Haiti: What Now?

Published January 12, 2011

Marking the one-year anniversary of the earthquake that killed 250,000 people in Haiti by sitting in my apartment in New York and writing an article for a web site feels like a case study in how people in the world don’t do enough to help other people who need help. But since this is where I find myself, and not marking the anniversary at all would probably be a case study in something worse, I’ll cop to it.

Some facts about where things stand: 800,000 people are still without homes in Haiti; a disputed presidential election has led to violence and still no clear result two months after ballots were counted; and a cholera epidemic that has taken 3,600 more lives has not yet peaked, according to the World Health Organization. International donors pledged $2.01 billion to the long-term recovery effort last year. So far, $1.28 billion has been delivered. “No-one is more frustrated than I am that we haven’t done more,” said Bill Clinton who is heading up the UN’s rebuilding efforts and is in Port-au-Prince to attend today’s national church service. But, also, he says, “Everyday there's hope and there's frustration, but I’d say the hope still outweighs the frustration.”

Lastly, and maybe this is an example of how feelings of impotence and helplessness can lead to lashing out, but: let’s take a moment to remember that last year, two days after the quake struck, televangelist Pat Robertson blamed the tragedy on the fact that Haitians “swore a pact to the devil” 200 years ago.

While commemorating the anniversary with some kind of international “F--- Pat Robertson Day” might satisfy a baser instinct, though, it would probably be better to just give some money to the ongoing relief effort. Oxfam is always accepting donations.       

Written by Dave Bry

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