Two years ago today an earthquake lasting only 35 seconds nearly destroyed the nation of Haiti.
Two years ago today, at 4:53 pm an earthquake lasting just over half a minute devastated Port-au-Prince, killing at least a quarter million, injuring hundreds of thousands more, and leaving, still two years later, more than half a million homeless in and around the Haitian capital.
Two years after the earthquake a cholera epidemic has sickened more than half a million people and killed as many as 7 thousand.
It’s not a pretty picture. There’s nothing pretty about Port-au-Prince.
And as an outsider, now home from Haiti since last spring, clearly, I know nothing about the real suffering of the Haitian people. I know nothing of a mother housing a family of ten children in a tent the size of some middle class American closets, nothing of another mother trying to quiet a baby crying in the dark, while torrential rain turns the ground beneath her tiny tarp to liquid mud.
How can I, a privileged white woman from a wealthy nation, speak of Haitian pain with any real authority?
The fact of the matter is I can’t. I have no right. I have no knowledge of not enough food to eat or no clean water to drink. I can only speak of what I saw having lived there for a year—
And what I saw—every 35 seconds—was a city in ruin. I saw the weary and sometimes teary eyes of human beings too stunned to grieve even these colossal losses.
Two years after the earthquake only half of the billions of dollars pledged to the Haiti reconstruction effort have been delivered. Two years after the earthquake rebuilding slows and sometimes stops because of conflicts regarding land tenure and issues of civil and political unrest.
Two years after the earthquake cholera still sickens 200 Haitians a day.
Every 35 seconds more are infected.
Every 35 seconds children are left hungry and homeless. Many die needless deaths.
Having been home from Haiti for a number of months now, I miss it more than ever—don’t seem able to get the place out of my stuck-in-middle-America mind.
I wrote a while back that leaving Port-au-Prince felt like an amputation—that Haiti was the phantom limb, the one I dream about, the one that calls to me at night.
I miss it terribly.
And I’m saddened that it took a mere 35 seconds to nearly destroy a city I hold so dear.
So today, two years after the earthquake, I will take 35 seconds to pray for Haiti.
Will you take half a minute of your own time and pray for the poorest country in the Western hemisphere?
Will you pray for peace in the mountains that circle Port-au-Prince this morning?
Will you take 35 seconds and pray for grace in Haiti?
And this evening when it rains or snows near your home, remember the Haitian mother, holding her baby in a make-shift tent—barely a tarp over a mud slick floor.
And rather than merely being thankful that you are warm and dry tonight, please take 35 seconds and donate to the ongoing reconstruction effort. Donate even 35 cents a day, so that one mother, father, child won’t need to endure the rain—the damp dark that soaks the soul of a person.
It’s up to you, at least in part.
Will morning in America mean breakfast for Haiti?
(To donate to Habitat for Humanity International’s rebuilding efforts in Haiti, click here.)