The sadness of the Haiti situation is almost too much to take in. A quake, followed by life in tents, followed by winds that rip away their cover and now steady rains. It is like a chain reaction accident in the fog; with one bad thing leading to another and then another.
This week the rains are washing the sand from hillside quarries down onto the people huddled in tents and killing more. They live tents because their homes had bad foundations made from the poor sand and stone in those quarries.
This chain reaction of misery started many years ago, when poverty or policy or poor judgment began what would become a construction pileup that seems to be without an end.
At one time Haitians built fine homes with strong concrete foundations. They used quality materials and took pride in their workmanship and strength.
Then something took a wrong turn and the crumbling of 200,000 buildings in 2010 was the final result. And the wreck continues even today.
They are still pulling bad sand and gravel from the hills to start the reconstruction efforts; they are still mixing concrete on the ground with shovels (the proof is in the video below at the 2:20 min. mark). You can bet that they are skimping on cement and putting in too much water into the concrete mixes.
These actions will force the Haitian people into a cycle of building failure, followed by more suffering, unless we can help them get off from this roundabout.
Our efforts should focus on ways to break the cycle of sadness and teach them to quarry in the best sites, to mix with better concrete recipes, to use the best tools and to follow best practices. We wouldn’t want our family to exist in this way, why are we accepting this for Haiti?
Until we help them change direction, the rains will continue to wash what is good about Haiti down the drain.