I was very happy to see that Chile could take care of itself, from deploying its own search and rescue teams and military personnel to help its trapped/injured people after the earthquake, for once I saw something different from the struggling third world country with its hand out and coming from a “third world country” it made me warm inside. I also appreciated that President Michele Bachalet was a constant face of reassurance to her people, it wasn’t used as an opportunity; the people were truly the concern. What a breath of fresh air. I’m not saying that aid was not warranted, but their first thought was not to look for it, their first thought was to do it themselves.
What can Haiti learn from Chile?
Everything. Chile even had its own fund-raisers, minus a prominently known American representative. It had its people helping themselves. They knew the dangers of them living on a fault line, they knew that they had been faced with disaster before and they knew how to come together. They waiting to assess the situation before releasing information on the death toll, on the areas affected and they weren’t quick to put their hand out.
Haiti being rebuilt is huge, it’s going to be a work in progress but if it is rebuilt the way it was then it will be a waste of time, and another generation will be devastated and left to pick up the pieces. Regulations on housing need to be imposed and punishable by law, granted people are poor but the poor are the ones that lose the most when there is a natural disaster, regulations are there to protect the people and prevent the loss of lives and while the upfront cost (concrete panels etc) will be more expensive it will be less than the cost of a life.
Aside from regulations the people of Haiti need Education. They are on a fault line and all of the people of Haiti need to know what that means. The frequency of Earthquakes may not be steady but they need to know what to do in case of one, and they need to understand why regulations need to be put in place. Basic first aid practices need to be well-known as well as the military (I haven’t seen shit of the Haitian military or police force; they supposedly have one) on how to cope with a natural disaster or even high pressure situations. They also need to have safe houses, shelters and community centers; places where their people can seek refuge and get information.
In Haiti, the loss of lives was preventable and reprehensible. Not only do we have to help them get out from under the rubble, we have to teach them how to take care of themselves. Sometimes guidance is needed, a light touch as it were. Haiti has the capability to be self-sufficient, the government (one of the most corrupt) needs to step up or step down and the people of Haiti need to be adequately represented, not only in times of misfortune but ever day.
It is my sincere hope that Haiti will pull themselves out of this with dignity and perseverance and the next generation of Haitians will be more educated and conscious of who they are as a people and what they have the capability to endure more than any other generation before them.