Skip to main content

Haiti: Do you remember?

All photographs © 2010, United Nations Development Pr.
Eske ou sonje Ayiti?

It was a year ago that I woke up, looked out of my bedroom window, and immediately started to moan about the snow that had fallen overnight. I busied myself worrying about how I was to get to work through the mounds of white stuff that had fallen. By the time I had gotten to work, the snow was the last thing on my mind.

A devastating earthquake had hit Haiti and a country, already on its knees, found itself beaten down further. My only response at the time was to donate money to the Yéle Foundation and to write a poem, rebuking myself for my preoccupation with the weather. As the pictures came in I became upset, frustrated and angry. I wanted to be there. I wanted to help more than I was able to.

My immediate frustration was taken out on the prattling of my liberal friends using their usual litany of '-isms' rather than worrying about assisting with the humanitarian suffering in some way. I have learnt; liberals can be as conservative, or stubborn, as the neo-liberals they abhor.

So, one year on, where does Haiti stand and where do we stand?

Haiti still stands in ruin, it would appear. There have been a number of documentaries and news reports of late and, although I have been unable to catch them all, it seems that so much has yet to be done and so much suffering continues to this day.

Remembering that roughly 200,000 were killed by the eartquake and to date is is thought that 130,000 people have been affected by the outbreak of cholera in the country, the scale of the suffering becomes clear. Add to this the growing frustration directed by the population towards to the UN - an ubiquitous presence over the years. Stir this all up with allegations of 'orphaned' children being unlawfully taken from the country to America, an inconclusive, and frankly confusing, election process and a thousand prisoners running around following the destruction of Port-au-Prince's Penitentiary. 

There is no easy solution to the problems. Millions of pledged aid has yet to be given to Haiti as a result of foreign concerns about governmental corruption and the assumed inability to appropriately distribute it to those in need. Cholera cannot be fought effectively without a comprehensive refurbishment of national infrastructure, such as sewers and water pipes - something that was perhaps substandard already. This, at present, cannot be done without aid and outside assistance. The UN are becoming an object of hate and a target of aggression and, without a stable government... well, we've come full circle, the promised aid won't be given.

I think, for a human being, confused by the diplomatics and politics of it all, someone who cares for others, as I do, and as many others do, the one thing that we shouldn't fail in, is our capacity to remember those who continue to suffer, keeping them in our thoughts and holding onto hope for their futures.

Haiti: Do you remember? I do.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Atay Maghrebi: To Essaouira and the Atlantic

Leaving Marrakech, the landscape stays flat, except for a few distant outcrops of rock. The sensation of the inhospitality of the environment creeps up on you as the olive groves become fewer and further between and rough scrub runs away to the base of distant hills.
Eventually, the landscape starts to undulate as you pass through small towns like Sid L’Mokhtar, and, after two hours, Morocco simply runs out of land as the coach starts to plummet down to the Atlantic coastline and the peeling whitewash of Essaouira’s medina.

The morning started with the obligatory slices of sweet cake dipped into apricot jam, with a side of yoghurt and coffee. I had a chat with Merissa who was already awake and wearing sunglasses like she was nursing a hangover.
I packed up my bags and meandered my way out of the medina towards Bab Laksour to get a taxi.
Having learned the lesson last year that taxi metres are always mysteriously broken in Marrakech, I readied myself for a battle with the driver who…

Atay Maghrebi: Out of the Dark and into Jemaa El-Fnaa

The night time offers a wealth of opportunity and intrigue in almost any country, but when I'm somewhere where my understanding of the language extends to just a handful of phrases and disconnected words, I find it all the more enthralling. Marrakech genuinely quickens the pulse and widens the eyes by night, with the famous Jemaa El-Fnaa as its wildly arrhythmic beating heart.

After a day of perfectly idle wandering and preparing for my journey to Essaouira, I sat up on the roof terrace, ordered atay, read the ending of Alex Garland’s The Beach and waited for sunset.

During this time, a Dutch woman and a Belgian man sat near to me and started to talk about a range of subjects. Most of their discussion was centred around the regular banalities of two travellers who don’t know each other well and clearly don’t have a great deal in common.
Shortly before sunset, the Belgian man caught my attention as he started to regale his newfound friend with quotes from the Quran taken both ou…

From a Crooked Rib by Nuruddin Farah

I stumbled across Nuruddin Farah’s novels when searching for something written by a Somali author. Perhaps due to the conflict that has raged for years in Somalia, it is very difficult to find much from Somali writers published in English.
From a Crooked Rib was published in 1970 and tells the story of Ebla, a young, orphaned, illiterate nomadic girl, who runs away from her encampment. She takes the decision to leave upon learning of her Grandfather’s intention to marry her off to an older man within their Jes (a group of families living in an encampment together).
She firstly escapes to a town, Belet Amin, where she finds her cousin and his pregnant wife. She also finds a guide and confidante in a character known only as the widow. Things seem settled until, yet again, Ebla finds her freedom compromised by a male character – this time her cousin, whose wife and child Ebla has been nursing.
In her haste she leaves Belet Amin with the widow’s nephew, bound for Mogadishu – still called