LÃ©ogÃ¢ne, Haiti. Many countries in the world have been hit by terrible earthquakes. My own beloved Haiti was one of these. When my country became a victim of natural disaster on January 12, 2010, my life changed forever. Here is my story, about how my people have been compelled to help themselves and my personal reflections following the cataclysm of that dreadful day.
At a quarter to five a year and a half ago, I had just finished eating and had left my house. After a few seconds the earthquake started and I instantly became anxious for the members of my family and friends, my neighbours –all of my Haitian brothers and sisters whose lives were at stake.
The houses around me began to collapse. I saw the historic Sainte Rose Delima church fall in front of me. Yet I never lost faith. Although still very scared, my friend and I agreed to go see our families. At this moment people began to gather. The dusk fell sharply, leaving us in complete darkness. What electricity we had prior to the earthquake was no more.
As the sun rose the next morning I began to help people still alive under the rubble. LÃ©ogÃ¢ne was the epicenter of the quake and 90% of our city had been demolished. As I walked along the road giving small bags of water to those who had lost their money and could no longer buy their own water. I realize now that the support my family and I contributed that day salvaged the lives of many.
In regard to Haiti’s story and society we can ask where our continued and compounded difficulties come from. I think these problems are caused directly by the bad management of our leadership. We are very proud of our history, the first free slave state in the world, but our actions today do not reflect our proud heritage.
Our young people no longer accentuate to work for own country, to participate in our social, economic, and political activities. They suffer so much from the ”˜agricultural obstacle’ – our country can no longer produce its own food to feeding us and we are forced to import rice. Our youth try to find new ways to get money to survive, even if their direction puts the country in an awful situation; they don’t care.
I see a day in the future when bad things become good, when the news of our participation to help Haiti echoes around the world. We will become the previous generation.
Despite all the things that we missed, I have tried to do my best my best after this catastrophe. I couldn’t really help the disabled survivors – ones who lost arms, legs, eyes”¦ it was very complex!
Today we have an opportunity to go the opposite way and to leave something better for our children. Through our education system, we must help each family have new social formations as the institution of behaviour.
We must supervise our children for the eventual future. We must believe that “The New Haiti begins with us!”
Jonel Poyo is a student in the Orphans International Worldwide (OIWW) Mentorship & Leadership Training Program in LÃ©ogÃ¢ne and will study in the fall under the umbrella of the International University Center Haiti, LÃ©ogÃ¢ne.
Photographs taken from Photo Essay: LÃ©ogÃ¢ne After the Quake by Jim Luce, originally published in the Stewardship Report, November 7, 2010. Taking pictures of a city 90% destroyed by the quake was as difficult as capturing the Indonesian villages wiped clean by the Tsunami. The aftermath looks more like a garbage dump, like the Fresh Kills site on Staten Island, than a disaster zone.
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Originally published in The Daily Kos, July 2, 2011.