We were fortunate to have breakfast on the deck overlooking the city. What a wonderful view and such nice weather. We went to the world Vision National Office in Port-au-Prince. Although not far, it was a slow journey, but apparently that was not heavy traffic, just the usual traffic. I cannot help but be impressed by the colours and energy of this city.
After a security briefing, we had a discussion with Paul-Emile Cesar who works as an assistant to the National Director. It was great to see Paul-Emile again. We had first met him on our first trip to Haiti, where he was our first World Vision contact following the earthquake – he was quite a welcome site indeed!
When asked about the longer term effects of the earthquake, Paul-Emile said that the earthquake had such a great impact that people in Haiti divide their lives into the period before the earthquake, and the period after the earthquake. Many people have overcome the trauma that resulted from the earthquake, but are reminded by the occasional tremor that everything which can be built can also be lost in a few seconds. It has caused Paul-Emile and many other to focus on what is more important in life. In may ways, the great destruction has created a opportunity for new beginning. It has been a period of great destruction but also great renewal. Many people stepped up after the earthquake and did great things, and these people are an inspiration. Unfortunately there are others who were so affected by the earthquake that they have not overcome the trauma.
Paul-Emile was asked a question we often hear – when we have sent so much money to Haiti, why is there not more progress. He first reminded us that problems in Haiti did not begin with the earthquake, but were there long before. Issues with education, infrastructure, water, power and health. The devastation from the earthquake greatly magnified these existing challenges such that in many cases, the country must begin from scratch. Since the earthquake, a major focus was placed on removing the rubble, and I could see myself that this has been quite effective. There has also been major efforts to increase access to education and to primary health care. While many issues remain, significant progress has in fact been made in some key areas.
We then met with Jean-Claude Mukadi, National Director for World Vision Haiti. He was asked what FreddyLink means to World Vision Haiti. He commented that FreddyLink is very important. It is not just about the resources that FreddyLink brings to World Vision Haiti, it is so much more. FreddyLink plays a very important role in telling the story of what is happening in Haiti, and in particular in giving a voice to the children in Cobocol. While the media has moved from the earthquake on to other issues and disasters, FreddyLink can provide on-going information on the progress made both in Cobocol but also in Haiti. He also explained the importance of FreddyLink and child sponsors in Fredericton in influencing the lives of the children in Cobocol. The gifts, letters, skype links, all these connections that we make between Fredericton and Cobocol, are very important in bringing a sense of hope to the children of Cobocol, who are the next generation. It truly has a transforming effect on these children and their families.