For Haiti's ten million and for the Diaspora's four million, last year's earthquake was the shock of a lifetime. We pause today to remember, reflect and mourn. In a brief minute, Haitian friends and families from all over the world were brought together in worry for each other's fate, and in wonder at the natural forces that rule us all. Hundreds of thousands of lifetimes were ended, and hundreds of thousands more became immediately preoccupied with the plight of the survivors. After a year now, we are still worried about Haiti's fate and the plight of the survivors because the condition of both seem to be essentially unchanged, if not worse.
Individually, Diaspora leaders, community organizations, schools and colleges, businesses and government agencies did what they could in the first months, mostly by themselves, with their own money, their own logistics, their own networks of emergency suppliers and shippers. Of course, the costs were grueling, added to the heavy burden of remittances that continued unabated. All during this time, even up to today, no government or charity came to the Diaspora with requests to lead the way; this despite the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars were available and some of it, in the expert hands of Haitians abroad, could have accelerated rescue and recovery had they only been asked for help. After a year, no government or charity has offered a satisfactory explanation for their exclusion of Haitians abroad. Meanwhile, giant contracts for every imaginable relief and development project continue to be awarded to others, most of whom do not know Haiti, nor the culture, nor the social and political system that regulates progress every inch of the way.
In late March, while corpses were yet being discovered and then buried in mass graves, a Federation of individuals and organizations was created, intent on unifying the Diaspora for the cause of Haitian recovery and the well-being of communities abroad. The burden of working in the absence of many Haitian colleagues whom we will never see again, has been great. Their memories contribute to the motivation, their foreshortened lives compel us to carry on.
Haiti has not been saved; far from it. And as criticism of the world's humanitarian response sounds loudly and constantly over the airwaves and in private conversation whenever we return from the poor country, a change in attitude may be occurring. Non-Haitians are beginning to realize that Haitian involvement in Haitian crises is essential, and it makes little difference whether those participants are nationals or emigrants. Recent meetings with foreign officials confirm that the once-confident first responders are struggling to repair a country they don't quite understand. At the same time we offer them counsel, we remind them that actions speak louder than words. The Diaspora has been ready and willing; it is time for those who have authority and resources to put their offers on the table. Next year's earthquake remembrance should not be clouded by the obstacle of exclusion. As a practical matter, and ultimately, the Haitian Diaspora will be among the major cast of characters in Haiti's recovery.
We wish the survivors long life, peace and tranquility. Haiti is too good a country to waste, too good a democracy to hold back, too long in existence not to claim its rightful place on the world stage.
MR. STUART M. LEIDERMAN
P.O. Box 1055, Concord, New Hampshire 03302 USA
ph 603.776.0055 firstname.lastname@example.org
To see pictures on Boston.com please visit: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2011/01/haiti_one_year_later.html
CHES still strongly believes that it can help the country most by sticking to its mission and we are currently working with CHES Haiti on business plans. This Sunday(January, 16, 2011) at Roxbury Community College from 4-9 PM, CHES will be part of a Boston city-wide event to commemorate the lives of the victims affected. Come out and support. For more information, visit the link. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1015763152&sk=friends#!/event.php?eid=115043008566339