Four Years - Has the Shaking Stopped?

Today marks the day that everything changed.

At 4:53 PM EST today, we'll be at exactly the 4 year anniversary of the earthquake that changed Haiti forever.    

From my standpoint, I want to share with you some thoughts and reflections on what has transpired since then, what difference it has made, what has changed and what hasn't......

Keep in mind, these are my opinions from my viewpoint through the electronic interactions that I have had and by no means are official or even accurate since I don't live in Haiti and so I don't have the ability to see a lot of things that others do.

The horrible loss - whether you believe the most conservative estimates or the most generous estimates, this was a natural disaster of epic proportions.   Hurricane Katrina, the most devastating natural disaster to hit the United States killed 1,833 people.   Estimates in Haiti range from 85,000 up to close to 300,000 deaths.  Whatever the numbers was, that means that a lot of people in Haiti are grieving the loss of family from four years ago today.

The horrible damage - I've read documents that lay out a convincing case that just living in Haiti could give one an "active" case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.   For those who were in Haiti during the earthquake and the rescue and recovery phases, along with the countless aftershocks that happened, it has taken a horrible toll on everyone.   Whether it means that you're adjusting to life without one or more of your limbs, or you are mourning the loss of family members or just reliving the death and destruction, there was and continues to be a significant emotional toll on those who lived through it and survived.   How can I tell that from Michigan?   When there is a relatively small earthquake - but just enough to shake things a little bit, my social media news feed (both twitter and Facebook) light up with people who are in Haiti and are either very nervous themselves or are posting about people running out into the streets in panic fearing another "Big One."   The damage was both physical (to people and to buildings) and also emotional.

Many NGOs (non-governmental organizations) took this disaster to step well beyond their normal "scope of operations" and did amazing work in horrible conditions.   Two of them that come to mind are the University of Miami that set up a tent hospital at the airport and JP/HRO and the work they have done with the tent city on the Petionville' golf course and additional efforts of disaster recovery.

Many other NGOs took this disaster to step well beyond their normal scope but did not handle the additional donations well nor use the funds responsibly.   I'm not going to mention any names but I'm just going to say that the first time I was there after the earthquake, I saw a LOT of brand new SUVs riding around with their windows rolled up, the A/C on and a non-profit's decal on the side of it.   Did they do some good?  Yes they did.   Did they do as much as they could?   No, I'd say they didn't.

And then there are other NGOs who essentially said, "We know who we are, we know what we do, we'll help others out when we can, but we aren't going to lose sight of our vision or the need that we know is and will continue to be evident."

So, with that being said, where do I see Haiti 4 years after the earthquake?

  • Rebuilding - the rebuilding process in terms of the physical rebuilding is moving at a significantly slower pace than it would in the United States but it is moving and progress is being made.
  • Government - The Haitian government is putting new adoption laws in place that will help the adoption process hopefully work more smoothly.  It is still a work in process.
  • Life - the impression that I get is that life is harder for the vast majority of Haitians than it was before the earthquake.
  • The need of the children - if anything, the need of the children in Haiti is worse than it was.   Malnutrition, disease and more are an ongoing problem.

There have been many things that God has done, lives that have been changed, suffering that has been eased.   But the work isn't done, far from it.   There are kids who need help, families who need help.  

And God is saying, "We need to keep on keeping on - because the work isn't done."

I hope you'll join us as we move into the 5th year after the earthquake and continue to fight for the kids in Haiti.

On behalf of the kids,

Tom



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