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Brian's Beat: Haiti - Final Days, Why We're Here

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The end of the trip is in sight! Only a couple more days before I head back home to Calgary, and winter. I think the weather gods are doing their best to ensure that I have the biggest temperature shock possible, as the last two days it has been about 40 degrees here. We had our first rain and thunderstorm here in the evening. So far we have had overnight sprinklings of rain, but not a real downpour.

It’s the downpours that can wreak so much havoc here. In Port-Au-Prince, with the city sitting in the valley between the mountains at the mouth of the Golfe de la Gonave, all the water just washes off the surrounding hills into the town below. With it, the refuse and sewage that just sits around on the streets and surface. That leaves the lower town awash in the filth of the people above.

That’s one of the very reasons that we are here, working on putting in municipal services and helping the different towns work together. For too long, there has been an approach of allowing something to become someone else’s problem. You see it everywhere here in Haiti. Garbage is dumped on the street. Got a pile of rubble on your property you don’t want there? Just dump it on the street! Throw it in the ditch, it will wash away.

There are so many vicious cycles in Haiti, it’s quite overwhelming. It’s hard to know even where to begin to make a difference. Everywhere you turn is another monumental challenge, another problem to solve with no resources and, too often, no will. The barriers to making change are just as monumental as the problems themselves.

So far, the progress seems so little, the steps so small. I have seen the difference being made here by Canada, by the people that I get to work with here. People’s lives are better because of the time we have spent here in the four years since the earthquake. But so much more needs to be done, from garbage, water, sewage, buildings, roads right through to fiscal management and town planning.

Context was drilled into me as I arrived; it’s important to remember context. One other thing that the program director, Martin Blackburn, talked to me about was patience. Things here require patience.

Maybe that is my lesson in all this, to be more patient. Because patience certainly isn’t my strong suit!


This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.

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