It’s been a year since an earthquake toppled much what was standing on the island of Haiti and have yet to dig out from under it all. Maybe they never will. But while they aren’t making much a dent in the rubble or reconstruction around there, their overall faith in God is stronger than ever.
Haitians have long been known for fervent, rather idiosyncratic faith. A majority are Roman Catholic, but various Protestant churches have made strong inroads, while the deepest rooted faith here may be in voodoo.
On the eve of Wednesday’s anniversary of the January 12, 2010 earthquake that killed more than 220,000 people and made homeless about one in 10 of the population, Haitians say they are more devout than ever.
“The earthquake increased faith for many people. Many returned to their faith,” said Francoeur Roland, 32, a plumber attending the open-air Mass at the cathedral.
Asked what was he was praying for, Roland, wearing a white coral necklace, answered: “That this doesn’t happen again.”
Yes, that god did such a great job of stopping it the first time. I guess that means that god really wanted all of Haiti to lay in waste for some mysterious reason obviously unfathomable to the puny human mind. People can always find a reason to excuse their god when assessing the damages, can’t they? It’s never his fault; it’s always his ineffable purpose…
Eder Charles, a gatekeeper at the cathedral complex, said the entire choir, which had been in rehearsal, was crushed and that bodies still lie under the rubble. Haiti’s Catholic archbishop was among the other victims that day.
Charles said his prayer was for “something to change.” What? “Everything. We are praying for the country to change.”
I can’t keep my own country’s history straight, let alone be knowledgeable about the Republic of Haiti’s, but I found an article from last January detailing some of the economic history there and the end result. It makes for some grim reading and makes me wonder just what kind of change Charles thinks is actually possible.
Waiting at the city stadium for Franklin Graham, son of Reverend Billy Graham, Beatrice J. Delievre said religion helped her believe that the natural disaster visited upon her country, the mass deaths, and overwhelming poverty, were not cause for despair.
“If all Haitians were not killed on January 12, then there is hope. Those who died, this was their time. But for those alive, there is hope,” she said.
What Haitians have lost faith entirely in are the human powers of their political class.
At the moment when Haiti most needs leadership, the country finds itself in yet another round of political turmoil, with candidates from a first round of presidential elections squabbling over who should enter the second round.
Many here blame a lack of political vision for the inability to put Haiti back on its feet.
Not only has there been almost no rebuilding, or restoration of services, but barely any of the rubble has been cleared from earthquake sites — including the collapsed presidential palace.
“Those are men and mankind is weak,” Delievre, 29, said. “You can’t put your trust in mankind, only in God. God can do everything.”
Begging the question then.. if he can do everything, why hasn’t he cleaned up Haiti? Why hasn’t he turned the rubble into food? Why hasn’t he cleaned the water? Why hasn’t he put more effort into altering humanity so we care more about each other and work more towards worthwhile problem-solving since it’s clear he’s can’t be counted on to do any?
Problems as massive as Haiti’s can’t be solved in a day or a year by a god or anyone else, but I’d still much rather put my trust and faith in human beings than some invisible thing that does nothing. Humans are at least trying, even if they don’t really know where to begin.
Edit Jan 14/2010: NPR has some comparison images up of Haiti in the aftermath and now a year later. Not a lot of difference between them.