There has been an outpouring of support since the earthquake struck Haiti on Tuesday afternoon. As you may have already seen in the news, the situation is dire at best. In a city of 2 million, more than a million people are still unaccounted for, and 500,000 are feared dead. As for those still hanging on to life, but who are badly injured and in need of immediate medical assistance, we do not know for sure about their safety. Since Tuesday night, Dr. Isma has been trying—using every means at his disposal—to reach someone to tell him that some of his closest relatives are okay without any luck. Yesterday morning, his childhood friend who works for the Canadian embassy in Port-au-Prince, called him to let him know that five of his cousins were found alive, six of them are still missing and presumed dead because their houses have been destroyed, and they appeared to have been in their homes at the time of the impact. Dr. Isma’s wife’s aunt, who lives in a three-story home, is also among the missing, including a dozen or so people who dwell in the same house.
Since the tragedy, Haitian nights have been nothing but sleepless, nightmarish, as many families plunge into total despair, hopelessness and outright anger—inconceivable to believe that a poor country such as Haiti has been the victim of 15 calamities in just 9 years. A city decimated, scores of neighborhoods flattened, hundreds of thousands trapped and feared dead beneath the rubble, and the survivors—roaming the streets under the sharp piercing light of the midday sunray—are going stir crazy in a desperate attempt to find a safe refuge. It sounds like a gut wrenching story in one of the Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novels. But it’s real, and that’s the biggest and inexplicable difference. This latest one carries weight of biblical proportion, and one can only be pessimistically optimistic that Haiti will one day land on its feet. This is the darkest moment of its 200-year history, and its very existence as a country is now threatened. But Haitians are a resilient people. Even as tragedy after tragedy mounts upon their back, they would still find the dimmest glow of hope to hang onto life. Sometimes, even in the vestigio of twilight, hope can still be found. One just has to keep the faith.
The horror gets more horrific by the minute
Rumors have been circulating around the death of several prominent figures in Haiti. Among them are well known Haitian geographer, Georges Anglade and his wife, former presidential candidate Gerard Gourgues, and well known politician and an important member of the middle class, Michard Gaillard. It is difficult to independently confirm these rumors. Television footages are gruesome at best. Bodies littered the streets. Hospital emergency rooms are swamped. Wiclef Jean spent all day yesterday, collecting bodies, according to Radio Metropole. The Haitian rapper is now launching a major plea to many of Hollywood superstars to donate. Wiclef said Yele, his nonprofit organization, plans on collecting a million dollar a day. A long trench was built just outside of Port-au-Prince to bury dead bodies collected off the streets.
The international community appears ready to help, and the big question remains: Who will be in charge of the distribution process in order to make sure that the aid goes out to where it is really needed? The impotent Haitian government has already washed its hands. Haitian President, Rene Preval confirmed it on CNN when he declared, “I don’t even know where I’m going to sleep.” Haiti’s future is definitely uncertain. Now, we have a country with no functioning government, and people are left to fend for themselves. The crippled government may be waiting for when things start to get better so its officials—shamelessly so—can claim to say that are once again in charge.
Never before that has one experienced such impotence from a government. One can only hope that this apocalyptic earthquake—besides its devastating blow to an already destitute population—takes with it the malignant tumor ravaging the state bureaucracy in Haiti, deracinating it so a fresh beginning could emerge. The hope is now for an unspoken consensus to find its way into the hearts of all Haitians, rich or poor, so that business will cease to be done the old way. Either we fix things up and Haiti survives, or we look the other way and let others lead us to the path of extension.