When the earth shook Haiti in 2010, I thought that was going to be the worst we would ever have it. Seeing the disheartening images, the collapsed and damaged houses made me feel despondent. I thought it was a wake-up call. I thought to myself, this is a call for us to finally unite. Spiritually, we seemed unified for a little while, as we cried and morn collectively. We felt like those who died were our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, our children and beloved ones. Every Haitian got a call wherever they were in the world, and realized for that moment how we are one.
Those who did not seem to have gotten a call, however, was the recognized leadership of our beloved country. The majority of the world stood with us and offered a much-needed helping hand. Haiti’s politicians failed us once more. When Rick Sanchez of CNN found President Preval at the Toussaint L’Ouverture airport after in the aftermath of the earthquake and asked him what was the government’s plan, his response was, “my palace collapsed”. In the midst of the biggest natural disaster in the history of the country, the president first and foremost worried about himself. His self-centeredness proved he was not fit to manage the relief funds. But that did not stop him from doing so, as it automatically opened the doors for all NGOs on the planet to come forth and do as they pleased.
No order. No preparation. No accountability. No lessons learnt. As a result, little was done on a sustainable scale.
Now 6 years later, the southwestern region of the country got slammed by a category 4 Hurricane — the most powerful storm to hit the Caribbean in nearly a decade, pounding the Bahamas and flooding parts of Jamaica and Cuba after is torturing of Haiti.
The province of Jérémie, the capital of the southern department of Grande Anse, supposedly got hit the hardest. it’s almost a total destruction. According to CARE Haiti, the storm destroyed 80% of the buildings and wrecked electricity and phone lines. According to the Haitian government, as of October 7, the death toll is about 842. But that number is sure to rise as people deal with the unsanitary and desperate conditions that are now their reality.
Haiti is vulnerable to natural disasters due to many factors, including its fragile infrastructures and its much-advertised chronic deforestation. One can foretell that the worst is yet to come for that side of the island. With the warming of the sphere from all the immature money-making endeavors of the rich worlds, the storms won’t stop churning.
It seems Haiti is a land that attracts disasters. When it’s not a monstrous natural disaster, it’s horrific political one—taking blows after blows. The outside world is entertained by this as the world media projects the most negative images of the country, consistently cursing Haiti as the “poorest country in the Western Hemisphere”. Haitians have been called all kind of names. We, as Haitians, have to look ourselves in the mirror and take ownership of guiding our country towards betterment. We need to expect more from ourselves as it relates to how we engage with the every-day people and ultimately the bozo politicians (wearing suits in a despicably hot climate) line up to plunder in the name of civil servitude.
I think this is the time for us to do for ourselves. Our true friends and neighbors can help, but the responsibility should be ours. It will take compassion to do it though. I’m already thrilled to see so many Haitian non-profit organizations in the diaspora come together for relief efforts. This is a good start. But we also need to brainstorm for long-term, sustainable solutions that need not sophistication to realize.
We can’t continue to let these politicians keep the Haitian people in the abyss of poverty and ignorance while they profit. They’re using the same devise and conquer tactic that the country’s historic enemies have used against its people and thought around the world over to the so-called educated to continue on their behalf. They are the problem. As the Haitian presidential election is only a few days away, let’s make sure our families there vote with their minds not their emotions.
The future starts now. The diaspora needs a vote.
Rodly “Oz’mosis” Madeus