It’s been five years since the tragic earthquake in Haiti that left much of Port-Au-Prince and the surrounding areas in ruins. Many Haitians gathered today to remember the devastation at a Catholic Mass just after dawn. The new church they gathered at was built alongside the National Cathedral downtown at the capital. President Michel Martelly presided over the ceremony with other dignitaries and Haiti residents. The burial area is being developed as a memorial for those who lost their lives. “The life of the people changed in 35 seconds that day,” Martelly said before a small audience of government officials, ambassadors and journalists. “But in the days that followed, solidarity came from everywhere.”
“This is the anniversary of the day I can never forget,” Gladys Lambard, who lost her husband and sister in the earthquake, said as she walked into the church arm-in-arm with her 14-year-old daughter. “The sadness of that day marked me forever.”
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In January 2010 at around 5 p.m., a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti and collapsed concrete buildings all over the island. More than 300,000 people were killed, however that number still hasn’t been confirmed because of the countless bodies and destruction. Directly after the biggest natural disaster of modern times, those of Haiti who weren’t severely injured helped pull victims from the wreckage. People from all over the world gathered in support of rescuing Haiti.
According to report, the United Nations says Haiti has received more than 80 percent of about $12.45 billion pledged by more than 50 countries and multilateral agencies since the disaster, a combination of humanitarian assistance, recovery aid and disaster relief. The capital is awash in new construction and the number of people in the cramped shantytowns and tent camps has dropped from around 1.5 million after the quake to around 80,000.
But Haiti also remains a desperately poor country facing many of the same challenges as before the earthquake. The World Banks says more than 6 million out of roughly 10.4 million inhabitants live under the national poverty line of $2.44 per day. Meanwhile, a political standoff between Martelly and parliament that has delayed legislative elections threatens to undermine the country’s political stability. Protestors in Haiti have clashed with police in a demonstration calling for the resignation of President Martelly over long-delayed elections. This is a major political crisis, as Haiti will be without a functioning government if no agreement is made. Similar to the protests in Ferguson and New York City over slain Black men at the hands of police, tear gas and water were sprayed at the protestors to disperse them.
“Enough is enough,” Martelly said during his speech, addressing the opposition groups orchestrating the street protests. “Give the country a chance, in the name of the all the victims who died five years ago.”
We are continuing to pray for Haiti.