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Friday, July 12, 2024

Waiting for Santa Claus in Port-au-Prince

By Gyna Jean-Pierre

CSMS Magazine Staff Writer

Every year I try to draw the portrait of a positive outlook for Haiti. I always predict that things will get better, for it can’t get any worse than that. Each time, I come out somewhat off my predictions. This year, tough, I’m one hundred percent sure that my Haiti’s forecast will be RIGHT. How can I miss? How can anyone fail to predict a bleak future for Haiti?

The country I was born and never cease to love unconditionally is now standing on a desert filled with nightmarish elements rocked by despair and hopelessness. I have been trying for weeks to pinpoint the tiniest glimmer of hope in the horizon. I turn in every angle; I see nothing but an avalanche of blatant misery.  

On this Christmas Eve, as I grab my pen to write this piece and as I turn around to watch my daughter playing with her brand new Christmas doll, I can’t stop myself thinking about the thousands of homeless children roaming the streets of Haiti’s major cities, children struck by misfortunes, made orphans in blur by the devastated earthquake of last January.

On this cool tropical night with a lone star twinkling in the horizon, will Santa come? Absolutely not. Their night will end as it begins—a night swamped by werewolves where Santa sleigh commandeered by Rudolph will definitely overlook. Is Santa afraid of werewolves? These children, unaware of the entrenched poverty surrounding them, could not care less. Staying alive is their main priority. Over time, they have become immune to all kind of blissfulness, elatedness, and exultation. It is the classic nature of those who live in the shadow of death—those who live their lives wallowing in a state of dispiritedness, downheartedness, dolefulness, and despondency.

Eleven months after the apocalyptic earthquake that left nearly 2 million homeless or internally displaced and about half million dead, Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, the heart of the epicenter, looks like an uprooted fig tree, a ravaged landscape inhabited by an endangered people. As the city lays in ruin, no rescuer is spotted in sight. But there is one thing that keeps fueling my pessimism: the role, or lack there of, of the Haitian leaders.   

The country has a government in name only. Haiti’s future is being decided by others—people of good faith but who may never understand the deep-seated suffering under which malnourished children and their deprived parents live every day. Only Haitians can pull their country from the brink. Will they eventually do it? One can only hope. But for the sake of our beloved children and our dying Motherland, we need move beyond the sate of hopefulness. We need to act. It is now or never.

I dream of the day when a new kind of Haitians take charge of running their country, Haitian with heartfelt patriotism, Haitians coiffed under the creed of honesty in public affairs, and Haitians who see their nation first before any selfish interest.

What bothers me the most is the level of nonchalance displayed by the Haitian upper class or what’s left of it. Sadly enough, in the aftermath of the earthquake, I was convinced that it was a wakeup call for responsible governance in the land of Dessalines. The devastation, that kept the entire world breathless, was not confined to the disenfranchised areas of Haiti. It struck everyone, which would have reasonably translated into a national consensus to build a safer and prosperous country. We (I and many other observers) were wrong, and the masquerade of election of last month is a prime justification.  

One does not need to be a rocket scientist to see that Haiti cannot continue to go on this way.  Santa will once again miss Haiti, but when will he come?

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