By Skyler Badenoch, Director of Development – East Coast
There are many things that I will remember about the days in Haiti immediately after the earthquake. I can close my eyes and still taste the dust. I can recall the smells, visualize the images, and feel the same sorrow I felt for the country and the families who lost so much. I can hear the sound of the aftershocks that woke me as I slept ear to earth with the buildOn Haiti staff and thousands of earthquake survivors in a quickly growing tent city. It has been one year.
The immediate efforts of the international community to respond to the crisis in Haiti saved lives, and eased the suffering of hundreds of thousands of victims. There is no debating this. The response I saw from Haitians themselves was greater and much more heroic. This is what I will remember most.
When I asked my close friend and buildOn colleague, Clerge Garry, how he reflects on our time establishing a health clinic for earthquake victims near the epicenter in Carrefour he said, “I’ll remember the feeling that I had knowing that I was helping my country. As Haitians, we were proud to be able aide our countrymen. It was the most important thing that we’ve done in our lives, and it makes me believe that we as Haitians can work together to make our country a better place.”
There are many people besides Clerge who believe that Haiti can be a better place. The truth is that even despite the earthquake, the cholera outbreak, tropical storms, and the political instability that overwhelmed the country in 2010, there is potential for Haiti to recover and develop. However, that potential is not something that will be unlocked in one year, or in five years. It will take decades of a disciplined and coordinated effort to gradually rebuild what has been destroyed.
As an organization, buildOn is committed to helping rebuild Haiti. Just as in the past, we will provide Haitians with the opportunity to improve education for themselves and their children. We will focus our work in rural and isolated communities in the southern region because this decentralized approach to development is one of the most important components of reconstruction. Improved education in rural Haiti is crucial for the development of the country.
Through our work, buildOn will stand in solidarity with the Haitian men and woman who sang out in the streets in the hours after the earthquake, “Nou pap jamblie jou sa, nou pap jamblie lè ca.” We will never forget this day. We will never forget this hour.