I was so moved by this article by Bill Neely of ITV that I decided to post it in full here. I really despair for the people of Haiti.
Posted by Bill Neely. 13 January, 2011
Haiti’s day of remembrance is over. Its people prayed,laid their wreaths,stood in silence,released their balloons and braced themselves foHaiti’s day of remembrance is over. Its people prayed,laid their wreaths,stood in silence,released their balloons and braced themselves for the aftershocks many were convinced would pepper the day. There were none. But they will go on believing the worst is yet to come for many years.
And bizarrely,in the middle of a day of terrible memories,their Prime Minister decided this was the moment to revise the death toll upward by ninety thousand. Until now it has stood at,depending who you ask, roughly a quarter of a million people or,precisely,222,570. Suddenly,Haiti’s dysfunctional government,which can hardly count its own officials,or its population at the best of times,announced a massive dive in the depth of its country’s tragedy.Often,the higher the death toll,the more generous international donor countries will be. Perish the thought that Haiti’s often corrupt Ministers would have cooked up a scheme to bump up the figures in order to attract more international aid. But the timing and the extent of the announcement was odd to say the least.
Haiti’s political elite often does its country no favours. And it hardly helps that the country still has no President and no government that can implement the huge changes Haiti needs if it’s to crawl out of the pit of poverty it has languished in for so long. The government that can count 316,000 dead and calculate 20 million cubic meters of debris can’t lift more than a fraction of that debris after a full year. It can’t provide Haiti with more than two fire stations to cover the entire country. It can’t provide a single Haitian village,town or city with a sewage system.It can’t provide a primary health care system that keeps disease and epidemic at bay.Its communications Minister didn’t have a satellite telephone after the quake. I asked my Haitian producer where Haiti’s elite would be on the anniversary of the quake. “Florida”,he said,without missing a beat.
Haiti is an unlucky country; prey to disaster and upheaval. It surely deserves a better future than its past.It sits at the bottom of almost every index on health,infant mortality and poverty in the Western Hemisphere. Cross the border into the Dominican Republic and you think you’ve reached Western Europe. Other Caribbean countries make education their priority.They gamble on their children.I’ve seen some astonishing children here,like four year old My Kinlay,who lost both his arms in the quake but has learned to feed himself with the stumps that remain,defying the predictions of physiotherapists.Like the two hundred earthquake orphans at one school whose resilience has astonished those who work with them. Haiti needs a new class,a new breed of men and women,who have come through catastrophe and survived and thrived and can raise Haiti up to a proud place in the league of nations.