CSMS Magazine Staff Writer
A closer look of the reality on the ground in Port-au-Prince portrays a grim picture of a people in extreme danger. Before the earthquake, the ferocity of poverty was already well entrenched. Now it is pure hell on earth. Thousands of victims—now presumed dead—are still under the rubble. It might take some time to recover their bodies. This may cause some serious health hazard, according to many health experts. Despite the huge display of support coming from as far away as Russia, there is a great worry tonight that it might be too late for many survivors, especial those who survived the earthquake but who remain in critical conditions after being spent hours under the heavy concrete rubble. These people need urgent care to get out of the twilight zone.
To many survivors, it is simply too late, as it was the case of Nadine Saintil, the cousin of Gary Joseph, CSMS Magazine staff writer. She spent 48 hours beneath the house she lived in, pinned down by heavy pieces of metals. She held on for hours with great stoicism, even after her relatives tried and failed to convince rescuers from the UN to try to help. UN rescuers arrived at the scene, looked at the situation and walked away, saying there was nothing they could do. Nadine’s brother and cousin mobilized the neighbors, who finally managed to get her out the crumbled house. They quickly rushed her to an ambulant dispensary nearby for first aid. But that did almost nothing to ease the heart wrenching pain Nadine was under. Her parents chattered a bus to carry her to Port-de-Paix. But she died shortly thereafter, succumbing to her pain after the exhausted long ride to Port-de-Paix, some 100 miles away.
Gary feels completely beaten by this latest turn of event. As tears well down his cheeks, he finds his back swinging against the uncertainty of life, only to face his own mortality. Nadine’s case is the mirror reflection of tons of other cases like her—young lives who fought and lost against the odds, betrayed by the indifference of those who are entrusted to save lives but look the other way when the task requires extraordinary sacrifices for which they feel a Haitian life is not worth enduring, thereby enflaming the staggering scope of Haiti’s nightmare.
It is estimated that perhaps 200,000 may have died and 1.5 million were made homeless in the quake-stricken city where, according to the Associated Press, “injured survivors still died in the streets, doctors pleaded for help and looters slashed at one another in the rubble.” This is a classic case of dehumanizing an already deprived population that lives in abject poverty even before the earthquake.
To night, as the sun sinks behind the mountains and the twinkling stars glitter in the firmament and the stench and the hellish haze retreat to their atmospheric spots, another long, painstaking night emerges to swell the hearts of the fear-ravaged survivors who seek consolation solely in their improvised songs in which they breathe hope and in which they express their soul boiling over their bitter gloom. Their depressed tone is a testimony against their dehumanizing condition as well as a plea to God for deliverance. Haiti is bleeding, but not entirely beaten. She can still take a last stand against the odds. Upset victories are always ushered by those whose unbreakable faith never whither. Watching these heart wrenching pictures in front of a television screen, it can only depress one’s spirit and fill one’s heart with ineffable sadness. And as Federick Douglass puts it, “[this has deepened] my hatred of slavery and quicken my sympathies for my brethren in bonds.”
Tomorrow will be another day in hell, but the resilience will eventually prevail. Through soul searching and national consciousness, Haiti has a chance to start anew. Betrayed by its leaders and left to rot by a recalcitrant bourgeoisie that never understood its historical mission, the country paid a heavy price. Two hundred years of political turbulences punctuated by scores of natural disasters have reduced the land of Dessalines into an ecological nightmare. But if self-consciousness is the order of the day, Haiti will be like bamboo that no windstorm can ever uproot. This is no metaphor; nor is it a therapeutic exercise to heal some self-wounded pride. Despite all this dazzling show of support—logistically and morally—from the international community, the future and the survival of Haiti will surely rest into the hands of its children. Only Haitians can bring deliverance to bear. The question is: How?
Also see Will Haiti recover?