Catholic Church of Montreal > News > Topics > Haiti after the earthquake

Haiti: between optimism and the harsh reality

January 12th marks the second anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti.  With its passing, new concerns have arisen regarding the allocation of funds for the country's reconstruction.

Le Nouvelliste, citing the American website Counterpunch.org, has reported that very little of the 3.5 billion (USD) in aid given to Haiti has been utilized.  Specifically: "Nearly two years after the earthquake, less than 1% of the $412 million in US aid meant for rebuilding Haiti's infrastructure has been spent.  That number should be closer to 12%."  Similar reports and more can be found on the website of PBS, the American Public Broadcasting or on the CBC web site. Another site to look into: USAID.

For the individual Haitian, the news is as bleak.  Le Matin reports that as of August 19, 2011, the group World Organization for Migration indicates that the refugee camps show a decrease in population of 61% with the number of camps falling below a thousand. A disturbing amount considering the number of those deemed homeless has only decreased by 6,000 with a remainder 594,000 people.    

Wilson Jean, a native Haitian, now living in Sherbrooke, conveys his view in La Tribune that the current Haitian government may not be morally fit to manage the enormous allotment of funds for the refurbishment of this country.     

For its part, the Catholic Church is doing what it can to help in the reconstruction.

According to a June 2011 report by the Archdiocese of Montreal (in French), the work done in collaboration by various religious communities has been remarkable. There is basic care provided by the French Canadian and Haitian Jesuits on the border of the Dominican Republic, as well as pastoral and educational services in the capital of Port au Prince.     
In December, a delegation of Development and Peace (D&P), went in Haiti. In its report, the organization mentions that the Haitian National Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace has one of the strongest to voice criticism of government's reconstruction programs, denouncing it as corrupt. (Commission épiscopale nationale Justice et Paix, in French and in Créole).      

Unfortunately, there is little information on the archdiocese website of Port-au-Prince.  However, up-to-date information is available on Radio Soleil, a media supported by the Catholic Church.    
 
On this second anniversary, the words of Mrs. Conceptie Gervé, pastoral agent in Côte-des-Neiges area, originally from Haiti, incapsualizes the sentiment of caution and hope.      

"To see in this deadly earthquake an opportunity could be shocking to more than one. The reality is that to deny this as an opportunity, or to act upon the situation with questionable motivations, it to strengthen the bases that are crippling the democracy we already have, making this country dependent. May the memory and the conscience of the People awaken, so as to become active participants in their own new future."
       

Web links
 

In the Gazette, a report on the situation in Haiti
 
http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Haiti+turning+point/5965362/story.html  

A Haitian view of Haiti... from the State of New-York
 
http://www.haitiantimes.com/  

'Mini-historic' of the Catholic Church presence on the island (french)
 
http://haiti-reference.com/religion/catholique/  

Discover the Bible in creole, one of the two languages in Haiti with French
 
http://www.kreyol.com/creole-bible/bib-la.html     

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