Loyal Polo Lifestyles readers know our deep connections to Haiti. Our publisher hails from the country and this publication began as an avenue to shine a bright and positive light on Haiti, its people, and yes, its national polo team. The last several weeks have been tough to witness.
The 7.2 magnitude quake that struck the southern peninsula of the country on August 14 was like a gut punch, or more accurately, like an illegal gut punch after having already been knocked down and flaying on the mat. The government was already in crisis following the assassination of the nation’s president, Jovenel Moise, on July 7. Then the quake hit.
At press time, more than 2,200 people have been killed, 12,000 injured, and another 300 plus are still missing. Haitian officials from its Office of Civil Protection have said 600,000 people are in need of emergency assistance and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates 500,000 children have limited or no access to shelter, clean water and food. Then there are the recent reports of armed gangs attacking convoys deployed to hard-hit and hard-to-access areas. And fears loom of a similar cholera outbreak that killed more than 9,000 Haitians after the 2010 quake. It’s enough to bring a people to their knees, both literally and mentally.
While the recent earthquake was less destructive than its 2010 predecessor, the country is still recovering from that previous disaster. In fact, the narrative of the two quakes and the country’s political crisis uniquely converged at the ad-hoc National Palace (Moise’ private residence) above the hills of Port-au-Prince.
Moise did not and could not inhabit the official presidential residence in the government district; it was irreparably damaged in the 2010 quake and has yet to be rebuilt. The impacts of the 2010 quake reverberate to this day – and that includes in the recovery of the recent earthquake.
After the 2010 quake, aid poured into Haiti with such generosity and rapidity that questions surfaced about whether it all indeed went for the intended purposes. The American Red Cross made headlines when NPR and the organization ProPublica released a damning report five years after the quake, asking where the nearly $500 million raised by the charity for relief efforts went. The Red Cross made efforts to account for each project supported and dollar spent, but the damage was done, especially for donors whose heartfelt charity felt betrayed.
Many lessons were learned from that experience and since the August earthquake, the focus has not just been on raising dollars for relief efforts, but on doing so in a way that ensures contributions reach the ground