Mandatory Most: The Winner Is Haiti
By Kathryne Gadarian
I really didn’t want to write the run-of-the-mill-top-story-of-2010 blog post on New Year’s Eve, but my boss told me that I had to put in at least one paragraph. And since it’s usually me who bosses him around (he’s my husband), I thought it only fair and in the holiday spirit to follow his orders this once. So here it is: the Mandatory Most World Top Story of 2010. The winner in this dubious contest? Haiti, of course.
It’s stating the obvious, and perhaps even the mundane at this point, but without question, the most shocking single world event of the past year was the 7.0 earthquake that struck just outside of the Haitian capital of Port-Au-Prince on January 12, 2010, killed over 200,000 and leaving millions of already impoverished citizens homeless.
This story lived on the home pages of news websites for well over a month, and we watched Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN grow leathery, thin and increasingly famous during their feature coverage of orphaned children, grieving families and fatigued health workers. Celebrity and native Haitian Wyclef Jean raised over $1 million dollars for disaster relief through his charity Yele Haiti, and then was immediately investigated for financial misconduct and fraud, leading Jean to later admit to ‘administrative errors’. Jean later made news again for his impassioned bid for the Haitian presidency, which failed.
We discovered in July that of the $5.3 billon pledged by donors in emergency relief, only 2% had been paid, and only four countries – Australia, Estonia, Norway, and Brazil – had paid anything at all. International adoption demand for Haitian children skyrocketed, causing controversy and kidnapping allegations; but also many happy endings for childless families and family-less children. Nearly one year later, Haiti still struggles with extreme poverty, disease, homelessness and corruption, but tiny milestones mark progress towards some version of recovery.
Like most tragedies, this disaster brought out the best in people (Presidents Clinton and Bush), and the worst in others (Pat Robertson). Hopefully the next decade will be a kinder one to this embattled Caribbean nation, and maybe we can spare a thought or two for them in their struggle when we’re tired of obsessing about our own.