- Faith & Family
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and Congresswoman Frederica Wilson recently led a community forum at Miami Edison Middle School that drew nearly 150 Haitians and supporters, providing them with information about U.S. efforts to rebuild the ravaged country. The audience was welcomed by Principal Keith Anderson and prayer by Rev. Eddy Gervais from the Faith Community Center. They were then asked to join young men from the 5000 Role Models who circled the auditorium in a silent memorial march. It has been two years since Haiti was struck by its most devastating earthquake in its history and while progress has been made, Nelson says more work must still be done.
“This is the largest urban disaster in modern history and it’s estimated that to rebuild Haiti it will cost in excess of $8 billion dollars,” Nelson said. “One of the challenges is how to move forward logically but before you can begin construction projects the first thing that had to be done was to remove the rubble. Two-thirds of the debris that remained after thousands of buildings collapsed has been removed. But it was a monumental task, led mostly by a team of Americans, Canadians and Brazilians. There was enough rubble, 10 million cubic meters, to fill trucks from Key West to Maine and back again.”
Wilson said the forum was held because many citizens who live in her district have been asking about the progress and future plans for helping Haiti get back on its feet.
“The average person really can’t understand how great a task it is to rebuild after a disaster,” she said. “Haiti is not the size of the city of Miami — it’s huge, more like the state of Florida. The people that we invited to talk to the community are the planners and the disbursers of money so they know the real deal.”
Other speakers included Ken Merten, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti; Tom Adams, Haiti special coordinator for the U.S. Department of State and Elizabeth Hogan, Director of the Haiti Task Team for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
“The news recently shared a story about a boatload of Haitians who were trying to make it to the U.S. — 83 lived but over 40 died trying to seek a better life,” Nelson said. “The list is long in terms of what’s needed in Haiti: better health care, improving the infrastructure, providing adequate food and jobs and stabilizing the country’s economy. Then there’s the task of finding temporary housing for the thousands of displaced men, women and children. What happened in a matter of seconds will take close to a decade to repair. But the U.S. remains committed to helping those who are still struggling.”
By D. Kevin McNeir