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WLRN Sundial: 10 Years Later, We Remember The 2010 Haiti Earthquake

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(Note: Please understand that this article is 100% own by WLRN Sundial program.)

Ten years ago, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, causing apocalyptic damage in the capital of Port-au-Prince and surrounding cities.

The quake struck right before sundown, shaking Haiti to its core, destroying communities and taking the lives of as many as 200,000 people. A decade later, the country has not fully recovered.

Sundial devoted today’s program to the Haiti earthquake, how trauma still exists within the Haitian diaspora here, and the recovery efforts on the island. Host Luis Hernandez was joined by a panel of reporters and experts: WLRN reporter Nadege Green; WLRN America’s correspondent Tim Padgett, Professor Elhanan Bar-On, the Director for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian Response at the Sheba Medical Center in Israel; Miami Herald reporter Jacqueline Charles, who is in Haiti; and Dr. Marie Guerda Nicolas, University of Miami psychologist.

Here’s an excerpt of their conversation:

WLRN: Are there any remnants of the earthquake, anything that reminds you of the earthquake still in Haiti or has all of that has been erased by now?

CHARLES: The rubble is gone, but when you go by the national palace, it’s gone. When you go by a Port-au-Prince cathedral the ruins are still there and it hasn’t been rebuilt. And while you don’t see the tent cities in plain sight anymore, there are still tent cities. You just have to go off the main roads and see them. So we are constantly reminded of this quake. The rebuilding has been slow. Not a lot of it has been done. But at the same time, people sometimes forget that it was just 10 years ago that the capital was devastated.

What was the biggest frustration for you when you were there setting up? What was the biggest frustration?

BAR-ON: We landed in Port-Au-Prince on day three following the earthquake. And when you deal with these things, you’ll always be at a complete imbalance between the needs and your ability to fulfill these needs. So you turn off your frustrations very quickly. You don’t deal with your frustrations. You deal with what we call in disaster, doing the best for the most. You obviously change the way you treat patients. Disaster medicine is a profession. It’s a state of mind. You change your diskette. You cannot do the medicine you do at home in a tent in Haiti, both because of the magnitude and because of the resources you have. You will not be in a sterile environment so as an orthopedic surgeon, it’s a completely different way of treating [injuries.]

What have you heard, stories about the trauma? Is it still there? Does it still impact people’s lives a decade later?

GUERDA NICOLAS: Absolutely. There are things that happen in your life that are never forgotten and that becomes a central part of you. I don’t believe it’s only related to the 10th anniversary, but sort of every January, every 12th of the month comes for you that you begin to think about the overall impact that it had. I think oftentimes when we think about disasters and we think about trauma, we think about post-traumatic stress. But in this situation, there’s no post. We’re talking about a constant trauma because I can go around in Haiti right now and still see buildings that still have the quake on them. So those are a constant reminder of these experiences.

How do the Haitians in South Florida feel about their future? What role does the diaspora play in that?

GREEN: I feel like the Haitian diaspora has always wanted to be a part of Haiti and will always want to be a part of Haiti. It will be a matter of whether or not they are received. There is sometimes diaspora fatigue. And folks do check out sometimes. So it’s a balance.

We want to hear from you: Where were you on that fateful day? How did the earthquake impact your life? Share your story with us. Email: sundial@wlrnnews.org

It’s really our hope that one day Haiti will be able to achieve the heights that we know. We truly subscribe to the motto: unity makes strength. – Maika and Maritza Moulite

On the anniversary, I think of [my father] and all those still traumatized, still expecting another disaster to strike. – Fabienne Josaphat

Out of nowhere, we heard a big boom, then the house started shaking from left to right then collapsed. After the earthquake, I saw bodies in the streets, buildings went down, there was darkness because there was no electricity at all. My family and I became homeless, we spent months sleeping in the streets with strangers. My family and I moved to the Dominican Republic to escape the pain and misery. From there we went to the U.S. to seek a better life. – Werley Nortreus

Ten years later, people are asking what happened to Haiti? Where did the money go? Ten years later, Haiti is at a standstill. Men, women and children continue to die. Young men and women of Haiti are rising in greater numbers asking for change. The system must change. Haiti will not die. – Marleine Bastien

I flew from Fort Lauderdale airport and arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Monday, Jan. 11. My grandmother was to be buried that week. The next day, my family and I found ourselves in the epicenter of the worst natural disaster in the country’s history. A day we will never forget. – Will Loiseau

We were in Tallahassee for the first day of Legislative Session. We received an immediate phone call from then-Gov. Charlie Crist. The Governor was a great communicator and showed genuine concern for Haiti, and appreciation for Haitian American leadership. – Florida Representative Al Jacquet

WLRN producer Chris Remington contributed to the production of this episode.

Listen to the audio –> WLRN Sundial

Caribbean & World

National Youth Parliament moves into a higher gear

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Preparations are moving into high gear, as Grenada prepares to join the rest of the Commonwealth, in recognising Commonwealth Day 2020.

It will coincide with an expo and the hosting of the first sitting of the National Youth Parliament 2020.

The sitting scheduled for 9 March, follows the hosting of parish-based sittings, in 2019. According to Project Officer for the National Youth Parliament Programme, Deslyn Williams, preparations began two weeks ago. “Training is ongoing every Tuesday and Thursday, at the Youth Development Centre, most of them have the experience because they were selected from the Parish Parliament, so far everything is going really great.”

Youth Parliamentarians will make presentations based on the resolution: “BE IT RESOLVED, That the National Youth Parliament of Grenada endorses the Non-Biodegradable Waste Control Act 2018 as an effective means of regulating the use of such products; thereby reducing impact of the inevitable disposal of single-use plastics, Styrofoam, and other non-biodegradable products.”

Training Facilitator, Aleshia Allert, said the training will cover a number of areas. “What we really focused on is getting them ready for presentation, so topics such as public speaking, presentations that would persuade, looking at resolutions through the eyes of ministers of government and facilitating strong debates, all of that comprise of what we did so far.”

The parliamentarians-in-training said they are 80% ready for the Monday, 9 March National Youth Parliament sitting.

Participant Elon James said, “Preparations are going great, I have already started noting some key points. My logics and statistics, I am putting together. I am just waiting on my portfolio to put the final pieces together.”

Grenada joined the Commonwealth in 1974. Observed by the 53-member states of the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth Day is a celebration that is held on the second Monday of March every year.

Its purpose is to recognise the work of Commonwealth members and to promote understanding and cooperation on global issues.

Ministry of Youth

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Interruption in services at St David’s Health Centre on Thursday

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The Ministry of Health (MOH) informs residents of St David that services at the St David’s Health Centre at Belle Vue, will be interrupted from midday tomorrow, Thursday, 27 February 2020.

This is to facilitate an important assessment and to rectify electrical fittings and supplies to the facility, as well as to ensure the safety of staff and patients.

The assessment will also determine the proper functioning of the equipment at the facility.

Clients are therefore encouraged to utilise the services as early as possible.

The MOH Community Health Services sincerely apologises for any inconveniences this may cause.

GIS

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Grenada on importation transmission watch

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The outbreak of COVID-19 has now spread to various countries. At this point, there are NO COVID-19 cases in Grenada.

However, in view of the current situation, Grenadian health authorities are expanding their surveillance to cover a wider area of travel to affected areas.

This means that the island is on what is referred to as Importation Transmission Watch (ITW). These include assessing exposure to risks, monitoring events in the region, and providing pre-travel training. Pre-trip risk assessment, education and preparation can markedly reduce the likelihood of an incident disrupting normal everyday life, trade and travel. One person while on a holiday/leisure or business trip can result in risk of transmission by virtue of contact importation.

Apart from mainland China, these include the following countries and cities: Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and Italy. Health authorities are also advising people to avoid non-essential travel to these areas, and are reminding those who choose to do so that on their return, they can be quarantined for a maximum of 14 days.

The Ministry of Health advises people who develop a fever, cough or shortness of breath within 14 days of visiting the above-listed countries, to contact their family doctor and the health authorities on 440-2649 during regular working hours (i.e., 8 am to 4 pm), 417-1079, or 417-2562 after regular working hours, weekends and holidays.

These travellers are advised to refrain from visiting health centres or the casualty department in the first instance.

The general public is reminded to take the necessary precautions for the prevention of respiratory infections:

  • CLEAN: Clean hands often by washing with soap and water or using alcohol hand rub.
  • CONTAIN: Contain germs by staying at home if unwell; do not go to work or school until your health condition is improved. Do not visit patients in hospital if you are sick.
  • COVER: Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze and not into to your bare hands.
  • BIN: Used tissues immediately. DO NOT leave used tissue laying around as it can lead to contamination.
  • DO NOT sneeze or cough into your hands as you may contaminate objects and people that you touch.

GIS

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