Some anniversary…

What is it about a year that gets everyone’s attention?

Today marks one year since the earthquake in Haiti and the media coverage is intense. The front page of every newspaper I’ve seen this morning is running a Haiti story. Last night, the CBC spent an hour looking at various angles of the earthquake and its aftermath.

Frankly, we did the same thing; I spent all day yesterday doing various media interviews on the progress we’ve made.

The question is the same everywhere. What have we (collectively) accomplished in 365 days?

The answer is elusive. Much has been accomplished – in our case, we’ve made repairs to our hospital, built a supplies warehouse (unheard of in Haiti), and have sent 5 teams of healthcare workers to heal patients and continue our teaching of our Haitian clinical friends so they have the skills and tools necessary to carry on without us – our ultimate goal.

And yet, much needs to be done. More than a million people still live in “temporary” camps – abhorrent under any circumstance. Millions (maybe billions?) of dollars are tied up with the Interim Commission – a level of accountability & oversight that is understandable in a policy sense, but which in practical terms, has only increased the sense of frustration among the Haitian people.

So what to do?

Seems to me that 365 days is as good as any number to take stock of a situation. But so is 364 and 366. The point is, this is a long-term project and one-year later is just that; a point in time.

The question shouldn’t really be “what have you done?” but rather, “what are you doing?” In my opinion, it’s the work that matters and the measure should be “how engaged are the Haitians in your work?” Are you working for them, or with them? Big difference, particularly in Haiti.

Truly engage the people of Haiti in the work you are doing, or in the work you are supporting, and I think you’ll find comfort in knowing that you’re doing something that matters.

One thought on “Some anniversary…

  1. Great post Peter. Perspective is everything. Just think if we lived in a world where each country was left on its own to sink or swim and there was no international relief or financial aid. Progress may be slow in Haiti, but at least there’s progress and a reason to remain hopeful.


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