The anniversary of the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti was remembered on Wednesday, Jan. 12, during a moment of silence at 4:53 p.m.. The traffic in Port-Au-Prince came to a halt as mourners dressed in white filled the streets in honor of what was lost that day.
According to the Associated Press , the government raised its recent estimate of the number of lives lost to “…more than 316,000” from 250,000. Despite promises of aid from other countries, more than 1 million people still reside in the tent cities one year after the earthquake. If that was not enough, the residents of the camps are struggling with a cholera outbreak. Yahoo! News cites that “more than 170,000 people have been infected” by the outbreak that began in October, and since then it has claimed “at least 3,651 lives.”
With these sorts of struggles, one might assume that any semblance of normal life would be impossible. And yet within these same camps are small tented businesses, and even what could be described as entertainment. A CNN Video reveals a blue tarp cybercafe, where one camp resident is updating his Facebook status, in what Jim Spellman of CNN describes as “an almost defiant attempt to stay connected with the outside world.”
It’s this determination that keeps the residents of these camps going. Another resident featured is Carlos Jean Charles and his wife, who were left homeless by the earthquake. Carlos used to work on computers, but now he sells copies of famous paintings in front of the National Palace using canvases made from tents. Although he finds it hard to “see a future,” he is shown with his wife as she makes dinner on the ground with only two bowls and a pestle. Each shows their incredible resourcefulness in getting by.
At Wednesday’s memorial were people who expressed thankfulness amidst loss. Terez Benitot, whose husband can’t find work, said, according to Associated Press, “God blessed me by taking only one of my cousins that day. Our house collapsed but we have health and life.”
These are people who are thankful, concentrating on what they have instead of what they don’t. 19 year-old Charlemagne Sintia was also quoted by Associated Press: “We’ve had an earthquake, hurricane, cholera, but we are still here, and we are still together.”
The lessons demonstrated here should be heeded by even those with a surplus of material comforts. The lessons are: Through determination, life will go on; take comfort and enjoyment where you can find it; and always be thankful for what you have.
Jacob Kushner, “Haiti Mourn Quake Dead, Find Hope in Own Resiliency” by Associated Press
“Haiti Cholera Outbreak Expected to Claim More Lives, Relief Officials Say” by Yahoo! News
“Life Goes on In Haitian Tent Cities” video by CNN