[Two] years ago today, at 4:55 PM, we heard a deafening sound and our house started to shake violently. For the next 35 seconds, we struggled to stay standing as it seemed like the world was collapsing around us.
Today, we mourn the hundreds of thousands that were killed in the earthquake, the millions displaced, the loss of massive amounts infrastructure, of schools and hospitals and government buildings. We mourn the ongoing tragedy of an inefficient response, mired in bureaucracy and corruption and exploitation. We mourn that [half a] million people are still living in tents, that foreign companies are benefiting more from reconstruction contracts than Haitians. We mourn that such a devastating disaster did little to uproot the social, economic and political structures that oppress the majority of Haitians.
The city feels as though it's wrapped in a shroud. This morning the streets are empty, but churches are overflowing with Haitians wearing white and black, the colors of mourning. The government is launching [their program to re-locate one of the city's largest displacement camps]. A ceremony is taking place [in Titanyan, the site of the earthquake's mass graves], masses being held at cathedrals around the city. We grieve.
We also celebrate. We celebrate life, our lives and the lives of the people around us that are active and engaged in trying to shape Haiti’s future. We celebrate a vision for how things could be different for this country. We celebrate what has been done, the rubble that has been moved, the houses that have been repaired, the small businesses that have been rebuilt. In the midst of the mourning, I can also hear people singing.
[And we protest. Haitian social movement are reclaiming douze janvye, January 12, as a symbol of moving forward. Yesterday and today, thousands of people have marched through Port-au-Prince, denouncing the situation in tent camps, and calling on the Haitian government to undertake land reform, provide public housing, and protect women's rights.]
Please pray for this country today. Pray that today Haiti will recapture the sense of solidarity that was so prevalent in those first weeks after the earthquake and, along with that, the energy to move forward towards healing and real, just and participative reconstruction.