January 12th, 2012.
For most the day simply symbolizes the end of the second week of January, a time when the fervour with which we pursue our new year’s resolutions begin to wane.
But for Haitians around the globe and those with a personal, emotional, intellectual or even business tie to the country, January 12th, 2012 marks the 2nd anniversary of the devastating earthquake that stole the lives of an estimated 230,000 and left 1.5 million homeless, ravaging the island nation’s epicenter, Port-au-Prince.
Since the earthquake Haiti has heard many promises made, some kept and many broken. Political change has taken place with a new president, Martelly, democratically elected.
Billions of aid dollars have been pledged, yet much still remains in limbo or poorly distributed. Cleanup of the rubble and housing continues to be the main focus, but has been slow moving as the government and international aid organizations struggle to stop the further spread of the cholera outbreak.
We have bore witness to both the devastation and the resilience of Haiti following the earthquake. We have seen the progress; the streets cleaner, new road signs and evidence of a slowly growing job market. However, we have also witnessed the frustration from both sides as international organizations search to find ways to reconstruct and locals attempt to rebuild.
Everyone we meet in Haiti shares a story of loss from the earthquake. The quake serves as a pivotal point in the country’s recent history. Yet the nation should not be defined internationally or locally by this one natural disaster. Though poignant, it is only one piece of the history of Haiti-one that is a complex culmination of beautiful resilience and devastating injustices.
On this day of remembrance of those who lost their lives we are reminded of the fragility of life and the strength it takes to rebuild.
More information on the reconstruction efforts in Haiti: