Today is the two month marker since the earthquake. I’ll be honest, with wrapping up the class I didn’t even make the connection until just now. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not? Getting back to our normal and moving forward while others still live in tents and pray that the rain will hold off… sigh.
I have to be honest. There is a deep sadness in me that has been developing over the last few weeks. In the days and weeks immediately following the earthquake, in the midst of the destruction, I had hope. I felt hopeful because I thought that maybe this horrible situation would be what was needed to get the attention of the international community. I hope that it was something that would let them see that Haiti’s government is not functioning. It wasn’t before the quake. It looked like a government, but it was mostly made up of people that just moved around and looked busy while corruption flourished, and was in fact the root of most “business”. I felt hopeful that maybe someone would see that in order for Haiti to pull out of this, and mover forward, there would need to be a big change.
Please understand that I know another government can’t just swoop in and take over. There has to be an admittance from the government here that they can’t do it, that they need help. Only then can someone else take the reins. In my heart though the thing I so badly wanted was exactly that, that someone would swoop in and start the hard job of not just rebuilding a city, but an entire country.
As I’ve been moving through the last few weeks I’ve realized that things are not much different than they were before. I mean, aside from all the destruction and loss and suffering. The truth is things are resuming. And they will resume and be a mirror image of what they were before. Dysfunction. Corruption. A government that doesn’t work for it’s people.
People often ask Chris and I what we think would help Haiti move forward, help it develop and function at the same level as many other countries in the world. Our short response is usually security. Security comes from having a government that isn’t corrupt. It comes from having policing systems that truly work for the citizen, not to pad someone’s pocket. Security brings investment. No one will want to invest in a country that has a government that charges crazy customs fees and will only do their jobs when paid bribes. Investment will not happen if theft is accepted simply because a police officer wants to watch a football game rather than come to help the victim. Security is also the job of each individual in each community. It is a choice. A choice to live in peace with others around you. But it’s hard to live in peace when you know there is no one to come and help when you yourself are victimized, and when there is no one to stand up in the community from a government position to say, “This is not acceptable”. Community justice will not bring long term security. Security can bring jobs, but only if many other things fall into place. Jobs can get people off the streets and help them provide for their own families. Jobs give people dignity. Jobs give people a sense of purpose. Just last week in the dental clinic I met the mother of one of our new workers and she said to me, “Madame Chris, please, keep my son in his job. There is nothing in this country for him.” In her words I felt her pain as she looked at the possibilities for her son’s future and realized that there were none. I also felt her gratitude that we could provide him with work in a life that seemed so empty of options.
These things are heavy on my heart. What do I want to see for Haiti? I want to see a country where parents can know that their children have a future. That they will be able to get an education that goes beyond a 6th grade equivalent (on a good day). I want to see a Haiti where young men aren’t sitting around in lakous or on the street with nothing to do, but that they have jobs. Jobs that give them a sense of purpose and a feeling of accomplishing something good each day. I want families to know that they will be able to feed their children and that maybe their children won’t die from completely preventable disease and illness. I want to see a Haiti where people do not feel abandoned by their government, where their words aren’t “Haiti has no government.”
I am worried for Haiti. It’s been two months since the earthquake and still people are living in tents. There have been vast amounts of aid dollars committed or dispersed already, but what is the government doing with it? All we seem to read or hear is that they’re working at establishing more aid money. There needs to be accountability. The government needs to provide checks and balances and stop talking about what they want to do or need to do and just do it. Haiti will not progress or do anything until the Haitian government gets it’s act together. And if it can’t do that then they need to move over and let someone else do it. There are too many lives at stake now for this to be an issue of saving face and trying to look good in front of people. In fact, it seems like the longer they try to act like they know what they’re doing, the more they look like they have absolutely no idea what they’re doing.
It’s late, it’s past my bedtime. I’ve probably offended some, but a friend of mine once said, “You can’t offend people, people can choose to be offended.” This is just my perspective, my heartache, after living here for 4+ years and seeing stuff that goes on behind the scenes here. Ugh.