Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Earthquake in Haiti

As an Haitian-American, I cannot put in words the feelings of helplessness, sorrow and grief that I am experiencing as I hear and watch on television what is going in Haiti. I imagine that my feelings would be similar even if I were not of Haitian descent. But to see the intense suffering of those whose faces and stories are familiar to me is close to unbearable.
I cannot imagine what it is like to be in a country where all basic services are unavailable: very little medicine, little potable water, no medical support, no government services, no one to bury the dead, few equipment to look for the living, no home to go to, few places to use the bathroom and take a shower, children looking for their parents, parents looking for their kids, etc. I can't imagine a situation where tomorrow does not bring hope but only brings more sorrow.
I have heard and read many news accounts describing the Haitian people as resilient. No human being should ever have to be this resilient.

3 comments:

  1. "No human being should ever have to be that resilient" yet we are, until we find a beter way, that is how WE'LL SURVIVE, we are a hopeful nation, HOPE is what keep us alive.

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  2. For me the emotions were also overwhelming. To see a resilient people who had in the past suffered from so much bad governance called again by a natural catastrophe to pull themselves literally out of the rubble of their former homes and shelters has been almost too much. What the earthquake has brought to the attention of the world was the deplorable conditions that the Haitian people were living under, in the first place. What reporters and news crews are shedding light on is the poor infrastructure and the level of poverty that existed in the country before the quake. What are being described as "shacks" were and are homes for poor families who have no other place to live. No other shelter. Journalists are now showing us the real deplorable conditions of Cite Soleil and the other slums of Haiti. Can we then really be surprised that these areas were and are some of the most violent neighborhoods in Haiti? Such conditions are the result of over fifty years of dictatorship and indifference of the governing elite to the plight of the majority of the people of Haiti. Please don't mistake what I am about to write as a callous and insensitive statement, on the part of a lucky Haitian-American who has somehow, managed to escape such conditions but perhaps the earthquake, for all of its devastating loss of life and destruction, is a blessing in disguise. It will I hope, generate the kind of humanitarian aid and relief which will rebuild Haiti, hopefully from the ground up, starting with the poorest sectors. What will be needed at our end, is vigilance. We, as all concerned citizens and friends of Haiti must make sure that the reconstruction is done in an orderly and manner above reproach so that the traditional exploiters of Haiti don't get their hands on the lion's share of the reconstruction budget. I am hopeful that the Haitian people having survived slavery and the contempt and scorn of both France and the United States for so long can now with the aid of the world begin to rebuild itself from this latest of adversity. Lionel B. Vive Haiti!

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  3. I am heartbroken at the devastation that the earthquake has caused in Haiti. What is most interesting to me is that the news crews from around the world are shedding an unpleasant light on the conditions that existed in Haiti before the quake. What reporters and newspapers are calling "shacks", are in fact homes and shelters that the lucky survivors have managed to hold on to. Reports from Cite Soleil show the conditions that people have been compelled to live under in one of the worst and most violent slums in the world. The quake is revealing the conditions that existed for the majority of the Haitian people. A minimum of fifty years of bad and predatory governance by the ruling elite had brought Haiti to such a point in its history. I am hoping that the good that will come from this quake will be the international effort to rebuild Haiti. A worldwide and concerted effort will begin to resuscitate Haiti from the rubble that currently exists. Haitians from the Diaspora should be vigilant to assure that this reconstruction is done to benefit the people of Haiti and not its traditional predatory elite who will no doubt seek to enrich itself at this outpouring of goodwill from around the world. We must also safeguard the self-determination of the people of Haiti. I am sure that the Haitian people will survive this latest natural calamity. They have proven themselves resilient in the face of slavery and historical contempt and scorn from France and the United States. Vive Haiti! Lionel B.

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