Before earthquake, I remember a beautiful Haiti
I recall taking a boat to the island of La Gonâve where people were so poor living amidst a littered beach in makeshift huts. One particular man was so happy to see us that he climbed a coconut tree in what seemed to be record speed and proceeded to crack open the coconuts to give us the juice to drink on what was a very hot afternoon.
The Haitian people I met had nothing of monetary value, but were eager to show their appreciation to us for coming to their island be it with a presentation of food or a simple smile.
Back in 2006, the clinics we visited in Haiti had very limited facilities and resources. This was before the devastating hurricanes of 2008 that inflicted a multitude of damage to Haiti with a loss of life of over 1,000 people.
Prior to this, Concern established the only health clinic in Port-au-Prince and paid for the rehabilitation of the building and acquired medical staff to attend to the at-risk population.
Bear in mind that over 60,000 people are living in one square kilometer in the capital city. As a result of last week’s earthquake, I can only imagine how difficult it is for very sick people to get medical attention at this time when the hospitals and clinics have literally buckled.
Basic structures, such as tents and mobile units have been set up temporarily to attend to those in need, but it’s still not enough. Based on various media reports, dead bodies are lining the streets with the threat of decomposition and disease. Unfortunately, many of these unidentified bodies will end up in mass graves without families being able to connect with the remains.
Survivors of the quake have had no choice but to seek refuge outdoors, as they await medical attention, food, and water. People are terrified to enter buildings that haven’t collapsed for fear that the structure may crumble at any given moment.
To think that people who had very little to begin with don’t even have a change of clothes. They are left with no possessions whatsoever, not even mementoes or family photos of those who have passed before them.
Walsh was interviewed by Irish radio host Adrian Flannelly of the Irish Radio Network in New York on last Saturday’s program where she gave an update on the current situation in Haiti. She indicated that the response effort in the next six months needs to be massive.
Basically, Concern will have to start all over again from Day One to get people back to where they were in order for progress to occur, which could inevitably take years to recover from.
While in Africa recently, Walsh sought the assistance of Digicel CEO Denis O’Brien who helped to get Concern’s aid workers and relief supplies into Haiti. She explained, “We’re trying to respond to the needs on the ground with food supplies. It’s critical to get the aid into the hands of the people.”