Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Week of Hell in Haiti

It's happening again. Deja vu. I thought after Katrina, lessons would be learned, and that the next time disaster struck, it would be handled better. And maybe it has been, but from all that I have seen from Haiti, it is playing like a repeat episode of a bad drama ... scenes of anguished faces, desperate pleas for help, streets littered with corpses and people deprived of the basics of life .... while the basics for life sit stockpiled at the airport.

After the earthquake the world responded immediately - and generously. The cries of the those plunged in darkness and despair were heard. Monies were raised in record time and volunteers, supplies and planes were dispatched. There was - and is - a will to assist.  Sadly the challenge has been to effectively coordinate the distribution of the life saving food, water and medicines to the survivors who are in urgent need. CNN just reported that it is estimated that as many as 20,000 earthquake survivors are dying every day due to the lack of medical treatments and basic essentials. Preventable deaths.

How can  this be happening yet again? Life is a precious gift. The Haitians who are alive have already survived a catastrophic event - only to face a second life threatening hurdle. Every death now - especially those caused by starvation or lack of water is preventable and inexcusable.

One of the most moving moments I witnessed was the spirit of a woman pulled from a flattened building after six days. Her husband was waiting for her, and when she saw him, she raised her arms in praise and burst into song. She was singing her thanks for being alive. My take away - reminder to honour the gift that is my life.

The blackboard found from a collapsed school serving as a tomb for 130 perished children had a message written in chalk by the teacher the day of the earthquake  ... it read  "May God receive them with open arms".

We can do better. We must.


  1. Just in defense of the coordinators of aid, it is INCREDIBLY hard to get services to people. It was hard with Katrina and it was one country. I think it will be SO much harder in Haiti because there are organizations from all over the world and no one wants to relinquish control. Plus, logistics in a country like Haiti was hard before the earthquake and has to be 100 times harder now after the quake. I think it's easy for us to criticize from here, wondering why agencies can't get it together and why resources are just sitting, but it is so complicated and no one can ever be prepared for something like this. Who do you help first? What is more important - food? water? medical services? sanitation? And how do you get there when so much infrastructure was ruined and roads are blocked and EVERYONE needs help. I just hope that people/agencies/governments start working together and helping those that need it rather than fighting amongst themselves.

    Haiti - you are in my heart.

  2. Kattrina - Thanks for your comment ... but jut to clarify, the aid providers and coordinators are not the target of my comments. I can see the logistical nightmare that exists...and the point I am making is that we need to solve the one recurring, fundamental problem that keeps rearing its ugly head ... who takes control? Whos is in charge? What is the chain of command - the pecking order?

    So many giving and caring citizens, professionals, and organizations have committed to helping in this crisis. We are so close -- it just kills me to see if lapse at the final stage. And I really am just complaining aloud to the universe - I am not pointing the finger. I have no solution -- but we really need one, don't we. If not in time for this crisis, then for the next.

    Thanks for your insights, K.

  3. I lived through the horror that was Katrina, up close and personnel.
    I will tell you the one thing that I took away with me more than anything else, it times like this you see the Best and the very worst of humanity.
    and they are both always present at moments like these.
    there is no way around it.
    but I am so thrilled to se that so many are helping and still being present for those in need.


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