This week marks the four month anniversary of the earthquake. I am sometimes asked about whether things are better now than in earlier months. The answer is yes and no. Certainly, many good and generous organizations from around the world have worked with the Haitian people to provide food, education for children, and health care. The acute phase of the earthquake aftermath is over, with severe injuries treated and bodies buried. Most people are now living in decent tents or under water resistant tarps. But there are mountains of problems that remain. Food, education, shelter, and health care are woefully inadequate. Tons of trash is heaped everywhere. Outside Port au Prince, where many have migrated for survival, conditions seem to be no better. Families have taken in relatives, usually into homes already bursting with family members that were already scraping by to survive. Food, jobs, health care-these are all in short supply. Organizations have stepped up their efforts as much as they can with their limited resources. See http://www.haitianhealthfoundation.org/ for the latest update from the Haitian Health Foundation in Jérémie, where they have gone beyond food and health care to starting another school to accommodate the children from PAP, as well as microfinance opportunities for some of the women. Partners in Health (http://www.standwithhaiti.org/haiti ), working north of PAP in Cange for many years, has extended their work in health care and is planning a new facility for the children who have been disabled. International Medical Corps continues to support the community clinics in PAP and the surrounding villages. The list goes on. One very hopeful sign is the huge effort by the international community to strategize about how to tackle the huge challenge that is post-earthquake Haiti. Many partners have set up a multi-donor reconstruction fund that is managed by the Interim Haïti Recovery Commission headed by UN Special Envoy to Haïti Bill Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister Bellerive. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “Our goal is not to rebuild. It is to build back better… a Haiti where the majority of people no longer live in deep poverty, where they can go to school and enjoy better health, where they have better options than going without jobs or leaving the country altogether.” So we can hope that the world and Haiti can succeed in this window of opportunity. The people of Haiti deserve it.
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