Today, January 12th, 2011 we mark the one-year anniversary of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that rocked Haiti, killing more than 230,000 people and leaving more than one million homeless. As someone that experienced the earthquake and its aftermath personally, this day brings back memories of tragedy and death that I wish not to remember. The unfortunate reality is that for many of the surviving victims of the earthquake, after one year, the situation is no better. Less than 15 percent of the rubble in Port-au-Prince has been removed, approximately 10,000 of the needed 100,000 temporary shelters have been built, and there still remain upwards of 850,000 people living in tents on the streets, sidewalks, and parks of Haiti.
There has been a lot of negative publicity recently about the efforts of the government and the charities in Haiti trying to help the victims of the earthquakes. I ask that you look at this negativity with a critical-eye, and try to see through the politics. Haiti is not an easy country to navigate. There is no doubt that we all wish the situation would get better more rapidly, but Haiti is a country of extreme poverty, with little infrastructure, and a fractured government that often creates red tape that is difficult to overcome. There is hope for change, however, even despite the recent controversy over the election results. Positive change in Haiti will not come quickly, but will take years, if not decades to accomplish. To that end, I ask that you keep Haiti in your mind, as it is your neighbor, and is a country of nearly 10 million people with the same hopes and dreams as every other person on this planet, a country that still needs our help.
Even at H.E.R.O., despite our accomplishments over the past year, we are not satisfied with the pace of our progress. We take on these challenges, however, with the understanding that we will not be in Haiti for one or two years, but we will be in Haiti for decades, trying to provide the basic human rights to the street children and orphans so that they too can live out their hopes and dreams. On this day, I ask that you take a moment and pray for the people of Haiti: pray that positive change will come out from this tragedy. If we collectively make an effort to make Haiti a country of success and prosperity, positive change will happen. Thank you for all your support, donations, and contributions to H.E.R.O. to help our work in Haiti. Together we can be the change for Haiti.