Haiti: Seven Years After The Earthquake

Earthquakes happen every day. Sometimes at such great magnitude that buildings are damaged, people injured or even worse death and lives are changed.

First responders come through and aid flows in. The tragedy gets covered in the media.

People rebuild and life goes on.

Seven years ago Thursday at 4:53 p.m. 300,000 plus souls vanished from Haiti. In an instant, millions of lives were changed when a massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked the island.

While life has gone on after 7 years and things are slowly moving forward — the traces of that rocky night and the days that followed remains in a lot of minds and hearts.

I’ve had love-hate relationship with my parent’s homeland but I consider myself an optimist.

January 12, 2010 has changed Haiti for the better for some.

One SMS message sent by a 19-year old from Rutland, Mass has changed the lives of 66 children and hundreds of Haitian families in and around Grand Goâve, a small community west of Haiti’s’ capital.

“They love us so much and everyone is so happy. They love what they have and they work so hard to get nowhere, yet they are all so appreciative. I want to move here and start an orphanage myself.”
Britney Gengel

Gengel was a student at Lynn University on a mission trip in Haiti on that day in 2010. This was the last message she sent to her mom Cherylann before she along with her classmates and professors died shortly thereafter.

The Gengel Family (Her parents Cherylann & Len, her brothers Bernie & Richie) have kept Britney’s promise creating “The Be Like Brit Foundation” and successfully built a big ol’ beautiful self-sustaining home on the side of a hill that is earthquake and hurricane proof housing these lovely children.

During my visit to Brit’s Home in August 2016. I kept hearing the same words over and over from some of the locals:

“Rony, I can’t believe we are here, we do not know what we did to deserve this, we are working, it’s truly a blessing.” 

Indeed it is. Not only at Brit’s home but the work that is currently happening there. New homes are being built every month, people are working and providing for their families.

What’s great about this is that the folks at BLB are in this for the long-run and are already making plans for the next 10 to 15 years.

I don’t think Brit realized the domino/ripple effect she started with just one text message.

I mean an 80-year old elderly man literally macheted his way up that hill where the road currently stands because he believed in that mission.

I could go on but it’s one of the many anecdotes I can share with you looking back 7 years later coming out of there.

Tariq Nasheed, a film producer working on The Untold History of Haiti documentary, made a great point how the world often looks at modern Haiti, through the lens of the media.

We see poverty, we see political sabotage, we see devastation but there’s a lot of mystery and misconceptions about Haiti.

Also no one seems to talk about the positives and how rich the culture is.

Haitian folk are resilient, they are faithful and their soul is rich in love. Even when things may not go in their favor they remain optimistic. I suppose that is where I get it from.

While Haiti is slowly moving forward, we shouldn’t forget about them and all the challenges it faces daily.

I pray that one day it fully transitions to a country of independence and not dependent or others or worse than it was before.

Please keep the people of Haiti in your thoughts and prayers, today and every day. If you want to know more on how you can help please do not hessitate to reach out.