Haiti: When Will the Shaking Stop?
If you donated money to help quake-ravaged Haiti, you should be screaming mad.
I just returned from a special assignment in Port au Prince. In some areas, it looks like the shaking just stopped yesterday. Disarray, disease, despair and devastation are constants everywhere you turn.
You should be mad because the earthquake didn’t hit yesterday, but a year ago.
Thankfully, when disaster comes knocking, we always blow the door off its hinges with unyielding generosity. Roughly $5.3 billion was pledged to help Haiti. To date, only 18% has been delivered. The 18% has made a difference, though. Imagine what the other 82% could do.
A ground zero vantage point has popped my eyes open to some inconvenient truths:
- Over 1 million people are still living in tents in densely packed “tent cities.”
- Many don’t have access to clean drinking water. In 92 degree heat, thirst doesn’t discriminate. Dirty water always wins.
- Cholera epidemic rages. Roughly 3.600 Haitians have already died. At least 171,000 have been infected. The World Health Organization claims that the outbreak is far from reaching its peak.
We toured a couple tent cities. Imagine stuffing all your despair in a 6x6’ tarp-covered space. It’s brutal — as is the heat index inside. Pulling the plastic tarp back on one tent revealed a 7-year-old emaciated boy. He was lying on a cot in a catatonic state. Face frozen, body stiff. His mother said he’s sick and needs help. “Help” is a scarce resource in Haiti.
Everyone had a story to tell and every story always had the same ending. The only difference was how many loved ones perished in the quake. Many pulled out weather-beaten envelopes to show us photos of wives, children and husbands. The photos were the only survivors of January 12, 2010. Over 200,000 family members were lost.
We met teenage girls who have resorted to selling their bodies in order to buy food for their babies. Babies who are bespeckled with white blotchy marks. Apparently, it’s a side effect from the water that’s provided to the camps. To think we balk at our tap water. I can’t remember the last time I became bespeckled from turning on the tap. I asked the mothers about the skin condition, and they said it was non-existent before moving into the tent city.Continued on the next page