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Haiti, One Year On

January 13, 2011

There have been many natural disasters over the years that have captured the public imagination. The most recent examples were the Tsunami in Indonesia in December 2004, and currently there’s severe flooding in Queensland, Australia. This time last year, the world was in shock as news came in about an Earthquake in Haiti measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale. A country with an unstable infrastructure was going to be hit hard. And it was. As the days rolled on, the death toll rose to over 200,000 and out of the many stories of heartache and miraculous survival, I remembered the wise words, deep wisdom and shining compassion of Pat Robertson.

I also remember pledging money, as I’m sure many people did to try in a small way to ease the pain of our fellow man. So now it’s a year since that extraordinary event and how are the Haitians doing? Not very well, it seems. Lack of co-ordination between agencies and political wrangling has meant only 42% of the £1.4bn pledged by us has been spent and 1 million people are still living in tents among rubble. Oh, and let’s not forget there was a cholera outbreak, starting late last year that’s killed off another 3,000 and rising. I have no doubt it will take a long time to repair that level of damage, but the very human failing of miscommunication has not helped the situation one bit.

On the up side, I saw an article in one of my favourite free papers, The Metro on Tuesday. It was about a Haitian football team with a difference. All the team members had lost limbs in the disaster and they were taking part in a special tournament to mark the anniversary of the earthquake that changed their lives forever. A project called GIVE N GO, based in America took some football coaches to Haiti to train the locals. Their founder, Amber Tollefson said that because these kids have no family, soccer is what they cling to. It’s used as a form of escape from whatever they are going through. The national team was formed in August and they took part in the world amputee cup in Argentina in October. This, and the story of the baby that was pulled out of the rubble are the things I want to remember about this event as well as the unimaginable loss.

The human being is an extraordinary animal. Events like this prove it.

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