Monday, September 3, 2012
Meet Norly Germain, URI Visiting Research Scholar
Haiti: 31 months after the quake, 400,000 people still live in makeshift camps.
Whenever world news organizations mention Haiti in news reports, it seems as if it is only to focus on the newest catastrophe whether a natural disaster or political turmoil. After the earthquake of January 12, 2010 struck Port au Prince and killed more than 230,000 people and left 1.5 million people homeless, Haiti became the number one topic in national and international news. This attention lasted for about two months and then Haiti disappeared off the news pages. Lots of attention and support were pledged on behalf of Haiti, but the population still struggles to survive and to have roofs above their heads. Billions of dollars have been raised in the name of Haiti while the population cannot satisfy even their basic needs. Who could believe that 31 months after the quake, 400,000 people still live under tents in makeshift camps despite all the international aid that has been brought or sent to Haiti as well as the presence of more than 12,000 non-governmental organizations (better known as NGOs) on the ground?
During my recent trip to Haiti, I was surprised to see how slowly the effort to re-build the country has gone. Millions of dollars are spent in building temporary housing, which are not secure enough to protect the population against seasonal hurricanes and storms. Anarchic houses are built over and over again despite the authorities’ prohibition. In addition, the Haitian people still need to deal with basic life difficulties since food and water continue to be a luxury and there continues to be electricity and transportation problems. While education is provided sparingly, I noticed an increase of health care facilities in the country and road constructions. There also seems to be a better communication and understanding between the government and the population. To encourage the Haitian authorities and the international community to effectively rebuild the country and to help the earthquake victims to finally live a decent life, Haiti needs to be part of the international news on a daily basis. The Haitian people’s voices need to be heard. The same problems still exist and the people's needs and their expectations should be satisfied.
Norly Germain is a Haitian citizen who received a B.A. and M.A. in Industrial Engineering in Haiti and in France. Norly is now working on his PhD at the University of Metz in France and is a visiting research scholar at URI. The goal of his work is to propose a system of healthcare infrastructure for Haiti to reduce infant and maternal mortality rates, which are the highest in the western hemisphere. Along with Professor Roger LeBrun, Norly will take part in the URI Diversity Week panel on Thursday, October 4 from 12:30 to 1:45pm to talk about Haiti beyond the scope of Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains.