Today, January 12, 2015 marks the five year anniversary of the devastating earthquake that occurred in Port-au-Prince, leaving thousands dead, more wounded and millions without homes. Since that day, millions of dollars have come into the country in the form of aid, most of it to provide relief for the immediate needs of the population after the earthquake. Rebuilding has occurred in some areas of the country but thousands of people still live in tents or plywood shelters, rather than permanent concrete homes. The appearance of cholera several months after the earthquake only worsened the health status of the people and the epidemic persists, largely due to a lack of clean water and improved sanitation, especially in rural areas. Despite the devastation in Port-au-Prince, people’s lives have continued relatively unchanged. They set up their wares to sell by the side of the streets on top of the rubble, rather than on the sidewalk. Their houses are now covered with tin and tarps, rather than concrete, the kind that came crashing down on unsuspecting victims on that fateful day. Colorful tap-taps continue to provide them with local transportation and banks, offices and businesses are filled with clients clamoring for their services.
Haiti is changed, but unchanged. No one’s life was unaffected by the events of that day five years ago. But, lives have gone on, some for better, some for worse. The rich have gotten richer in the re-building efforts, but the poor seem to have gotten poorer as very little aid has trickled down to them. This is Haiti as it always has been – the very rich and the very poor, with very little in between. These are the people we at Friends for Health in Haiti are here to serve and we count it a privilege to live among them and to share in their struggles with them.
I encourage you to take a moment today to reflect, not on the tragedy that occurred that day five years ago, but on the resilience of the Haitian people, their patience and persistence in the face of insurmountable problems and their faith and belief in the God who created them.