By Daniel Tillias, Pax Christi Port-au-Prince Program Coordinator

PC Port-au-Prince colleagues
PCUSA staff members Manuel and Amy (each end), with PC Port-au-Prince colleagues, Jean Rony, Herode, and Daniel Tillias

Two days after the earthquake I wrote a reflection on what a major earthquake could teach all the world. As a peace worker and even more a dreamer, my wish was that the same sorrow that opened the wallet of people from all over the world in the first week after the disaster could also from that moment open their heart to advocate for no more war and more social justice in the world.

Two years later we did not see much change in the big picture. Haiti is still waiting for global reconstruction, people are still under the tent and there is much to do. Unfortunately, during the last two years, all around the international scene, we have heard a lot of violence and it seems the world did not learn the lesson.  However, from the lot that still needs to be accomplished, we see in the different displaced camps a total resilience of people who seem to live only for hope.

If there is one good thing the earthquake did for our chapter in Haiti, it is with no doubt the opening of Cite Soleil in people’s mind as a neighborhood that needs attention after longtime abandon. Many are the visitors who come to what I call our sanctuary of hope, where the smile and dream of the children inspire the best to everyone. While things seem still difficult, our chapter celebrates the new community center building, we just built a wonderful community garden, we have now our girls soccer team, we have the first peace taptap, and so much we are grateful for while there is so much need to take care of.

I know some people feel despair because of not enough being accomplished after so much has been put into relief, but I respond that it would be just unimaginable if it were not for the support Haiti received. It will take some time before we fix everything here in Haiti and I asked people to be patient. It is still the right time to do what is right which is remembering Haiti is a neighbour that we need to be good with.

5 thoughts on “HAITI: Two years after the earthquake, a short report from colleague in Haiti

  1. It will take some time before we fix everything here in Haiti

    Well, it took the Haitian people just about two centuries to create what they have now. Presumably it would take another two centuries for them to create something different from what they have now. The question is, do they want something different?
    That’s what you have to think about if you want to “fix everything.”
    Go back to 1945. Germany, for example, was very much more ruined than Haiti is today. And Haiti was very much less ruined than it is today.
    Have you noticed that every single time Jesus says in the Gospel, “your faith has saved you,” the person involved has just physically DONE something. For Jesus, faith is a very, not a noun. Similarly with the Haitians. For the first time in 200 years, they have to start doing something positive. The question you have to focus on is: what is that keeps the Haitians from having faith?

  2. I am sure you won’t take what i wrote seriously. And You probably won’t print it. Which is too bad for the Haitians. Their spiritual problems need spiritual solutions.
    I publised a history of the Caribbean Islands, some years ago. I suggest you read it.

  3. Bon zanmi Daniel,

    Don’t give up on your dream! I believe in you!

    I will be in Haiti from feb. 15, at mathew 25, then in dos palais until feb. 21. I would like to see my good friend!

    Our flight arrives at 4:20 pm. On feb 15. Check with sister Mary. What is your phone number?

    Dan Burns

  4. Response to Daniel Tillias “Haiti: Two years after the earthquake”

    Once again I thank Daniel for being so perceptive and writing such a beautiful piece about the earthquake. My experience in going to Haiti for over 28 years and my wife Adele for over 30, is that Haitians have a deep spirituality and faith in God and can be our teachers. For a responder Daniel to admit they wrote a history of the Caribbean and then respond the way they did is hard to believe. Does the person who responded not understand Haiti for 500 years and especially since 1803 has been the victim of international powers? The land was raped by France of mahogany, gold, indigo, sisal and other resources. In the 17th-18th centuries the people were held in slavery. Thomas Jefferson placed an embargo, followed by Europe, on Haiti in 1806. In 1826 France tried to retake Haiti but instead forced a 150 million gold franc loan on Haiti. In 1915 US Marines invaded and occupied and controlled the country until 1934 but before leaving formed the Haitian army.

    Is this enough to show you that Haiti has been made poor from the outside – impoverished, unjustly and poorly treated? There is much more! However the people have survived nevertheless just like they did the earthquake. Daniel is a good example of survival, persistence, vision, and creativity and can do without the righteous bashing. Instead he is looking for modest support and a helping hand, as are the poorest of the poor people of Cite Soleil. No need to go back to the carpet-bombing of Germany in 1945. At 85 I know all about the Marshall Plan and the tremendous help that was given to Germany by the world. If only we could do the same for Haiti. The people have the will!

    Bob DellaValle-Rauth
    Coordinator Pax Christi Virginia

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