January 12th is a date etched into Haiti’s history, and into the minds of every Haitian who will never forget the fear and panic they felt on January 12th 2010 when an earthquake at 7.1 on the Richter scale hitHaiti. The devastation was all-encompassing; houses and office buildings collapsed, reduced to dust and rubble killing those inside. An estimated 230,000 lost their lives in the disaster.
This morning we had a time of reflection with our staff here, taking time to share moments of pain and trauma but also to share positive outcomes and stories of lives spared and people saved. Many had lost loved ones themselves, or suffered damage to their homes, and it was incredibly moving to hear them share their personal experiences.
After two years the scars still remain, both physical and emotional. It has been a difficult couple of years and many are still traumatised. It was encouraging to hear some say how it has changed their outlook on life; ‘It has changed the way I think about my priorities, the things I want to do. I now realise that the most important thing we have been gifted is life, and I want to spend as much time as I can with my loved ones’.
There is still a long way to go and progress has been slow, encountering many obstacles on the way to recovery with the cholera outbreak and political instability adding to the challenges faced by international agencies responding to the disaster. Yet Haitians are strong and resilient, and are committed to working hard to build back better.