Five years ago today, hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives and so many more were injured and irrevocably changed after the earthquake that levelled Port-au-Prince in Haiti. It only took a few minutes but families and communities were destroyed or damaged beyond repair. I remember the aftermath so clearly and that odd feeling of being fortunate to not have been there when it happened. It’s hard to believe that was five years ago. I try not focus on what was lost. Instead, I choose to remember how I’ve witnessed the courage it has taken for Haitians to survive, to find hope again and rebuild.
Five years ago, the world mobilized and people from all walks of life, all across the world came to support the Haitian people. We see this too often… immediate response that quickly loses its momentum. For some, Haiti has faded from hearts and minds. But for others, the fight to make it a better place is still alive and well.
Most ask how Haiti has changed since 2010. Well, I have seen the streets reappear from the rubble. Buildings begin peeking up over the landscape again. And slowly but surely the infrastructure has been buzzing back to life.
The biggest change, the one with the most lasting effect, has been the changing relationships. Working not in front of, or behind, but along side of the Haitian medical staff to improve techniques and create a focus on education. That has been a tremendous accomplishment.
There’s no question about it, Haiti changed everyone on our team in some way. For me, I am a better surgeon because of Haiti. I truly believe I am a better teacher, a better father and a better husband because of Haiti. I have taken more than I could ever possibly give to Haiti. And I am committed to trying to repay that debt.
And for all our supporters, those who have donated, attended fundraisers, sent encouraging messages to teams on the ground… the change we’ve made was only possible because of you. I can’t thank you enough for that.
Haiti has changed.
Haiti is changing.
I hope that we can continue to be a part of it for as long as we are needed.