Remembering Haiti

It has been two years since the earthquake in Haiti and nearly a year and half since I visited.

But my own memories of the people I met and the overwhelming sense of both their loss and hope continue to loom large in my mind.

The idea of rebuilding a country is an overwhelming thought and too frequently I avoid it.  But in doing so, I risk dismissing an entire country as forever tragic – a description that I am confident not a single Haitian would agree with.  Though I am not often this solemn, today – the second anniversary of the earthquake – calls for reflection on what a nation lost as well as continued hope for what she can build.  If you haven’t recently, please consider donating to an organization doing good work in Haiti.  One that I am close to, Partners in Health, is linked to the photo on the top-right of the home screen.

I travelled to Haiti to help with the painful process of closing down a field hospital that was serving people who were injured in their homes, were uprooted from their neighborhoods, and had lost dozens of their friends and family.  Six months after the earthquake, the time had come to close some of the make-shift facilities that were set up to provide emergency care.  And while most of the injuries that the people suffered were no longer raw, their grief was only tenuously masked by the need to eat, take care of children, look for work, and think about rebuilding.

(photo credit: unnamed)

I hesitate to paint a picture that is only bleak.  Amidst loss, and hunger, and struggle there was also a beauty pageant, dominos, singing, and more.  Several of the families that were living in tents are now living in houses.  The external fixators (like the one pictured above) have been taken out and many have shed their crutches.  When I left, markets were starting to reopen – and, no doubt, many are now bustling.  Nevertheless, there is much, much more work to be done.

International aid, development, and rebuilding are contentious, hard, and frustrating.  But at a minimum, we owe it to each other to at least think about these topics and how (or if) we can do them better.

(photo credit: Charlie Draznin)


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