On this day, just two short years ago, tragedy struck and turned Haiti’s world upside down. The impact of the earthquake on January 12, 2010 reverberated deeply throughout the country – forever changing each Haitian’s life. More than just homes and office buildings were destroyed. Over 300,000 lives were lost. Each of these 200,000 had a name and a face. They left behind sons, daughters, siblings, friends and loved ones to mourn their loss.
We knew then that much like the aftershocks that continued to shake the ground for weeks following the quake - there would be several significant “shocks” that would rattle the already weary nation. The work to rebuild would be difficult and would necessitate a long-term vision. Rubble removal was slow and cumbersome, forming a team of international donors and government officials to oversee the millions of dollars in aid has been sluggish and ill-effective at best, long-term housing solutions continue to be a concern for the thousands that remain in tent cities and cholera arrived unexpectedly. It swept through the city and countryside - taking nearly 7,000 lives and infecting over half a million individuals to date.
Amidst all of these trials, local Haitians are beginning to ask “Vè ki lè?”, or around what time [will the change come]? Two years of talk and slow-progress. The time is now and the Lambi Fund of Haiti is working with our partners to build a stronger foundation in Haiti from the ground up.
In order to make this call for progress a reality, several calculated strategies are in order:
- Continue to expand rural agriculture and increase local food production. Lambi Fund currently has 17 projects ranging from goat breeding to community farming microcredits to grain storage underway in efforts to strengthen crop outputs and local food systems in Haiti.
- Provide technical training and capacity building to grassroots organizations so that they gain the skills needed to successfully and sustainably manage the business enterprises they are launching.
- Build latrines and rainwater cisterns in rural communities to help stem the flow of cholera while advocating for a comprehensive and improved water management system.
- Hire new staff and attend trainings from specialists in the field to enhance Lambi Fund’s core capacity in order to amplify programs and to work in partnership with communities on a more comprehensive and penetrating level.
- Bring human rights to the forefront of rebuilding. The right to shelter, food and fair wages need to be prioritized. Once there is a respect for people’s needs, we as a global community can more effectively mobilize to deliver results.
- Let the people of Haiti dictate their own future. Give a voice to the poor majority and provide leaders of rural communities with opportunities for active participation in the decision-making and priority setting process for rebuilding Haiti.
These are not pie in the sky objectives. These are obtainable goals that can be achieved through strategic partnerships and empowerment of the people. While it may seem like a longshot to dream of equal rights and improved livelihoods for the many living in poverty, we at Lambi Fund live the hope. We live to see people struggling make it. We live to see that everyone has a fighting chance – that those who are down and out can one day sustain themselves.
The people of Haiti are strong and are carrying this immense struggle gracefully. I urge you to stand up and stand with the people of Haiti: Advocate for the rights of all Haitians and demand that their voices are heard. You can join Lambi Fund in helping to build a better tomorrow – this is the way to honor the loved ones lost. Let hopes soar and Haiti rise again. The time is now.
In remembrance of our beloved brothers and sisters,
Marie Marthe Saint Cyr