I’ve been paying close attention the past few days to how the media is covering the six-month anniversary of the Haiti earthquake. While most reports highlight a painfully slow process, bottlenecks, and frustrations by key stakeholders, other reports capture the strength of the Haitian community in meeting the almost impossible daily challenges. Both are accurate portrayals of Haiti.
Haiti is no doubt one of the most challenging places to work, and the need for better schools and improved education is perhaps greater in Haiti than in most other developing countries. That’s why buildOn is committed to scaling up our work there immediately.
While the challenges are significant, progress and success are never out of reach. buildOn just completed a three-classroom school in the remote fishing village of Flammand, where community members contributed more than 1,500 volunteer work days. buildOn opened a door of opournity and the men and women of Flammand walked through it with discipline and determination. They did it for their children, for their future.
As I personally reflect on Haiti six months after the quake, I think back to the following journal entree that I made after visiting in June:
June 20th, 2010:
Deep, fresh wounds are now left to mend on top of old Haitian scars. The healing process of this recent catastrophe will take decades even if the combined efforts of the Haitian Government, the international community, and the Haitian people are successful. This is not a pessimist’s viewpoint. It is reality.
At 4:53 p.m. on January 12th Haiti changed forever. The changes are more than just structural–thousands of flattened buildings with cement slab roofs sitting atop rubble as if they were melting under the hot Caribbean sun. The changes run much deeper than the harsh lessons of human suffering taught to us by an estimated 230,000 dead, 300,000 wounded, and 1 million people homeless. The changes are also psychological, economically crippling, and have led to a complex ripple effect of uncertainty, fear, and despair from Haiti’s major cities to its remote and isolated provincial communities. These changes will not reverse themselves quickly, but will dissolve gradually with the help of the lime covered backs and the calloused hands of the Haitian men and women.
One thing that I am convinced will remain in Haiti is the resiliency of its people. I have witnessed some of the worst that nature has to offer mankind, and I have seen the Haitians respond with dignity, humanity, and courage. More than the government or the international community, the citizens of Haiti are the real heroes of the relief effort.