[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] January 12 marks the fifth anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti. Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori offers the following overview and looks at the progress since that fateful day in 2010.
On the fifth anniversary of the earthquake Haiti suffered on 12 January 2010
Haiti and her people are survivors – of colonial occupation and a slave economy, of wars, rebellions, and invasions, a long history of corrupt and ineffective government, and when things seemed at their nadir, even of imported disease. Through all the trials and tribulations the world can wield, Haiti continues to respond with creative resilience. The contrast between conditions shortly after the earthshaking of 2010 and today is remarkable – tent cities have largely disappeared, housing stocks are increasing, roads have been repaired and re-laid, and significant new commercial development is evident in Port-au-Prince and other urban centers. Schools are full and busy, even if there are not yet enough seats for all who should be there. Young adults are being trained for employment in tourism, construction, agriculture, health care, and emerging technical fields. Artists are busy creating new works and styles. The contrast is enormous – and today’s reality far exceeds the conditions prevalent before the earthquake. The solidarity and support of the world has made a major difference. Haiti can and should emerge from its status as the least developed nation in the hemisphere, if the world will keep its pledge and stay the course.
The Episcopal Church in Haiti continues to play a major and essential role in this renaissance. The cathedral church in Port-au-Prince was long seen as the spiritual and cultural soul of Haiti. Today, its bells are quiet (in storage), its world-renowned murals largely destroyed (three have been preserved for reuse), and its naked altar platform awaits the cathedral’s rebuilding. The cathedral grounds are lively, with primary and secondary school now serving more children than before, a music school that continues to train internationally renowned choirs and instrumentalists, and a trade school that is rising from the spot where bodies lay for days in the ruins of its former collapse.
The art museum begun many years ago by the diocese is nearby, and houses numerous treasures that exceed display capacity. The nursing school in Léogâne is graduating growing numbers of nurses trained as community health providers. St. Vincent’s school for handicapped children is on the cusp of a major rebuilding effort. The University and trade schools are growing and thriving. The bishops, clergy, and lay leaders continue to provide much-needed direction within Haitian society. In every part of Haiti, The Episcopal Church is healing, teaching, instilling hope, and pointing the way toward the kingdom of God, on earth as it is in heaven.
Resurrection and hope abound, and not in Haiti alone. That continued hope and movement toward the reign of God are the result of the co-creative partnership of people and nations. Active engagement in one part of the world affects other parts of God’s body, as any community that has sent missionaries, received them, or helped dreams to develop knows well. Transformation by partnership goes in all directions, and it makes more of itself in the process!
This anniversary brings abundant opportunity for thanksgiving. May we be moved to respond in concrete and particular acts of gratitude, and may it redound to the glory of God.
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church