Written by Paul I. Adujie
Searing images have been burned into our collective memories from the earthquake calamities and catastrophes which befell Haiti on January 12, 2010. Ten months has since passed, the passage of time has not reduced the grief and desperation on ground in Haiti.
Only recently, 5 persons in the many tent camps Haiti were killed by rainstorms, rainstorms which also rendered 210 tents useless. Thankfully and luckily, the hurricane season this year has been less severe and this has meant some sorts of respite for the already beleaguered nation and people of Haiti.
The television cameras are long gone and public sympathy has elapsed. Complacency have seemingly set in. The plights and predicaments of our people worldwide is exemplified by the current precarious limbo in which, and to which Haitians have been seemingly consigned. The human condition of our people remain, are best described by recent public statements by former American Secretary of State Colin Powell, a retired US Army General, when he stated that "So many rocks in our sack, and so, we have trouble carrying it"
Haiti, in the earthquake aftermath, is a toxic mix of poverty, adversities, calamities, catastrophes, tragedies which is multiplied by a factor 2 million people. Two million people who are currently homeless and remain in direst of straits. These two million Haitians are part of the approximately 2 billion continental Africans and peoples of African descent on earth, whose plights and predicaments are not much different. Man made disasters and Acts of God tragedies conspire and combine to make our lives toughest than any other groups people in the world. Our people remain beset by too many challenges piled on, exacerbated by newer ones.
Where are the loud and ostentatious pledges and promises of relief and reconstructions or where is divine interventions from the heavens? How does anyone reassure 2 million Haitians who are homeless for almost a whole year now? This, even after the world made a great show on television, insisting to frazzled Haitians that help was on the way? Great expectations are now forlorn? What is it about geopolitics and or human psyche in which Foreign Aid is not steered to where the need is greatest? Where is Bill Clinton?
Haiti, though a poor nation, she does have a population of the most courageous people on the face of the earth! Haitians have faced and confronted sundry adversities and have always tethered through, weathering the storms, almost with equanimity. It is important to make this point and mention the tenacity of the people of Haiti, even in the midst of the most severe earthquake in human memory. Haitians, despite the extraordinary toll in terms of human lives lost, are managing to carry on, as close to a semblance of normalcy as possible.
It is sadly the case that tents wearing thin from wear and tear , rain, sun and other natural from the elements. Haitian people have become understandably weary. This was illustrated recently by The New York Times feature article, in which so many Haitians were crying out for help in letters to the entire world which described the very pathetic and abject human conditions which persist in Haiti, over ten months since the earthquake in January.
Planners had hoped by now that 130,000 tent dwellers would have been resettled, but so far, after almost a whole year since the earthquake, only 10% resettlement have been achieved .The fragile and flimsy temporary accommodations are disintegrating. Tarpaulin tents are fraying under the elements, formerly white tents now grey, and torn, exposing two million inhabitants to more sufferings and hardships
There is still no water, no electricity available to all regularly and on steady, or reliable basis, there are continuing concerns for disease outbreaks of epidemic proportions, such as cholera and other diseases which are exacerbated by unsanitary conditions. The congested tents camps environment in which Haitians displaced by the earthquake now live, is said to be suffused and reek with raw sewage and rain water flowing in the camp being a common sight
It is really sad that 2 million Haitian are still homeless more than 10 months after earthquake which killed 230,ooo people. It is so disconcerting that our microwave culture with short attention span, have forgotten or at least, have allowed the plights and predicaments of Haitians, victims of the worst earthquake, are abandoned and their abject conditions have receded to the back burner and recesses of our consciousness.
We spend two trillion dollars tangling with real and imagined enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq, and yet, we do not have the will and courage to provide basic human needs to the two million persons still homeless in the aftermath of the disastrous earthquake in Haiti?
It will be recalled that in the aftermath of the cataclysmic earthquake in January, there were almost a sense of eagerness by and between nations to openly compete and be seen as the largest donor and the best helper of the hapless people and nation of Haiti, but, almost a year has passed and only three nations, namely, Sweden, Norway and Brazil, have followed through and keep their promised and delivered on the monies pledged to Haiti relief and reconstruction efforts.
Almost a year after the earthquake almost unhinged Haiti and thrust upon her, extreme and extraordinarily dire circumstances, transitional shelters remains how two million Haitians live and, these transitional housing are even grossly inadequate, unavailable, while the existing ones are deteriorating and are now in tattered conditions.
The reconstructions which were much heralded, has not come to be or come to pass. Land ownership uncertainties remains a major problem, an obstacle and impediment to redevelopment. AID organizations have publicly stated that they wont put structures on land without knowing or ascertaining title holders
The presence of debris and rubbles from the earthquake is still pervasive and predominant in the landscape of earthquake ravaged areas of Haiti.
More than ten months after of the January 12, 2010 earthquake and 2 million Haitians still live on the streets in full public view, subject to the elements, heat, the rains, mudslides and hurricanes.
2 million Haitians are still subject to disease outbreaks such as cholera, dysentery and diseases from poor living conditions, poor sanitation and impure drinking source.
During the blitzkrieg in the aftermath of the earthquake in January, more than sixty nations promised money and material aid in excess of five billion dollars, but, six more later, only Brazil, Norway and Sweden has fulfilled and redeemed their pledges; but why is this the case? But where are the nations who made loud promises and thereby deceived all of us, while giving Haitians false hope, and now, disappointment?
It will be recalled that in the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake on January 12 in Haiti, there were what appeared at the time, as quite extraordinary volumes of pledges and promises of financial and material support for the beleaguered people and nation of Haiti. There was what most thought and saw as an unprecedented outpouring of support. Where is everybody? Where is the press and media coverage? There were 24 hours and seven days a week coverage by journalists everywhere, soon after January 12.
That was then! But ten months after the cataclysmic earthquake and the deaths of more than 230,000 persons in Haiti, and the simultaneous displacements of millions of others in Haiti, the loud promises and pledges have not been fulfilled. It is certainly the case that more than 65 nations pledge what at the time appeared to a record amount of money, but, it is sadly now the case that only a microcosm among those nations have kept their promises and on camera pledges. As at this writing, only Brazil, Sweden and Norway have fulfilled their national pledges to the people and nation of Haiti.
The romance has worn off, the television cameras have moved away from Haiti and pledges are unfulfilled. My favorite journalists at CNN, the socially responsible Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta aired a prescient, profound and yet heart wrenching on the ground report from Haiti, reports which clearly indicates that the situation in Haiti has deteriorated since the departure of the klieg lights which were beamed on Haiti 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake disaster on January 12, 2010. Journalists across the world need to be asking questions again.
There is a need to keep the focus on Haiti, just so we all ensure that promises and pledges which were made, supposedly in good faith, are redeemed and there is accountability and transparency on the part of donors and recipients alike. It is too often the case, that donors make loud announcements without following through, and too often, the local populations are misled into believing that the billions of dollars promised were in actuality delivered, except that such gargantuan monies were mismanaged, misused or looted by local authorities through corruption
It will be quite nice to hold donors to account, audit them, just as we would demand auditing the recipient to ensure that reasonable expectations on the part of recipient nation and prospective beneficiaries are not misled. It is the case that social disenchantment and upheaval often arises from this sorts of expectation versus. It is such a shame that there remain this huge gap between very public ostentatious promises-pledges, and actual fulfillments of these genuine expectations.
We should spare thoughts for Haiti and Haitians. There are unfinished business and there are certainly many matters which have arisen and still arising. We concede there is a global economic downturn, but, that makes lives of Haitians even much worse.
We should spare thoughts for and about Haiti and Haitians, our people, in this great time of relief and reconstruction... the work in rebuilding Haiti, has only just begun in the most meager terms, we should keep the focus and attention on the progress on ground in Haiti. Haiti is the First Black Nation on earth. Haiti started the ball rolling toward political freedom and emancipation for continental Africans and all peoples of African descent...
Haiti and Haitians are still being punished for that singular audacity and temerity? Or what else explains this neglect of the human needs which remain unmet in Haiti? Haitians are a generous and a resilient people... they will not be broken... We should do EVERYTHING through engagement, and participation in the relief, reconstruction and rebuilding of Haiti.. Haiti and Haitians need our support for physical and metaphorical complete recovery. We should all do our part. Keeping Haiti and Haitians in our minds is a part of that.
Saudi Arabia just ordered weapons of war. The Saudi Kingdom is billions of dollars on arms and the government of the United States is facilitating these arms purchases which will lead to obvious arms race. And today, two million Haitians can use 1 percent of these monies for relief, reconstruction and rebuilding and even retrofit Haiti, but instead, they are thinking of food and shelter, basic survival needs which are still absent almost a year later. And the band plays on, monies by squandered worldwide.
We should all do our parts. Keeping Haiti and Haitians in our minds is a part of that. Haitians are not thinking. Haitian victims of abject conditions are left to wallow in squalor, even as they still need the mere basics of human existence; Haitians are thinking of food and shelter, the basic human survival needs, and necessity
The rain season is on, full steam and our people in Haiti are still under flimsy shelters. Ten whole months after the earthquake devastation and what at the time appeared to be an outpouring of supports and donations!
It now obvious why we must keep our attention on what is happening and the eventual outcomes. Would many of the promises and pledges made on camera by the world be kept?
Please help Haitians and Haiti, would you, please?