Interview with Rene Lako, humedica Country Director for Haiti: “Hope in Action”

by RBÜ/SRI,  2010/05/25

The experienced development worker René Lako and his wife Marianne have been directing the diverse project work of humedica in Haiti for several weeks now. René Lako was born in the Netherlands and in an interview he told us why he has hope for this country and which are the challenges he has to face during his work.

humedica Country Director René Lako attending the distribution of 2600 shelter kits to needy families; the campaign has been financed by the German Federal Foreign Office. Photo: humedica

There is the internationally popular idiom of “the grain of hope”. What does this grain look like that brings hope back to Haiti?

I personally gain hope every day from the fact that there are so many hard-working people here in this country: relief organisations, mission stations, individual persons, but also the Haitians themselves, who are doing everything for a better future.

They want to develop their country and have recognised the opportunities this terrible disaster is providing. By seizing these opportunities they could also put a stop to the immense poverty which had been the disaster before the actual disaster.

Being the humedica Country Director, I draw a lot of confidence from this effective cooperation of international relief workers. And also cooperation with the diverse government agencies is definitely functioning well.

And since our organisation is focussing on medical issues, we also have the opportunity of changing the lives of individual persons on the long term: if you have ever seen one of the victims with an amputated leg walking on his own again, you have seen Hope in Action.

What are the most serious problems the people in Haiti are facing at the moment?

Well, we are confronting a great number of challenges every day which actually affect everyone: the Haitians who have lost loved ones, their homes and their property.

“Hope in Action”: the focus of the work of humedica is currently being set on rehabilitation measures. Photo: Jens Großmann for humedica

No matter how often you are told about it, nobody can actually imagine what it means to lose everything. Although in the meantime there are many tent cities where survivors have found some shelter, it is still terribly hard on them.

Lacking access to water, sanitary facilities, and access to what has been taken for granted in every-day life is an additional burden to all the loss and mourning. We also need to address economic problems when talking about the future of the country.

I think that unemployment is a problem which has not been solved yet. In the face of the income situation, living in Haiti is almost unaffordable.

Well, and then the wet season has started some weeks ago and a new storm season is approaching. I hope that this country will not be hit as hard as has been the case in some of the previous years.

Do you see a way of preventing the situation of poverty and the lack of prospects that has prevailed in the past, and perhaps also of changing the political insecurity in future?

Since I am the head of a large project of a Non-Governmental Organisation in a foreign country, I will be careful with expressing political opinions. But it is commonly known that the largest political and economic problems of this country are caused by corruption.

Returning to ethical values such as honesty or transparency would be important preconditions for political stability.

I think that Haiti is at the starting point of a long reconstruction process in all fields and areas. Furthermore, I am convinced that also the churches of the country could play an important role during this development.

Sometimes it seems that the grain is dying under the ground. Or maybe the soil is dry and parched for some time; but when the rain comes, growth will follow. I hope and pray for a good harvest in this country.

René, thank you very much for this interview and for the work you do in Haiti. We would like to wish you and your team all the best and God’s blessings and protection.

The interview was held by Ruth Bücker and translated from English to German by Steffen Richter. Please find further information about Rene Lako at: www.lakomission.org

Hope is slowly returning to Haiti. humedica offers help by means of diverse projects. Photo: Jens Großmann for humedica

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