Well folks, the trip is finally coming to a close. We (Andy, Estelle, and Sarah) are in Santo Domingo, Eric is still in Port-au-Prince, and Glen took off early on the 11th flying out of Jacmel.
Overall the trip was a great success. We collected quality GPS observations at 30 sites across the country that will be used to develop better models of the increased seismic hazards resulting from the January 12th earthquake. These models can then be used by the Haitians to guide their efforts in creating and implementing proper building codes.
It’s been an amazing trip to say the least with ups and downs, beauties and tragedies, and technical glitches and solutions. We were stretched as scientists to reach out in a country that truly needs education about earthquakes and what to do when earthquakes strike. All teams did an excellent job communicating with broad audiences via radio, television, public talks, and private meetings with officials.
We would like to thank our many colleagues from the Bureau of Mines and Energy, the numerous individuals we met on the road (Gregory Chevry, Samy Sterlin, Tenior, Jillian, Samuel Nap, ….), the high school adminstrators who let us interrupt their daily programs, the college students in Mirebalais who shared their experiences with us, the radio DJ’s and station administrators, the local government officials, ministers, and the missionaries.
As we leave Haiti, our rich experiences have left us with some indelible impressions. Despite much progress across the countryside by local governments and NGOs, infrastructure development is still in need. After the January 12 earthquake a vast school system has been crushed, and many of the educators and future leaders of this country are gone. But Haiti is very rich in one remarkable source: its people. Despite the hardships of Haitian life, despite the heartache and loss from the earthquake, the spirit, the compassion, and the optimism of the Haitian people lives on. If the world can help not only rebuild the structures that have been destroyed, but help develop the nation as a whole (water, roads, education, farming), the Haitian people have the capacity and will to prosper.
We have met people who could take the mantle of leadership today. We’d like to make special comment about people like Gregory Chevry. Greg Chevry is a business and community leader in Mirebalais who is working to distribute water throughout the north, pushing through plans for a new technical university to help replace what was lost in PaP, and sheltering homeless students. Greg was drafted by his community to run for the Haitian senate (figure below), until the national government quashed the election. He is intelligent, compassionant, and honest, and must be one on many who can help lead Haiti out of this crises if given the resources.
We have also seen Haiti’s future in the faces of its children, who are friendly, smart, inquisitive, playful, and optimistic. Below are a just few of the many, many smiling faces we have seen.
We wish to close by expressing our deepest sympathies to the Haitian people as they rebuild from this great tragedy.
Andy, Estelle, and Sarah