Published 8:18 am Friday, February 26, 2010
On Jan. 12 a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Port au Prince Haiti left tens of thousands of Haitians dead and a half million people homeless. Quake survivors took to the streets walking hundreds of miles to relatives in far villages.
An estimated one half of the city’s population remained in Port au Prince. They make their beds in the streets and city parks under the stars far from concrete walls or roofs that threaten to fall on them. Their homes have collapsed burying belongings and loved ones or they are afraid the aftershocks will do to them what the quake did to their families and neighbors.
Lives without four walls
Haiti’s future is about rebuilding, not just homes, schools and businesses, but lives. Lives without four walls called home, lives without mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, friends and neighbors. Before Haitians can rebuild their lives they must face the rigors of daily survival. Gripped with fending off each moment’s threat to their existence Haiti is a society with a survival mentality. “What will we eat right now?” Planning for the future is unnecessary if you cannot survive this moment of desperate need.
Haitians need shelter as the spring rains approach but they need jobs for cash to buy food. First they will buy food and if there is money left over they will buy cement to rebuild. These are immediate needs, survival needs, shelter and food.
Haiti is a country with 85 percent unemployment. There are few jobs in this country that burdens business owners with the most expensive wharf and kilowatt hour in the world. The Haitian government successfully chased away the US assembly sector in the 80’s. It is cheaper for US manufacturers to ship their materials to China and back, then to do business with Haiti 800 miles south of Florida.
Not enough teachers
Haiti is a country with 75 percent illiteracy, Haitians needs schools. There were never enough for the population with 50 percent of its people under age 21. Not enough teachers, not enough classrooms, not enough money to pay for tuition and books since there are not enough public schools in Haiti.
Many schools collapsed in the Jan. 12 quake. Those that did not, say they will open in two months. Some will never reopen, their teachers are dead and the children in the rubble are forever buried there.
International outpouring of aid in response to Haiti’s disaster is phenomenal, the world wants to help but they are hindered by Haitian sovereignty and corruption. Haiti is the fourth most corrupt nation in the world. Whistle blowers are punished and honest men ostracized. Complicity is rewarded and greed generates more greed. To rebuild lives, Haiti needs compassionate leadership, jobs, schools, food and shelter. Haiti needs a miracle.