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Four Year Anniversary in Haiti Prompts Memories, Questions

Four Year Anniversary in Haiti Prompts Memories, Questions

Sunday, January 12, 2014 marks the fourth anniversary of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti.  In Haiti, the anniversary was marked by an understated ceremony in Léogâne– the epicenter of the 2010 quake–drawing together religious and governmental leaders for a ceremony of remembrance.  

More than 200,000 people died in the earthquake four years ago, most of Port au Prince was destroyed, and international leaders pledged $14 billion over ten years to rebuild–though that money has been slow to appear.


Four years on, progress is not as fast as anyone would hope.  Nearly 150,000 people remain displaced in-country, living in makeshift refugee camps, according to a story on NPR.  They are registered with various NGOs, but they dwell in tent cities cobbled together on public land, with no water and no electricity.  According to the estimates of the Haitian government, it would take roughly $800 a person to move them to permanent housing, mostly rent subsidies. 

 

Read more here.

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Brian McMichael

I have a different perspective.

I was in Haiti 3 months after the earthquake, in April 2010. There was a lot of obvious damage and destruction, tent cities, etc. If one were to be plunked down in Port-au-Prince then without being told what had happened, one quickly would be able to figure out a powerful earthquake had struck recently.

I returned to Haiti in February, 2012. Nearly all the rubble was cleared, the ruins of the National Palace and Holy Trinity Cathedral were an anomaly. Lots of new construction, mostly completed. A few tent cities left. If one were to be plunked down in Port-au-Prince then without being told where you were or what had happened recently, I’m not sure anyone readily would be able to guess earthquake. Although it was very clear that one was in the Developing World.

I contest the press accounts of a markedly slow pace of the recovery and rebuilding process. In 2 years Haiti had recovered remarkably well. There most certainly has NOT been a big waste of money there. Haiti and ordinary Haitians have benefitted greatly from our help. Haiti continues to need our help, and deservedly so.

Cynthia Katsarelis

I went about 6 months after the earthquake. The quake could have been the previous week, based on how things looked. In 3 and 1/2 weeks, I saw only one excavator and it wasn’t operating. 200 of us tried to manually clear out the rubble from Holy Trinity Cathedral, forming 4 lines to pass the bricks along. We did it for 4 hours and only made a small dent… I returned about a year after the quake. Not a lot of progress. By February 2012 (2 years after), some of the tent cities in Petionville had been cleared, but I really don’t know where the residents ended up.

Bill Clinton says that one of the reasons for the slow rebuild is that it happened in the capital city and half the government workers were killed and 75 percent or more of the buildings and computers and whatnot were destroyed. But progress is frustratingly slow. Grassroots groups and the church seem to be able to have more and quicker impact, but as terrific as they may be, these groups can’t create the infrastructure and economy that Haiti needs.

Meanwhile, there is a lot of “toxic charity” that goes on there. Sending church groups to do builds when it would be better to hire Haitians… Some of the medical charities, no matter how well intentioned, compete with Haitian doctors and hospitals, weakening them instead of building them up. On and on are such examples. The UN presence there to “help?” Well, they brought cholera, and some soldiers steal the Haitians goats and livestock for their own feast, I guess UN rations don’t satiate the hunger of some of these UN blue helmets.

So much more needs to happen there. But it needs to happen in a better way.

Cynthia Katsarelis

I went about 6 months after the earthquake. The quake could have been the previous week, based on how things looked. In 3 and 1/2 weeks, I saw only one excavator and it wasn’t operating. 200 of us tried to manually clear out the rubble from Holy Trinity Cathedral, forming 4 lines to pass the bricks along. We did it for 4 hours and only made a small dent… I returned about a year after the quake. Not a lot of progress. By February 2012 (2 years after), some of the tent cities in Petionville had been cleared, but I really don’t know where the residents ended up.

Bill Clinton says that one of the reasons for the slow rebuild is that it happened in the capital city and half the government workers were killed and 75 percent or more of the buildings and computers and whatnot were destroyed. But progress is frustratingly slow. Grassroots groups and the church seem to be able to have more and quicker impact, but as terrific as they may be, these groups can’t create the infrastructure and economy that Haiti needs.

Meanwhile, there is a lot of “toxic charity” that goes on there. Sending church groups to do builds when it would be better to hire Haitians… Some of the medical charities, no matter how well intentioned, compete with Haitian doctors and hospitals, weakening them instead of building them up. On and on are such examples. The UN presence there to “help?” Well, they brought cholera, and some soldiers steal the Haitians goats and livestock for their own feast, I guess UN rations don’t satiate the hunger of some of these UN blue helmets.

So much more needs to happen there. But it needs to happen in a better way.

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