Praying for Haiti - One Year LaterEndre Kormos - 12 Jan 2011
It's a hot day in Port-au-Prince. Traffic is moving painfully slowly in the city. Today it's flooded with journalists and reporters, politicians and celebrities, NGO agents and missionaries - all of them here to remember a tragedy that redefined life for almost 1.5 million people, and in one way or another for everybody here in Haiti. And there is a lot to remember since 12 January 2010.
The earthquake that shook the country turned out to be only the first in a set of disasters. After the death of almost 280.000 people another 1 million people became displaced (word of the mouth says 1.5 million) and have been living in 2m2 tarp tents in refugee camps ever since among terrible conditions and deep poverty.
Rape statistics have soared to an all-time high. Then the floods came, and the floods were followed by a hurricane – “Imagine what it’s like to have to hold your roof above your head every time the rain starts to fall” - wrote a friend of mine when the hurricane hit. The hurricane went but the elections came: the disputed results drove people to the streets. And of course there’s the latest: cholera, with a death toll of over 3000.
“What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten.” (Joel 1:4)
It's no exaggeration to say that Haiti has been through one of its worst years. Ever. Thank God this year is over.
The last year has left a legacy that is very hard to live with. But the strength of the people here amazes me. It has been one year in tents now and they can still cope. The rubble is still around (actually, little of it got cleared away, especially in the poorer parts of town), but people are volunteering to clean up their city. Some bought shovels and a few sacks of cement to repair the roads – because they cannot expect anyone else to do it for them. NGOs are working hard on rebuilding the country, but only a very small percentage of the pledged money has arrived (6 months ago only 2% of pledges had actually made their way through the bureaucracy), and the interest of the international community is getting weaker and weaker each day.
With elections coming up soon (hopefully), people are desperate for change. But whoever is going to be elected, or whatever the amount of foreign aid finally making its way into the country, the solution is not in might, nor in power, horses, money, politicians or NGOs.
I remember that some 9 months ago I was standing on a rooftop near what used to be the Presidential Palace. Hundreds of thousands were praying on the streets – a revival was breaking loose. The speaker asked us to raise our hands: “These are the hands that will rebuild Haiti. The people have cried out to God. And we believe he will heal His land” – he said.
After a year of suffering we need to cry out to God again - believing he will listen, and as he promised, he will “repay us for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, His great army, which He sent against us. And we shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord our God, who has dealt wondrously with us. And His people shall never again be put to shame.” (Joel 2: 25-26) So be it. Priye pou Ayiti!