24.3.2010: The earthquake which had turned Haiti upside down by
Fern Georges, Haitian Environmental Journalist.
Like hundreds of Haitian entrepreneurs,
I was greatly affected by 12 January’s very deadly earthquake.
Listening to a Haitian evangelical radio station, waiting for
two visitors while taking a nap in my cosy little office at the
Haitian Environmental Reporters Network (REHPE), I heard some
weird noise and felt some strong vibration which lasted about
thirty seconds. In fact, I thought that my office building
was collapsing from exhaustion because it was very old - some 120
years old. It usually shook up whenever a big car or truck
passed by. All of a sudden, I had an idea firmly rooted in my
mind to exit my place by jumping out of the first storey, with my
bare feet, which I did! Being on the first floor, I
was questioning my business colleagues about what happened. They
told me that it was an earthquake.
Everybody was shouting, especially women
not being able to control their emotions. A wide mass of dust
filled in the air. People became dirty. They looked ugly with grey
powder finely spread over their faces, heads and bodies. It
was a big disaster. Several houses, schools and state buildings in
my area were destroyed. With a lot of caution, a few minutes
later, I had decided to re-enter my still-standing work place to
rescue some important materials such as electronic items, office
supplies, files etc… Fortunately, I was by myself in my
office. All my employees had already left. So I could feel guilty
if one of them had to die or be hurt because of me.
On my way back home, I
was just counting corpses, running people, demolished residences
and broken vehicles. My soul was quite invaded by dismay, anguish,
anxiety and fear.
Unlike my office
building, my house was not affected by the quake because it was
built on the rock – in the mountain.
Losing my agency, my job, some close
friends - and feeling sorry for many people, I had to cope anyway
with my new living condition. Luckily, I had joined as an
interpreter, guide and assistant in the Mental Health Department of
the International Medical Corps (IMC), a well-known organisation
which came to Haiti for the International Disaster Relief Team /
Haiti Emergency 2010 program. Hence, I met Dr Peter
Hughes, one of my supervisors, an Irish psychiatrist based in
London who had politely asked me to write this article for
his blog. Meanwhile, I have been looking for assistance to
re-establish my business organisation – which is just a pain in the
Finally, as an Environmental journalist,
it is obvious that the 12 January natural disaster had completely
turned Haiti upside down. The thinking and acting way of the
Haitian people along with their international good friends and
sponsors must change by developing a new sense of responsibility in
The quake had publicly unveiled the
nudity of Haitians and their foreign partners. Nothing really
important has been done in Haiti for the last 206 years such as a
lack of a good infrastructure system, no project had been
implemented with a long-lasting development and management goal and
Of course, Haitians cannot help
themselves. Billions of dollars have been spent in Haiti.
Nevertheless, for decades, the islanders have been splashing around
an awful misery under the monitoring and/or with the agreement of
their international fellows. Let’s say that on the one hand,
Haiti has always been located in a very troublesome ecological
region. Thus, the earthquake was just a fact – not an event!
Awareness was raised and warnings were given by many
specialists from different skylines.
Since last year, the Haitian
Environmental Reporters Network (REHPE) has been carrying out an
Environmental Education Campaign throughout the country for which
it has gotten no support of any kind! On the other
hand, we can only count the days we are living on the island. So
wisdom is a must – what about common sense?
Fern Georges, Haitian
See also 'A Plea for
Haiti' by Sienna Miller, Global Ambassador,
International Medical Corps