The happiness many Haitians exude in spite of their traumata and distressing events, was a cause for joy for Wolfgang Groß as well. Photo: humedica
humedica will continue to help in Haiti
The fourth year after the severe earthquake in Haiti has started, so we would like to look back on what has happened in the severely-damaged paradise since then and see what changes have occurred and what progress has been made. humedica managing director Wolfgang Groß has travelled to Haiti several times. Back from his recent stay there, he would like to share his impressions and personal experiences with us.
Only a few days ago, Haiti marked the 3rd anniversary of the severe earthquake disaster. You have been to Haiti several times since January 12th, 2010. What has changed about your emotional perception of the disaster since then?
On the one hand, it often bothers me how slowly everything seems to be moving there, although I know, of course, that it is difficult to restore normality after such a terrible disaster.
It is often the case that many organisations come to help at the beginning. After a certain time, however, they run out of money and many of them withdraw from the area. humedica is often among the last who remain since, with specific donations and benefits, we also engage in rehabilitation and reconstruction measures in earthquake areas.
Even after many years of working in the field of disaster and emergency aid, I am still touched by the people I meet on my project travels – such as a mother who has lost her child - people who have been personally affected and tell me their story. In my opinion, professionalism must never result in aid workers losing their empathy for those they want to help. On the other hand, of course, my compassion must not prevent me from doing my work. This is a balancing act my Christian faith helps me to deal with.
I well remember meeting a family of our sponsorship programme whom I got to know on my latest visit to the Haitian earthquake area at the end of November, 2012. The two school-aged sons of the family were totally withdrawn. They still seem to suffer from the earthquake experience both physically and emotionally and, surely, they also suffer from the narrow conditions of their makeshift flat that was still in a state of construction, dark and humid.
One of the boys had an eye disease and so I agreed with Jacqueson, our coordinator for the family sponsorships, that the boy would be taken to an eye doctor soon. Apart from that, I could give the family the hope for a change to their miserable housing conditions. Before long, humedica will build a house on the premises assigned to the family – a ray of hope or a better future.
How much is the “nightmare” of the earthquake still in people’s minds?
I have been to areas where, even after three years, you think that the earthquake must have happened only recently. I met people whose living conditions are still very difficult, some of them still live in makeshift tents without running water.
It is very interesting to compare both countries of the peninsula Hispaniola: The Dominican Republic is very developed, when you arrive at the airport you almost feel like in Europe, tourism is flourishing, there are beautiful hotel compounds and magnificent beaches. The standard of living is much higher than on the other side of the border, in destitute Haiti.
There you find yourself in the “poorhouse of the Caribbean”. For many years, Haitians were exploited by corrupt dictators, they have been through a lot. One cause of poverty is often a lack of education. I think that corruption and the lack of education are the two greatest obstacles to development in Haiti.
Is there any progress you can report on?
Of course there are many areas where different organisations have been involved in reconstruction efforts and much has happened there. If we focus on our building projects, the two rebuilt schools and an orphanage, these give evidence of specific help and our goal of sustainable development. Yet still, for a large number of Haitians the living conditions continue to be very difficult. This simply is a very long process because, within minutes, buildings were destroyed that had been constructed over many decades. Donations and stately benefits are simply not sufficient to finance the whole reconstruction.
The scars that this terrible disaster has left on the soul of this country will always remain visible. A disaster of such a scale is an enormous challenge for every government, even in better structured states like Italy, for example. Sustainable help means more than clearing the debris. People also have to cope with the events emotionally. Someone who has lost a loved one does not only need a new home, but also the compassion of other people.
And yet I am often amazed to see how happy people can be in spite of the most difficult conditions; be it in Haiti or in a refugee camp in Sudan. It is really admirable and encouraging to see that many of the people affected have not lost their ability to laugh, in spite of so much suffering.
Will the help of humedica continue, are there any concrete plans?
Yes, definitely. For our current project, a training school for nurses in the city of St.Marc, I would like to establish a system that will not only be supported by humedica as to its financing and content.
We would like to find nurses’ training schools in Germany and Austria as partners who are willing to cooperate with the school in St. Marc. Since humedica is a classical relief organisation, our financial means are limited. Even now it is not easy anymore to raise donations for projects in Haiti, even though Haiti has regained some attention around the 3rd anniversary of the earthquake.
Haiti will stay close to our hearts. On the premises of the nurse’s training school St. Marc we will reserve some rooms for humedica in order to have a basis there in case our help will be needed again – Haiti is repeatedly threatened by disasters like hurricanes etc.
All in all, I must say that it is always great when doors open up and we can provide concrete help. When we notice that God has prepared something. That gives us courage to continue. It is of great help to us that, here in Germany as well, we can meet for prayer in the mornings and see that God blesses our projects, among them those in Haiti.
If you would like to support the nurse’s training school project in St. Marc, Haiti, by means of a donation, you are welcome to use the account indicated below or fill in the online donation form. We thank you with all our hearts!
humedica e. V.
Reference "Nurse’s training school St. Marc"
Account 47 47
Bank Code 734 500 00
SWIFT-Code: BYLA DE M1 KFB