As we face the anniversary of the earthquake, let’s take a moment to reflect and honor the sacrifices of so many people, who perished. Without question, the death and destruction wrought by the earthquake have served to reinforce the ever-resilient spirit of Haiti and its people, my people.
Changed My Life
The earthquake changed many lives, mine included. I treasured life before and now I treasure it even more. Every minute, every second, is priceless. I am more optimistic today than I’ve ever been in my entire life. I see similar changes in others, particularly in our youth.
When you see the destruction, you not only see the number of people whose lives were sacrificed but you also see the sad sad reasons behind why so many lost their lives – lack of standards, lack of zoning, lack of resources, lack of infrastructure, lack of medical care, etc. A serious reality check that gives one the sense that no one cared.
The massive destruction and the number of women, men and children who left this earth in less than one minute, brought the world to Haiti. And when they arrived they were shocked by the destruction, traumatized by the living conditions that existed prior to the earthquake, then awed by the natural beauty of the country; and then again shocked by the realization that the island they were on was less than 900 miles off the coast of the wealthiest nation in the world. Unmasked, the ugliness of this realization was overpowered by the beauty of the country and its people. Haiti captured the hearts and minds of many who knew little of and did little for Haiti in the past. Many of these same people are now joining together and rebuilding Haiti.
Haiti is at a crossroad. Many players are on the field and the outcome will rely heavily on how well the Haitian government integrates key components such as the youth and the Haitian Diaspora, into the mix. The Haitian Diaspora already sends $2billion+ to Haiti individually, unfortunately not collectively. The youth are already motivated and armed with fresh thinking, a hunger for education, and the determination that will make positive things happen for Haiti. If the Haitian government, with the right partners, can harness the resources of the Haitian Diaspora and the youth, technically and financially, the $2 Billion+ can be the economic engine that will drive the sustainable development of Haiti and lay the infrastructure platform that will successfully lead to all rebuilding destinations.
Two Year Measures
I’m not happy with where Haiti is today, two years after the earthquake. There are still too many people living under tents and many more still suffering. However, with the leadership of a new youthful energetic administration in Haiti, a willingness to work with foreign partners such as the U.S., Europe, Asia and South America; things are changing rapidly. The collaborative spirit of 25+ countries, engagement of our youth, involvement of the Haitian Diaspora, and strong government leadership will put Haiti on the right road to recovery. I see it happening. All of this because of the earthquake.
Finally, for the first time in Haiti’s history over 700,000 elementary aged new students were registered and are now going to school as a part of a free education initiative sponsored by this new energetic government. History has taught us that in any developed society success started with the education of the youth – the reason that Le Flambeau Foundation is so committed to making a contribution in educating our youth in and from Haiti.
Vision for the Future of Haiti
We are now at the two year mark of the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti. I was optimistic before the earthquake and am even more so today. Yes, painful sacrifices have been made. Consequently people are involved, investing and constructing; and things are happening. The pace, initially slow, accelerated over the past six months. It’s not perfect but there is progress being made at a rate far exceeding advancements made prior to the earthquake. All eyes are on Haiti. My vision for Haiti is simple. I see Haiti evolving into a country where 80% of the population has access to the basics of living – housing, health care, education, electricity and water; living a full, productive and prosperous life. The ever-resilient spirit of Haiti and its partners throughout the globe will get us there soon. I will be there. Will you?
Jean St.Lot-Gervais, President, Le Flambeau Foundation Inc.
Board Members: J. St.Lot-Gervais, J. Puchner, T. Wright, G. Collingwood, S. Colas-Gervais