24.3.2010: The earthquake which had turned Haiti upside down by
Fern Georges, Haitian Environmental Journalist.
Like hundreds of Haitian entrepreneurs,
I was greatly affected by 12 January’s very deadly earthquake.
Listening to a Haitian evangelical radio station, waiting for
two visitors while taking a nap in my cosy little office at the
Haitian Environmental Reporters Network (REHPE), I heard some
weird noise and felt some strong vibration which lasted about
thirty seconds. In fact, I thought that my office building
was collapsing from exhaustion because it was very old - some 120
years old. It usually shook up whenever a big car or truck
passed by. All of a sudden, I had an idea firmly rooted in my
mind to exit my place by jumping out of the first storey, with my
bare feet, which I did! Being on the first floor, I
was questioning my business colleagues about what happened. They
told me that it was an earthquake.
Everybody was shouting, especially women
not being able to control their emotions. A wide mass of dust
filled in the air. People became dirty. They looked ugly with grey
powder finely spread over their faces, heads and bodies. It
was a big disaster. Several houses, schools and state buildings in
my area were destroyed. With a lot of caution, a few minutes
later, I had decided to re-enter my still-standing work place to
rescue some important materials such as electronic items, office
supplies, files etc… Fortunately, I was by myself in my
office. All my employees had already left. So I could feel guilty
if one of them had to die or be hurt because of me.
On my way back home, I was just counting corpses, running
people, demolished residences and broken vehicles. My soul was
quite invaded by dismay, anguish, anxiety and fear.
Unlike my office building, my house was not affected by the
quake because it was built on the rock – in the mountain.
Losing my agency, my job, some close friends - and feeling sorry
for many people, I had to cope anyway with my new living condition.
Luckily, I had joined as an interpreter, guide and assistant in the
Mental Health Department of the International Medical Corps (IMC),
a well-known organisation which came to Haiti for the International
Disaster Relief Team / Haiti Emergency 2010 program. Hence, I met
Dr Peter Hughes, one of my supervisors, an Irish psychiatrist based
in London who had politely asked me to write this article for his
blog. Meanwhile, I have been looking for assistance to re-establish
my business organisation – which is just a pain in the neck!
Finally, as an Environmental journalist, it is obvious that the
12 January natural disaster had completely turned Haiti upside
down. The thinking and acting way of the Haitian people along with
their international good friends and sponsors must change by
developing a new sense of responsibility in future.
The quake had publicly unveiled the nudity of Haitians and their
foreign partners. Nothing really important has been done in Haiti
for the last 206 years such as a lack of a good infrastructure
system, no project had been implemented with a long-lasting
development and management goal and so on...
Of course, Haitians cannot help themselves. Billions of dollars
have been spent in Haiti. Nevertheless, for decades, the islanders
have been splashing around an awful misery under the monitoring
and/or with the agreement of their international fellows. Let’s say
that on the one hand, Haiti has always been located in a very
troublesome ecological region. Thus, the earthquake was just a fact
– not an event! Awareness was raised and warnings were given by
many specialists from different skylines.
Since last year, the Haitian Environmental Reporters Network
(REHPE) has been carrying out an Environmental Education Campaign
throughout the country for which it has gotten no support of any
kind! On the other hand, we can only count the days we are living
on the island. So wisdom is a must – what about common sense?
Fern Georges, Haitian Environmental Journalist
See also 'A Plea for
Haiti' by Sienna Miller, Global Ambassador,
International Medical Corps