January 12, 2011, the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake that occurred in Haiti, is a national day of mourning in the country. Over 200,000 people died and hundreds of thousands were injured that day. 1.5 million were left homeless, the majority of whom are still living in temporary shelters and tents in Port-au-Prince and its environs. Lives lost, lives changed, a capital city destroyed, all in the space of 40 seconds. We join with our Haitian brothers and sisters today in prayer for this country and its suffering people and we invite you to add your prayers and thoughts to ours.
There have been many articles in the press recently questioning the use of funds that were donated in the aftermath of the earthquake. As one looks around Port-au-Prince, there are a few improvements evident to the casual observer. Most of the buildings in the city have been evaluated by engineers, but only a few of the ones that were condemned have been razed. Some rubble has been cleared and a few buildings repaired. Temporary wooden shelters have replaced a few of the tents in tent camps and water and sanitation facilities have been provided to those living in the camps. Government ministries and departments have been relocated to temporary quarters and many of the destroyed government buildings have been razed and the rubble cleared out. The presidential palace has been left as it was immediately after the earthquake – a testimony to the tragedy that claimed so many lives, young and old.
In the area which Friends for Health in Haiti serves, there was not the physical destruction that there was in Port-au-Prince. But our patients still mourn the loss of children, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Their lives will never be the same and they still speak of that day, January 12th, 2010 with sadness in their voices. Our clinic overflows with patients each time we are there, many of whom were previously living in Port-au-Prince and have now returned to their rural homes. We’ve contributed seeds and agricultural assistance to the communities around us and are helping them organize themselves for further development projects. We are finalizing construction plans for a permanent clinic building that we expect to start in a few months and this will allow us to significantly expand our services, save many more lives and provide employment for skilled and unskilled workers. The funds that have been contributed to us are being used for long-term solutions in our area – prevention and treatment of illness, agricultural development, water and sanitation and employment. We strive to be sustainable, appropriate and responsible. Thank you for assisting us in achieving our goals. The Lord is at work!