Round Up Ready – Haiti Edition

Today marks 3 years since Haiti was devastated by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that killed thousands, devastated infrastructure and displaced millions, a sad anniversary which has not drawn much attention, despite the fact that one out of every two Americans donated money to relief efforts. Shortly after the earthquake, the people of Haiti were further devastated by an unprecedented outbreak of cholera (Click here for more on cholera outbreaks in Africa). Since the initial outbreak, cholera has struck 1 out of every 16 Haitians — nearly 640,000 people, and killed 8,000. To add insult to injury, there hadn’t been a reported case of cholera in Haiti for over 100 years prior to the earthquake, and the evidence overwhelmingly indicates that it was introduced by the UN Forces that were on hand to aid in disaster relief efforts


Haiti in the wake of the earthquake, Source

Haiti’s Long Road to recovery has been progressing slowly (more than 350, 000 people are still living in tents), and the promise to “Build Haiti back, better” remains so far unanswered. Unfortunately, the slow moving pace of Haiti, beautifully captured in the This American Life episode Island Time, has frustrated government agencies, such as the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). CIDA is concerned with slow progress of development, which it attributes to Haiti’s weak governing institutions and corruption, and as such funding for new projects would be “on ice“. However, in his new book The Big Truck That Went By: How The World Came To Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster, Jonathan M. Katz breaks down how foreign aid money was spent, and reveals that the majority of the funds were not available to the Haitian government nor its general population, a sentiment echoed in the recent New York Times article, Rebuilding in Haiti Lags After Billions in Post-Quake Aid.

Below are a sampling of links from around the web that deal with the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake and disaster response.

And on a quasi-related note to that last link, in 2008 Haiti was struck by a series of hurricanes and storms in a very short time. As a result of the torrential rain, and years of deforestation, there were severe mudslides in much of the country. I had the opportunity to volunteer with Hands On Disaster Relief(now All Hands Volunteers), and help dig mud out of peoples homes and try and restore a sense of normalcy by getting a school cleared out and repainted. It was a humbling and inspiring experience, that I often feel guilty about having enjoyed so much. Leading up to my trip I was frequently asked, why wouldn’t I just write a cheque in the amount of my airfare to the organization, rather than going to Haiti myself. It was a fair question, one that I had grappled with for some time. While there is no doubt that monetary donations are crucial, the volunteer experience and the ‘global village’ it creates is a unique and important aspect. While on the ground in Haiti I was frequently asked by kids where I came from, and they were amazed to learn that I would travel from Canada to Haiti just to help them out and shovel mud. The feelings that both the locals and  myself got from those interactions is not something that could have been captured with a cheque. On the next page are a few photos from my time in Haiti.

Outlook from the roof

The view from the roof in Gonaïves, reveals some of the extent of the damage

Heading out to morning jobs

Groups of volunteers heading out in the morning to various ‘job sites’ around the city

Heading to a dig site

Transportation to and from the job sites was via Tap-Tap

dig site

A typical job site, this person’s house was covered in 6 feet of mud

Mud room

The mudroom at the end of a day, very much earning its name

Reading at Ebenezer Camp

An afternoon trip to the Ebenezer Housing Camp to play games and read with the displaced persons living in this tent city

Beautiful beach

With all the destruction and poverty, it can be easy to forget the Haiti is a beautiful tropical island


2 thoughts on “Round Up Ready – Haiti Edition

  1. Pingback: The Haiti Series Launch Exhibit – Eventbrite « Habari Gani, America!

  2. Pingback: Gentle Breezes, Tree Sneezes, and Tornadoes | On a Quasi-Related Note

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