January 2010 was a strange time in my life. It was a time of reflection, excitement, and grief. Summer 2009, I graduated from my Masters program with no job in sight. After months of job searching, I decided to travel to Haiti in hopes that an extended stay would allow me to reflect upon my career and life. My good friend, Ashley was also in need of a soul searching journey, thus began our plans to travel to Haiti for three months. We both were excited; it would be Ashley’s first time out the country and it would be my chance to really explore my family’s culture. Originally, Ashley and I planned on traveling on January 12, 2010, but my grandmother who was to arrive on January 11th, wanted time to prepare the house for our stay, so she urged us to switch our flight to January 17th. A couple of weeks before Ashley and I were scheduled to travel, I started have two reoccurring dreams: that I was at the airport with Ashley and our flight was delayed and that my grandmother and people in her neighborhood were hiding in a basement because of chaos outside. I dismissed these dreams as nervousness about my first extended stay outside the United States.
On January 12, 2010, I was sitting in my den watching television, when my brother said “Lisa, an earthquake hit Haiti!” My heart dropped, I quickly changed the channel to the news and just felt sadness for the country and worry for my grandmother. I have no memory of what I was watching or wearing, all I remember are my feelings. I was frantic, anxious, and obsessive in the hours following the earthquake. My heart pounded and stomach flip flopped, as I kept watching the news and refreshing my news feed on Twitter and Facebook. I had a morbid sense of longing; I wanted to be in Haiti with my grandmother and I imagined myself helping people. After searching and many phone calls, we eventually were able to get in touch with my grandmother. My grandmother luckily was outside when the earthquake hit and her house suffered minimal damage; just a crack along side the house. She was going to be evacuated out the country along with other American citizens. Unfortunately, many in the country were not so lucky to experience minimal damage or have the opportunity to leave the situation. The physical and psychological anguish is one that still lingers to this day.
After my grandmother’s evacuation to the United States, my sisters and I went to visit her at her house. There was so much I wanted to ask her, but I was hesitant. I wanted to know what she did with all the food, clothes, and supplies she brought to Haiti and I wanted a visual of what the country looked like from her perspective. There was much I wanted to ask, but all I really got out of her was a lesson on why children should always listen to their elders (a reaction to me not scheduling my flight for Jan. 12), relief that Ashley and I were not in Haiti, because we could have been hanging out in the neighborhood and gotten hurt, and a brief mention on the destruction. Underneath her commentary, I got a sense of fear and sadness. During that visit, she would randomly say, “Can you feel that?” After hearing her say things like that, I never probed deeper into her experiences; I could only imagine.
The following days and months after the earthquake, I naively thought I would still travel to Haiti and my flight would not be cancelled, just rescheduled. I had this strong desire to go and help. Despite my flight being cancelled, I found a way to help the country, through the Association of Haitian Physicians Abroad. For three months and many sleepless nights, I assisted in sending medication and health professionals to the country. Though I did not travel to Haiti for my soul searching adventure, I was able from afar to realize as part of the Diaspora, I wanted to do all in my power to help Haiti reach its full potential. I have kept that promise and spread news of Haiti via social media, classroom presentations, and charitable involvement. I continue to stay connected to the country by my travels to Haiti in October 2010, December 2011, and January 2012. I also am using Haiti as a case study for my dissertation and have hopes to travel to the country in June 2015. With collective and collaborative efforts, the country will improve.
January 12, 2015 at 4:53pm marks five years since the earthquake. I wanted to write something inspiring and thoughtful, put I could not put words to paper. So I decided to compile recent information about the earthquake from around the web. Below you will find general commentary about what happened on January 12, 2010, non-profits and NGO updates, newspaper insights on the recovery process, information on donation questions, and more. Hopefully as you browse through the commentary, you can gain more insight on what happened five years ago and what needs to happen in the future. Feel free to share in the comments any additional links or thoughts.
note: click on the titles to go to the websites
New York Times: Haiti Earthquake Multimedia
New York Times: Perspectives on Haiti’s Earthquake
New York Times: Surviving the Haiti Earthquake Part I (video)
New York Times: Surviving Haiti’s Earthquake Part II (video)
Commentary from Organizations
Reed Smith Law Firm: Mobile Clinic in Haiti Delivers Hope
Catholic Relief Services: After the Haiti Earthquake, CRS’ Mountains to Market Program supports Haitian Farmers (video)
World Vision Youth: Haiti Earthquake – 5 Year Update (video)
Global Communities: Five Years Later: Haiti’s Progress Before and After the Earthquake
UN World Food Programme: Haiti: 5 years after earthquake, UN warns progress threatened by poverty, inequality
Save The Children: After the Earthquake, Fostering Young Leaders Through Education in Haiti
USAID: Earthquake Overview
Amnesty International: Haiti: Five years after devastating earthquake ten of thousands still homeless and desperate
World Bank: What Haiti Taught us all
World Bank: Infographic: Haiti Five Years after the Earthquake
World Bank: Voices of Haiti (video)
Goal Global: Haiti Five Years On: Empowering Communities (video)
ATD Fourth World: Nonstop, we keep up the struggle (video)
USAID Health Finance and Governance Project: Haiti Takes Steps to Rebuild Its Nursing Workforce
Catholic Relief Services:Haiti Quake: Photo Then and Now
Commentary on the Recovery
Lisa-Marie Pierre (I wrote this last year, but I still have same thoughts): 11 Things to reflect upon on the 4th anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti
Miami Herald: Haiti: Emerging from the rubble
Miami Herald: Haiti: 5 years after the earthquake (video)
NY Daily News: 5 years later: Remember the 2010 Haiti Earthquake
Associated Press: Haiti better off 5 years after quake, though still troubled
Center for Economic and Policy Research: Haiti By the Numbers, Five Years Later
Haiti Then and Now: Haiti: Five Years After
Huffington Post: Lessons Unlearned in Haiti As Memory of the Earthquake Fades
US Department of State: Haiti Still Needs our Help
Where Did the Money Go
The Wall Street Journal: Five Years Later: Where Did All the Haiti Aid Go?
The Guardian (this is an old article from 2013): Haiti’s earthquake generated a $9bn response – where did the money go?
Washington Examiner: Former Haiti official: We have no idea where all that recovery money went
New York Times (this is an old article from 2012): Where did the money go?
Where to Donate
Haiti Then and Now: Where to Donate: Haiti Relief Funds
General Information on Haiti
New York Times: Haiti
World Bank: Haiti
Haiti Embassy: Haiti
An urban planning PhD student finding peace in creating a balance between the mind, body, soul, & environment.