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Life in Haiti after the earthquake:What I saw

By  | 14 October 2010 at 03:01 | 347 views

Commentary

It is estimated that more than 250,000 people lost their lives in the Caribbean country of Haiti, January, 2010. Still, far more were injured in what is considered to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest tragedy in the history of Haiti.

In the wake of the earthquake which seriously devastated much of that country and, after all the propaganda of assistance from the United Nations and other developed nations, the country is still slowly and painfully recovering from its horrendous pain.

All that is left in this disaster torn nation of Haiti now seems to be smiles and hopes. But this resembles a façade because behind the white teeth and bright faces are memories that are disturbing to the soul and inner spirit and these will forever linger in the hearts and minds of Haitians. Months after January 12,2010, the experience of that day–the terror and the losses–remain vivid and present in the minds of all Haitians who survived the quake.

As I walked through the crowded, ditch-infested streets of Port-au-Prince, one cannot help noticing the enormous damage the earthquake left in its trail. The devastation looks fresh even ten months after the earthquake had occurred.

There are still lot of cracks in the ground and it looked and felt like the earth had literally been ripped open. I’ve been to lots of third-world countries before and was born and raised in one, but I’ve never seen a place in such a bad condition. You could definitely tell they need help and they certainly need it now.

Sprawling camps with make shift shelters all around the city symbolising extreme squalor - the kind that not even the homeless will desire. Oh yes! It is the kind that a mixture of plastic and tarpauline are used as coverings for make shift homes. Worst of all, a typical make shift home of about 20 square feet is inhabited by between 4–7 adults and children. And in most cases, the distance between one camp and the next is about less than a mile. The reality is that even the slightest wind and rain is enough to wipe away these temporary shelters as was evident when hurricane- type rain fell while I was there.

The author, Christian Sesay, helping the disabled in Haiti.

Living in such an appalling environment is usually accompanied by fears and suspicions that are logical. These fears were confirmed when I entered some of the camps. Sanitation was almost non-existent; electricity is only tasted in their dreams. Food and water are treasures that hardly come by and in the absence of all or most of the basics of life, the possibility of turning to drugs, banditry, sexual promiscuity and other undesirable behaviors in life becomes factual in these camps. These are real signs that remind average Haitians of the devastation that the earthquake unleashed on the nation.

Smiles... in the midst of adversity.

The huge question I asked myself was, where are all the relief efforts? What happened to all the money that was collected in the name of Haiti? Although, relief efforts continue to go into Haiti, yet one of the problems is that relief aid in the mountains outside of Port-au-Prince is spotty at best. United Nations, Oxfam, and Red Cross to name a few continue to spend more on logistics for their staff than the needy. However, the people of Haiti are resilient. Although there has been loss of life and property, the people are moving on with life with whatever little they have.

Throughout my visit, I experienced the warmth of the poor, learned about their social and economic realities, and I was moved by their simple lifestyles. I will never forget their faces, their love, or their gratitude; and if you are not careful, the children will steal your heart forever! Without a doubt, I returned home more grateful than ever for America … for the things I usually take for granted … and for the life changing adventure I had because Sierra Care heard and answered Haiti’s plea for help.

May the soul of the departed in Haiti rest in perfect peace. God bless you Haiti and may you soar like the rising Phoenix.

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