Today, Jan. 12, 2020, we commemorate the earthquake that decimated Haiti 10 years ago. On Jan. 12, 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake shook Haiti to its core. The earthquake is estimated to have killed over 300,000 people and millions were left homeless. The capital city of Port-au-Prince was reduced to rubble and the country was immersed in a sense of hopelessness.
Billions of dollars were funneled into the nation to help Haitians, however, to this day there are still tent cities and the world has ignored the island and its people. According to the United Nations Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti, $13.34 billion was allocated to Haiti between the years of 2010 and 2020. According to that same report, 6.43 billion was dispersed between the years of 2010 and 2012. Nine percent of that was allocated to the government of Haiti.
Haiti still finds itself in the tight grip of poverty and the people are suffering every day as a result of the disparity in regard to the disbursement of these dollars. Change has come slowly to Haiti and experts profess what is needed is a transformation.
Protests demanding the resignation of the current prime minister of Haiti, Jovenel Möise, have bled into 2020. This political unrest is in response to anemic economic growth coupled with a loss in the value of the local currency, and inflation has grown 20 percent. These factors create more of a burden to an already stressed population.
Haitian singer Rooby Man recalled leaving Haiti in 2010 a few days after filming a music video. “I went to Haiti to film a music video. After the video I left for Chicago and my two friends who ran the production company that we filmed the video for called me to update me. That was on Sunday the 10th. Two days later both of them died while editing the video. It was a very sad moment for me,” he told rolling out.
Haitian-American filmmaker and actor Tirf Alexius traveled to his home country to document the devastation after the earthquake. He shared his thoughts and feelings on the 10-year anniversary of the tragedy with rolling out.
“As a Haitian living in America, the earthquake shook me to my core. I felt my childhood memories had been destroyed. I immediately traveled to Haiti because I personally wanted to be involved in relief efforts,” he lamented. “When I arrived, I saw a level of faith I didn’t know existed, and desperation I had either blocked out or ignored. The people wanted more.
“Ten years later, the Haitian people are demanding more. There still [is a] lack [of] opportunity. While some infrastructure has been improved, there’s still no viable economic engine that serves the majority. Clean water, health care, education are still major battles. I believe it’s a moral responsibility of those in the diaspora to push for a Haiti where its citizens come first. Then, and only then will there be meaningful change,” he said.
View a clip from Alexius’ film Lakay that documents his trip back to Haiti after the jump.