1.5 Million Still Homeless in Haiti

In a city of 3 million people roughly half are still homeless four months after the earthquake.

Why is a country, once rich in natural resources, a nation whose slave population rose up and defeated Napoleon’s army for independence, and given aid for generations by rich nations like the United States and France, still steeped in such poverty?

The answer is simple: Corruption.

There is corruption at every level of government. There are oppressors and the oppressed. And the people with social status to do something about it? Their idealism is often overcome by greed.

Even the relief aid workers who have gone— too many have succumbed to temptations. Too much talk, too much skimming, and not enough work getting done.

According to this New York Times editorial, only 7500 of the 1.5 million left homeless have been moved to a resettlement site. Not even a permanent home.

The cameras are gone. The news attention is now fixated somewhere else. (On the gulf oil spill.) The American publics attention, like that of a mosquito, is looking for the next story that bleeds.

$1.5 billion in aid was given. About $1000 per person displaced. [In a nation where the average family makes under $200 annually] And yet no one has a new place to live. Tents? Yes. Homes? No.

7500 people resettled. 1,492,500 still sleep on the ground tonight. Mothers will lay down their babies on dirt, under a tarp with your countries name on it in tent cities that would make your knees buckle when you see them.

I’ve heard snarky Americans say, “Why is Haiti our problem?” Or “Won’t our help just further the problem?

Haiti is our problem. We have funded the corruption. We have turned our attention away from the corruption there… we’d prefer to not think about it. We have stood by and gotten rich off of their natural resources. We have gleefully paid unfair wages to their workers for generations so that we can buy socks at $2.99 for six pairs.

And while we wear their socks their children sleep on a piece of cardboard under a tarp tent with “USAid” flapping 12 inches above their face.

Shame on us.

Why can’t Haiti fix its own problems? Why can’t people just move? Why can’t they just go get jobs? Why can’t they rebuild their own homes?

My reply to that is plain: Why don’t you go to Haiti and discover the answers to those questions for yourself. If the problem is so simple– why not go and fix it?

This much I know. This I can assure you. One day a poet will rise up from the squaller of a tent city and cry out:

How long, how long must we sing this song?

One day the shame of our inaction will get to us. We will pay $100 to watch this poet pronounce shame and guilt on us for our inaction to a stadium of people who nod their heads in agreement.

While your children sleep safely in their beds tonight I want you to think of this song…

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in Ahwahnee, California.

1 comment

  1. Hey- Your post kicked my butt. I’m frustrated that I’m not more involved. The U2 Video connected with me. I want to figure out how to get back there in the fall.

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