Editor’s Note: This blog was originally written for Huffington Post by Petra Nemcova
As a survivor of Thailand’s tsunami, I know first-hand how natural events wreak havoc on lives. The challenge is to pick up the pieces and rebuild.
Through my charitable work with the Happy Hearts Fund, I have learned that each natural disaster is unique, varying in response and recovery times. I see the great outpouring of love and concern for the men, women and especially children affected by these tragedies from people all over the world. I also see not enough of a sustained response, and at the same time unrealistic expectations about how quickly individuals, regions and nations can rally back.
This is the case with Haiti as well. Three years after a powerful earthquake flattened Port-au-Prince, shattering nearby towns and cities, Haiti’s rebuilding efforts remain in the public eye. The January 12th commemorative services attracted foreign dignitaries, the international press and former U.S. President Bill Clinton, a great supporter. But this sad anniversary was also the occasion when others stated that it is now time for Haiti to stand on her own because “three years is long enough for recovery.”
Haitians couldn’t agree more, as that is what they want too. But it doesn’t happen overnight, or over three years. It takes a sustained response and the empowerment of people of the country.
I visited Haiti for the first time in 2007, and since the earthquake I have made too many visits to count. I have seen all that’s been done to rebuild. Each time I arrive, I see new progress. With assistance from the international community and private individuals, conditions for many Haitians are now better than they were three years ago.
The 12th of January, 2010, gave me the opportunity to help create happiness in the midst of the tragedy, igniting an enduring commitment to this beautiful country and her people.
I spent the three-year anniversary of the quake in Port-au-Prince, overwhelmed by the heaviness in the air. The weight of that occasion — difficult to capture in words — pressed on me throughout the ceremonies commemorating the lives lost, too swiftly and too soon. I felt the heaviness in the mood of people on the streets and saw it sadden the face of President Michel Martelly.
Muspan school children sending their love.
Ecole Union des Apotres at Cite Solay. Caroline’s school.