Haiti still needs us

A year ago when Haiti was hit by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, the global community united to help Haiti. Millions of people donated without hesitation to numerous charities to help Haiti deal with this unforeseen natural disaster.

We all saw the telethons with even more money being collected and we continued to give more.

In March of 2010, United Nations Members and international partners pledged more than $5 billion over the next 18 months to help Haiti recover.

The earthquake left a quarter of a million people dead and over a million people homeless. It was a horrendous setback for Haiti, who has seen more than enough suffering.

I knew that the rebuilding of Haiti would take more than one year; but, I also knew that eventually people who gave generously would ask, “Where has the money gone?”
Despite the billions of dollars that were pledged, today there is still poor sanitation, malnutrition, limited clean drinking water, no sewage system and millions of people still living in crowded tent communities.

This led to cholera outbreaks, which claimed over 1500 lives and plagued many more.
Some ask how Haiti could have millions of dollars at its disposal, but lack clean water and sanitation.

Well, only 63.6 percent of the money pledged to Haiti has been disbursed, according to the office of the U.N special envoy for Haiti.

Some countries have reneged on their promises, sending less than 10 percent of what they initially pledged.

Many contribute the lack of follow-through by these countries to the lack of Haitian government. With the elections postponed, there is no clear date when a new government will take effect.

This means that these pledges will not turn into cash any time soon. But what about the money from the charities?

Many of the charities have set aside almost 70 percent of the donations for the “reconstruction period.”

However, many people were under the assumption that the money they sent was being used to save lives immediately.
Where does this leave the people of Haiti while the logistics and politics are being worked out?

In a standstill.

I am of Haitian descent and with the power of technology was able to Skype one of my many family members living in the tent communities in Port Au Prince, Haiti.

I was able to reach my cousin Juriste Jean-Baptiste which happens to be the same age as me.

“It’s frustrating because there is little evidence that progress has been made,” he said.

“It’s worse, instead of better with water and food becoming less reliable, robbery and rapes.

Haiti was also recently hit with another blow by the return of Jean Claude Duvalier’s a dictator whose family dictatorship lasted 25 years and ushered in one of the darkest periods in Haiti’s history.

The former Haitian ruler Jean Claude Duvalier once said, “It is the destiny of the people of Haiti to suffer.”

His return has caused a chain reaction of fear all over Haiti.

Haiti is no stranger to tragedy’s and a series of unfortunate events that plagued the country for 207 years.

The Haitian spirit cannot be killed, despite being labeled the poorest country in the western hemisphere. The culture is still very rich.

We are very resilient people and our pride can’t be broken.

At times like these I am reminded of an old creole saying my grandmother always told me, “Piti, piti, wazo fe nich li.”

It means little by little the bird builds its nest again. It may take several years but Haiti will rise again.