in the last 2 years.

But the international community chose to 'Build Haiti Back Better.' This takes time; this takes money; this takes stability. Two years is not enough time to see this change; money promised has not been disbursed; 2010 was not even close to being stable.

I was not in Haiti for a few months towards the end of 2011. When I left, cholera was still a major concern, donors were taking their time in approving projects and delivering money, and Haiti still did not have a Prime Minister.

When I returned, however, I found a different Haiti. Construction is happening everywhere; new businesses are being developed; the government is proving to be stable, although, as with any government, there are still many concerns. Initiatives are in place to assist those living in camps to move to more permanent homes. Haiti even decorated for Christmas this year!

One cannot look at what has NOT been completed without looking at what has, with the eye that development takes time. The US did not become what it is today in 2 years - no, it took hundreds of years! Why do we expect change in Haiti to take place in a minutia of the time?

Haitians are very impassioned individuals; they are dedicated to their country and to building it back better, as is much of the international community. Instead of saying alarmist statements, such as walking into camps to see a man pointing a gun at another man's head, why can we not focus on the fact that those living in the camps are committed to moving their lives forward, to finding whatever work they can to earn enough to send their children to school.

Change is happening in Haiti. President Martelly was correct in saying that yes, we want to move fast, but we also want to do it right. Please do not expect quality to happen overnight.

For those that are interested, I enjoyed reading these articles below.  
The Guardian -
The Miami Herald -

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/01/09/2581629/many-question-whether-haiti-quake.html#storylink=cpy


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