I was published in the Angelicum Nth, 2009-2010 December-February issue. Here it is.
The Tragedy in Haiti
By: Joshua John M. Lipana
Millions of people the world over have voiced their grief over the massive loss of life in Haiti due to the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that hit it on January 12, 2010. It is estimated that around three million people were affected by the Earthquake. 230,000 confirmed dead, hundreds of thousands more injured and it’s estimated that a million Haitians have now become homeless.
In the immediate aftermath of the Earthquake, the country of Haiti was under a cloud of chaos, the government had ceased to function for a significant amount of time, communications was down and vital infrastructure needed for the recovery had ceased to exist. Hospitals were destroyed, roads were unusable and the capital Port-au-Prince like other places in Haiti was in tatters.
Due to the massive amounts of death, Port-au-Prince’s morgues almost instantaneously became full. Dead bodies had become a regular sight in the streets. Corpses buried in the debris began to decompose and smell because of the heat and humidity. The head of the Israeli ZAKA International Rescue Unit delegation to Haiti, Mati Goldstein, paints a very vivid picture of the calamity in Haiti “Everywhere, the acrid smell of bodies hangs in the air. It’s just like the stories we are told of the Holocaust – thousands of bodies everywhere. You have to understand that the situation is true madness, and the more time passes, there are more and more bodies, in numbers that cannot be grasped. It is beyond comprehension.”
Rescue and Recovery
The sympathy from governments, individuals, celebrities and aid-organizations resulted in the mobilization of massive amounts of resources to be given to Haiti, however due to the damage Haiti received during the Earthquake, aid could not be quickly distributed to people, this resulted in sporadic amounts of violence amongst the Haitian people, which only further delayed the proper distribution of aid. Rescue workers and doctors found the stories of violence discouraging, so much so that some would halt their activities at night.
Aid however did eventually reach many Haitians, and the international community has pledged hundred of millions of dollars to help Haiti rebuild its devastated country. The E.U, the U.N and the U.S have all pledged sustained support for this endeavor.
A Deeper Issue
Some have suggested that there is a deeper issue that should be tackled. Foreign Aid and a significant U.N presence was already present before the Earthquake, yet even then Haiti remained as the most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere. Keith Lockitch, a fellow from the Ayn Rand Institute commented that, “What the tragedy in Haiti should make us realize is just how important industrial development under capitalism is in keeping people as safe as possible from such events.” Haiti’s economic restrictions on the private sector and its lack of industrialization are being blamed by a significant amount of commentators for the lack of development, which results in its inability to cope with natural disasters.
Despite the overwhelming support from the international community, Haiti’s recovery will be determined primarily by its own people. Whether it breaks its long history of ineptitude and subsistent poverty will be determined by them. Millions of people the world over who sympathize with their plight are praying and wishing them the best. After all the aid and moral support has been given, the world can only hope that Haiti recovers from this calamity and goes on to prosper.