Sunday, January 13, 2013

Three years after Haiti earthquake, pain lingers

Three years after Haiti earthquake, pain lingers

His legs are paralyzed, he can't work and he barely leaves his small Louisville apartment — but what troubles Marcelous Pierre most is his family's desperate plight back home in Haiti.

Three years after the devastating 2010 Haitian earthquake killed one of his children and severed his spinal cord, leaving him a medical refugee in Louisville, Pierre said his wife and three surviving children still live in a leaky tent, eking out a meager existence.

"That's my concern, my family," said Pierre, 38, one of at least eight injured Haitians who were treated and then resettled in Louisville after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake — one of the hemisphere's deadliest natural disasters. "After all the (recovery aid) money they put in ... my family is still in a tent."

Pierre's plight is a stark reminder of the massive upheaval that continues to plague Haiti as a result of the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake that killed tens of thousands, left nearly a million homeless and spurred many Louisville residents, donors, aid groups and doctors to help.

On this third anniversary, local refugees and aid groups working in the impoverished Caribbean island nation say recovery is still painfully slow, despite billions in aid donations, including funds that remain undistributed.

An estimated 357,785 Haitians still live in 496 tent camps, according to a recent report by The New York Times. Others have moved to shanties or slums. Cholera, widespread joblessness and other woes still grip the nation.

The Rev. Frantz Philippe of Louisville's Haitian Baptist Church, who visited his home country last year and has many parishioners with stricken relatives, said he plans a local memorial service Sunday to remember lost loved ones and console those frustrated by the sluggish pace of recovery.

"Three years later, they still have people on the streets," he said.

Daily difficulties

After spending a year in Louisville getting life-saving heart surgery in the disaster's aftermath, Stephanie Privert, now 18, is back in Haiti with 10 family members, living in a three-room, concrete block house funded by money raised in Louisville.

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