So, today is Friday. Tonight most people in the western hemisphere will be beginning weekend activities such as having a nice quiet dinner in a fancy restaurant, getting hammered by bourbon or tequila shots at a local club, going to the cinema to enjoy one of Hollywood’s current blockbusters or maybe just hanging out with friends and/or relatives at home.
That’s what Friday nights are supposed to be about right? But not in Haiti, not tonight anyway.
While you are reading this lines at your local Starbucks or in your nice and cosy home, with a hot beverage (or maybe stuffing junk food into your mouth) and wearing enough winter clothes or covered in blankets, people in Haiti are out in the streets, but not having a good time.
Most of them are in the dark because power is out. They don’t have communications to get in touch with their boyfriends or girlfriends, parents or kids, actually they fear they might be trapped in one of the thousands of collapsed buildings that fill the landscape in Port-au-Prince, in need of help they can’t provide.
They are also afraid because the main prison was destroyed, hence about 4000 criminals roam freely in the city, looting what little food and supplies that have actually made it to Port-au-Prince. The aftershocks every couple of hours do not help Haitians to be calmed either.
People in Haiti begin to face the awful truth, not because they heard of the size of the destruction on the news but because they have started to notice the smell of the decomposed bodies coming from underneath the rubble, the bodies of their loved ones and friends. Not all the bodies are within the collapsed buildings though, thousands of them lie in the streets, making the view even more appalling.
Those still alive are thirsty and hungry because they haven’t had anything to eat since Tuesday, not only because they don’t have any money, but because there isn’t any food or kitchens… no restaurants, no markets, everything just fell apart.
Every now and then they see a journalist with a camera crew, but he doesn’t seem to have any food, he’s not delivering bottled water, he has just arrived to the country on a private flight and is trying to tell this dreadful story of pain and suffering to the whole world.
They grow desperate for assistance, but they don’t even hear it coming… they are just lost, homeless, injured and frightened.
Well, now you know how they are doing over there, but don’t get sad, don’t feel bad about how lucky you are to be sitting where you are and not in that small and devastated country. There is not much you can do; the damaged airport is overwhelmed by air traffic and the seaports sustained severe damage during the earthquake therefore not every aircraft or vessel has been able to deliver help.
If you have made a donation to the Red Cross, Oxfam or any other organization, or if you already took food and/or supplies to your local authorities you’ve probably done all you can do at this particular moment.
Hugh your kids, kiss your woman and be thankful you’ve lived another day comfortably, away from that shattered country. Be aware though, because nature’s rage might someday burst upon you.
January 15th, 2010.