For the first time since coming back the plight of the people is sinking in and it hurts!
Unlike most foreign correspondents, I have reference points, I have an intimate knowledge of what used to be (I was born and raised in Haiti) and when I look around I don’t just see broken down houses and chaos, the picture of what used to be is superimposed in my mind over the rubble; and it hurts!
Visiting the tent cities yesterday and looking at all these people who, in the space of 30 seconds, lost everything: mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, daughters and sons, homes, and now live in squalor not unlike the worse shanty towns I've seen, it breaks my heart!
In my travels around the world I’ve seen quite a lot of people scavenging for food but the sight of young men risking their lives pocking through the rubble of a grocery store where bodies are still trapped and rotting is truly unfathomable.
The loss of property and the loss of limb is bad enough but the one thing that is not being seen to yet, understandably so, is the psychological effect of 12 jan. More than a month after the earthquake a lot of people are still afraid to sleep in their houses. Perfectly strong and solid homes can be seen with tents in the front gardens because the people are terrified and will not chance another aftershock. Even at the hospitals, recovering victims refuse to be placed in rooms therefore doctors and nurses are forced to care for them in tents. The hospital that’s connected to the orphanage for which I’ve raised funds is experiencing the same scenario.
I could easily succumb to this niggling temptation to be discouraged and lose hope but visiting Gladys Thomas who runs “Hopital Espoir” or hope hospital I am truly encouraged to be hopeful. The orphanage was already meeting a great need even before the earthquake. Abandoned and handicapped children who were not being properly looked after at the government funded general hospital were being entrusted into the care of Gladys and the Foundation for the Children of Haiti (http://www.usfch.org/). Their ethos is not one of “charity” meaning just throwing a bone at these kids. Rather, they strive to give the children a sense of family, and a sense of dignity. Children that come to the USFCH are cared for, kept healthy and educated. Many have been adopted by loving families around the world and in
Since the earthquake, they have been running beyond capacity. The hospital has had to take in not only children but anyone in need of traumatic care. In the days following, rooms, hallways, and the yard were filled to capacity.
Their plan for the future besides their normal programs of health care, education, and adoption is to embrace the “Amputee Generation” by starting a rehabilitation and prosthetic centre. The only prosthetic company in the country, Saint Vincent De Paul, is in rubbles.
Yesterday I talked about the impotence of the government but thank God for non-profit organizations like the USFCH. They are the future, they are the hope. Haitians, it seems, can’t wait on their government. They must join forces and with all the help they can get start rebuilding their society from the grassroots.