The aftermath of Sandy – Haiti cries out for attention

Two women in the flooded streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Up to 54 people have died, 20 are still missing, and thousands have lost temporary shelters set up after the 2010 earthquake. Photograph: Jean Jacques Augustin/EFE/Photoshot

Jonathan Watts in Port-au-Prince, writing for The Guardian newspaper report that, “Almost three years after the earthquake, 350,000 people in the capital of Port-au-Prince are still living in camps for displaced refugees.

Over the past three years, hundreds of these refugees have been forced to flee from homes destroyed in the quake, to tents which have now been ripped and flooded in the storm, and to other temporary shelters. While much of the attention is being focused on New York, these people are still waiting for new tents and food supplies. You’d think these people would be upset over the lack of concern for their plight, but no, according to Watts, “the mood is more one of resignation that a catastrophe in a poor country is less of a story.” Although Haiti was only hit by Sandy’s tail, 54 people died and 20 are still missing.

Prime minister Laurent Lamothe described Hurricane Sandy as a “disaster of major proportions”. Emmelie Prohete, a writer based in Port-au-Prince reckons: “This is not the first nor the last disaster we will have. We have seen so much worse that we are relieved there is only this.” What I personally found alarming was the fact that even before Hurricane Sandy, “Haiti had more cholera cases than the rest of the world put together. Almost 6% of the population have been affected and 7,500 people have died,’ writes Watts.

The contrasts leave a sour taste in your mouth. The impact of Sandy seems to have played out in two different worlds. For example, Haitians hear on the radio how New Yorkers have suffered as a result of Sandy and they sympathise. But the reports that electricity was slowly being restored in New York contrasts dramatically with the fact that some villages in Haiti had no electricity to begin with! Dieula Geffrard lost her home and her husband in the 2010 earthquake.

Sadly, the tent she and her four children moved into afterwards was destroyed by another storm the same year. And now her portable home has been inundated with mud. “My home wasn’t strong enough to withstand the floods, which took away my bed, clothes and shoes,” she says. Although she counts herself lucky to be alive, she cries: “This place has been forgotten. Please help us.”



Food for Life Europe director, Matej Poljansek is currently strategizing a response in cooperation with IDA and Food for Life Dominican Republic.

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Paul Turner

Paul Turner

Paul Turner co-founded Food for Life Global in 1995. He is a former monk, a veteran of the World Bank, entrepreneur, holistic life coach, vegan chef, and author of 6 books, including, FOOD YOGA, 7 maxims for soul happiness.

MR. Turner has traveled to 72 countries over the last 35 years helping to establish Food for Life projects, train volunteers, and document their success.

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