Six months after the devastating earthquake that ravaged the poorest country in the western hemisphere, Progress is slow. Before the earthquake struck, it was a challenge everyday for most Haitians to find work, find food, find medical attention, and find hope. Those everyday challenges have only been multiplied greatly since that catastrophic day.
Nearly all Haitians I spoke with before the quake, made it clear that in their need for help, they were not looking for a handout. They only needed help to get up and on their feet, a chance to create opportunity. Consistently, I found these good people were committed to receiving help and then becoming helpers. There was a constant belief that they could turn things around. If belief was enough, in the hands of these believers, things would turn around quickly for this small nation.
But belief is not enough and the challenges are many. Overcoming the lack of industry, the lack of education, the lack of good soil, the lack of trees, the impact of settled traditions, the lack of leadership, the elements of corruption, the lack of financial resources, the absence of structure, and the unplanned affect weather alone has caused, can at times make Haiti’s battles seem overwhelming. Yet they are a resilient people who have learned to deal with everything they have faced.
Today, tent cities abound. People are having to adapt to these temporary structures and close communities. Great concerns about health issues needfully exist as outbreaks of malaria and diarrheal disease rise and fall. You can only imagine the setting – a camp that has just experienced a heavy rainfall. There is no place for the water to go and the walking areas and “streets” are not paved or graveled so they all become a blanket of mud. Water leaks in the tents and runs into the flooring of many. Mud is tracked everywhere and when the rains subside, the sun comes out, and things begin to dry, there is a layer of dry dirt on just about everything. These circumstances are currently the best available for thousands upon thousands of Haitians, young and old. The quake spared noone in Haiti.
However, rebuilding has begun. Throughout the destructed areas, people, organizations, and the government are beginning to rebuild. First there is the removal of the massive amounts of rubble, then a temporary structure, and then the new construction. Money flows slowly into Haiti, both to and through the government, as uncertainty about upcoming elections remain and scrutiny is maintained due to fears of corruption. The past haunts Haiti. Some very unscrupulous leaders in the past squandered and stole millions of aid money and lined their own pockets, all while leaving the Haitian people in their misery. Noone wants to see that happen again and as the money flows toward meaningful effort, the long-sought and arduous journey of rebuilding takes place.
Clean the World joins the many good organizations that are helping Haiti recover. The needs are many and no single organization has the ability to address every need. But working together, alongside the Haitian people, we bring hope, help, and hands. The effort will take patience and consistent work. We have moved beyond the initial crisis and have settled into a daily grind of steady labor.
You can help!! You can make a difference in Haiti. First, by not forgetting. Remember the massive dimensions of the destruction that hit Haiti. Second, find a good organization and give money to help that organization have the resources needed. Third, volunteer. Make yourself available to organizations who are helping Haiti. You can give more than money. You could even go to Haiti to help. Fourth, pray. Remember the good people of Haiti in your prayers, especially the children. So many are parentless, homeless, orphaned, injured, and sick.
Haiti is a nation of over 9 million people nestled among Caribbean islands just 600 miles from Florida. They are the poorest country in the western hemisphere. The poorest country was made poorer by the quake. It would be a shame to forget them if they were on the other side of the planet. Even less acceptable to forget them when they are at our back door.
Please remember the people of Haiti!!!!