Haiti after the earthquake

Haiti after the earthquake

January 12th, 2011 by Perla Trevizo in News

Staff Photo by Laura-Chase McGehee/Chattanooga Times Free Press Nahum Faubert, 28,recounts his experience of surviving the earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti, one year ago. He left Haiti and arrived in Chattanooga in September to begin working toward a bachelor's degree in business management at Tennessee Temple University.

Staff Photo by Laura-Chase McGehee/Chattanooga Times Free Press Nahum...

No governmental infrastructure, high crime, immense poverty, no education system, no health system. A cholera outbreak in full swing, 1.5 million people still living under tarps and one-third of children under the age of 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition.

That's Kerry Kelly's picture of Haiti one year after the earthquake that left more than 200,000 dead and close to 2 million homeless.

"But as depressing as this situation appears, there's an incredible opportunity today to build Haiti today," said Kelly, the executive director of the Chattanooga-based Children's Nutrition Program of Haiti.

A year after the 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, local organizations, churches and individuals continue to work in the Caribbean country -- the poorest in the Western hemisphere.

Groups of doctors traveled several times to Haiti to set up medical clinics, tend the wounded and perform amputations on those for whom it was too late to save limbs.

Locally, hundreds of thousands of dollars were donated. The Salvation Army raised about $40,000, while the local chapter of the Red Cross estimates more than $750,000 was donated by individuals, corporations, churches and schools in the area.

But many agree there's still a lot of work to be done.

"The country hasn't healed," Haiti native Georges Charles said. "It's still a disaster."

TIMELINE

* Jan. 12, 2010 -- 7.0-magnitude earthquake strikes about 10 miles from the capital Port-au-Prince. An estimated 45,000 to 50,000 people are killed and up to half of the buildings in Port-au-Prince and other hard-hit areas are damaged or destroyed.

* Jan. 19 -- Two Tennessee Air National Guard C-130 aircraft depart from the 118th Airlift Wing in Nashville, bound for Haiti.

* Jan. 20 -- A 5.9-magnitude aftershock hits Haiti.

* Jan. 20 -- Estimates of the dead reach 200,000; 250,000 injured and 1.5 million homeless.

* Jan. 27 -- An Erlanger Health System team leaves for Haiti.

* Feb. 2 -- The Tennessee-1 Disaster Medical Assistance Team leaves for Haiti.

* March 31 -- Dozens of nations and organizations have pledged almost $10 billion in immediate and long-term aid to help Haiti.

* Sept. 24 -- A sudden rainstorm sweeps the capital Port-au-Prince, killing at least five people.

* Oct. 21 -- A cholera outbreak is confirmed in Haiti.

* Oct. 25 -- The number of cholera cases rise to more than 3,000, including 254 deaths.

* Nov. 5 -- Hurricane Tomas hits Haiti.

* Nov. 10 -- 9,971 cases of cholera, including 643 deaths, are confirmed.

* Nov. 12 -- More than 12,000 Haitians are hospitalized and more than 800 people have died from cholera.

* Nov. 28 -- Haiti holds presidential and legislative elections.

* Nov. 30 -- The number of reported cases of cholera in Haiti rises to a little more than 72,000, including 1,648 deaths.

* Jan. 1, 2011 -- An estimated 810,000 people still live in 1,150 camps.

Source: Times Free Press archives, United Nations, The Associated Press.

A few weeks after the earthquake, Charles reunited with his brother in Haiti after 24 years.

REMEMBERING THE QUAKE

Nahum Faubert was at a neighborhood Internet cafe when he felt the floor under his feet shake. Then dust fell from the roof onto his head.

His instincts told him to get out of the building. He ran outside and saw a truck trying to stop but not being able to. He looked to the right and saw a house collapse to the ground.

He clearly remembers the 35 seconds of the strongest quake since 1770 in Haiti.

People screaming in the street. A house collapsed with the family inside. A church collapsed in the middle of a service.

And even though everyone wanted to help each other, the first and main concern was to know if their family members were fine.

A couple of days later, Faubert walked more than 40 miles with one of his brothers throughout Port-au-Prince. Surveying the damage. Seeing decaying corpses in the middle of the street.

He pauses as he remembers, then says he focuses on the positive, a man of hope.

"I don't see things how they are, but how they are going to be," he said.

Faubert, 28, was about to finish his bachelor's degree in social communication in Haiti before the earthquake. His plan was to eventually to come the United States to get a master's degree, but everything changed.

In September, a Chattanooga couple sponsored him to come to Chattanooga to finish his degree at Tennessee Temple University, but because the school didn't offer his degree, he switched to business management.

He still plans to return to Haiti and make a difference, he said, although it might be three or four years before he can do so.

He has been a youth minister in Haiti for more than 10 years and knows there's a lot of potential in Haiti's youth. They simply don't know it yet, he said.

A BRIGHTER FUTURE

Despite the number of people still living in tents, the damage caused by Hurricane Tomas in November and a cholera outbreak that has claimed the lives of hundreds of people, Haiti is heading in the right direction, some say.

"What we've heard a lot is that there's no progress. Maybe because we are a smaller organization, we have been able to make progress and there is hope for Haiti," said Jill Mairn, spokeswoman for the Restavek Freedom Foundation.

Restaveks are Haitian children, usually between 5 and 15, who are unpaid servants, often given away by families who can't afford to raise them.

The foundation, co-founded by Cleveland, Tenn., residents Ray and Joan Conn, identifies those children and works to get the child released to attend school, according to its website.

"While we lost some children, we've also added 143 kids to our program," she added.

IF YOU GO

* What: Children's Nutrition Program of Haiti Exhibit

* When: January 24 through January 30; 12 p.m. To 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 12 p.m. To 6 p.m. Sunday

* Where: Hamilton Place Mall Stage

* Information: 423-495-1122


WHAT'S NEXT

* The local organization Haiti Helpers is planning several trips to Haiti, including one in February. For more information, visit www.haitihelpers.org.

On Jan. 12, 2010, Restavek had 394 children in the Child Advocacy program and 111 were lost in the earthquake. Seven died when one of the partner schools collapsed, 50 moved and there are 54 the agency has not been able to find.

While progress may be slow in Haiti, Kerry Kelly says people should think of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

"More than five years have passed and parts of New Orleans are still empty and we are talking about the wealthiest country in the world," she said. "Haiti is basically starting to build their country from scratch with little experience.

"I think we need to have some patience with Haiti and continue to help them grow and become the nation that they can be."

Haiti will be a more mature country as a result of the earthquake, Faubert said, but its people need to change the way they think.

"Haitian people need to learn from this experience," he said. "We cannot change the past, but we can decide what do and make the future better."


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