By Dr. Chad Audi
Recently I wrote about the urgent needs of Haiti’s citizens after a deadly earthquake devastated the impoverished country, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. Today, nearly a month after the quake, a lot still needs to be done to provide shelter, food and medical care for people who saw their homes literally crumble all around them.
The recovery work has been steady and ongoing, but an estimated one million Haitians remain homeless. They’re camped out in makeshift shelters as the debate between the Haitian government and its international aid partners continues over how and where to shelter the quake victims. The Haitian president says at least 200,000 tents are urgently needed; others say a more long-term, cost-effective solution is more desirable. In the meantime, the U.S. and other aid groups are sending Haiti more than 10,000 rolls of durable plastic sheeting that can be used to shelter up to ten people per roll.
As the debate continues, another major concern is looming. Haiti’s rainy season is quickly approaching, which could result in the further destruction of buildings and the spread of serious diseases. The images of families living in makeshift tents, consisting of bed sheets propped on sticks, are absolutely heart-wrenching. The need for temporary, durable shelter is imperative in order to provide some sense of safety and protection. I know that a relief effort of this size is extremely difficult and complicated, but the lives of Haitians must be placed first and foremost.
As a testament to human spirit and resilience, there are glimmers of “normalcy” emerging in Haiti. Adults are selling fruits and vegetables on the street, and children have returned to playing games. There is hope among Haitians. Let’s keep them in our prayers.