EARTHQUAKE AND CHOLERA VICTIMS HARD TIME CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS
(Defend Haiti) - By Samuel Maxime
PORT-AU-PRINCE - For more than a half million people who will spend their second Christmas in tents after their homes were leveled in the January 12 earthquake and the hundreds of thousands affected by the cholera epidemic, Tonton Noel did not visit them.
A man says "how can we celebrate Christmas when we're living in bad conditions under tents." A girl says she lost her mother and father, a woman lost her husband and children without parents roam the street each waiting for a change in fortune since last Christmas feel that celebrating this year is not a possibility.
These people call on President Michel Martelly for real solutions for their situation on Christmas. They are aware that the government is spending more than $10 million [US] on gifts for the population, but they cry that the gesture is not an effective step in solving their conditions in the short term or long term.
The gift distribution did not reach everyone that needed the cheer. Street children, orphans with no place to go say they were told that they could not receive the gifts. For cholera victims, the gift of health and reparations has not been fought for by their president.
It is estimated that 700,000 still live in insecure public spaces where sanitation and social resources are nearly non-existent. Non-governmental organizations are still uncoordinated in their efforts to bring humanitarian relief which has amounted to very little and far between to survivors.
The government has been slow to come to its feet. President Michel Martelly saw two prime ministers rejected by lawmakers for reasons that have put blame on both sides of the government powers. Only a fraction of the rubble from the earthquake of 2010 has been removed.
In eighteen months of the Interim Haiti Recovery Council (IHRC), chaired by former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, $4 billion was said to have been disbursed since the summer of 2010, but the Haitian government and "Friends of Haiti" continue to struggle with lack of transparency and surpluses in corruption.
A cholera outbreak compounded problems before the previous Christmas in October 2010. Killing 7,000 people since its inception into the Haitian water source by United Nations peacekeepers, the disease has spread throughout every corner of the island including the Dominican Republic.
It was best said by Oprah Winfrey who visited a camp for internally displaced persons earlier in December, "it's like the earthquake happened yesterday."