Signs of Hope, Glimmers of Progress
The Road to Hope visits Haiti 6 Months after Quake
October 11th in the Streets of Port-au-Prince
Returning to Haiti today, I was filled with pessimism. When there in June, I was literally sickened by the lack of progress I saw more than six months since the Quake. I expected to see more of the same - city streets clogged by rubble, mountains of trash, and the unforgettable and shameful spectacle of thousands upon thousands of tents covering the hillsides in and around the Capitol.
Well, sadly, much of that does remain. But, I was also surprised by some unmistakably encouraging signs...
Several of the main thoroughfares in the city were now more passable, the mounds of rubble and strewn pieces of buildings no longer piled all over. I noticed several large dump trucks moving about, and even an earth-moving hauler on the side of a busy street. I saw a number of construction crews in hardhats who were wielding shovels and working on destroyed buildings. There were a number of buildings boasting repaired concrete and newly-placed steel supports. Remarkably, there was even a brand new "Giant" supermarket open for business.
There also was a noticeable increase in security in the streets. This included a large number of white UN four-wheel drive vehicles, many filled with armed blue-helmeted troops. In this, my fourth trip to Haiti, I saw more armed, Haitian police, with some even in official-looking police cars, than I'd ever seen before.
And, everywhere, there were uniformed school children on their way to or from school. Their bright white shirts and red or green plaid skirts and pants crowded the streets. They added energy and a note of optimism and happiness to the urban scenes. We had lunch at an internet cafe which was packed, CNN on the TV, with servers bringing beer in frosted mugs.
Now, this is not to say that things are all better in Haiti. In fact, they remain embarrassingly awful - no question. Over a million people remain in tent cities, and only a paltry sum of the pledged international aid has arrived (including, as an aside, the long, stalled Haiti aid packager still tied up in the U.S. Congress).
But, today at least, there are some signs of progress. And, for that, we can draw some encouragement about hope for the future for the Haitian people.
Rich Harris, President & Co-Founder
The Road to Hope