Sophia Lafontant is Oxfam America’s lead organizer for Haiti.
It is amazing how quickly life can change. In a matter of hours, people in New York’s Breezy Point, The Rockaways and Staten Island, in New Jersey’s Atlantic City, in Cuba, Jamaica, and Haiti were all faced with the reality of lost property, death, and power outages. It makes me realize how interconnected we all are and dependent on our families, friends, elected officials, and the kindness of strangers to help us when we cannot help ourselves.
I live in Washington, D.C., and while Sandy came through here too, it was not with the same force. While holed up in my apartment for the better part of two days, my mind and thoughts often raced to Haiti, where 54 people reportedly died in the storm, and my extended family and friends still there. Both my parents were born and raised on the island and came to the US as young adults to escape the repressive government of Jean Claude Duvalier. Like many children of immigrant parents, I was raised with one foot in the US and one foot in Haiti. Despite the extreme differences, I love both countries dearly. As an American, I cherish the opportunities and freedoms I have had all my life living here. But Haiti, the land of my parents’ birth, pulls at my heart strings constantly. And the storm, in an odd way, brought into focus for me the sudden similarities in these neighboring nations: the anxiety, fear, loss, suffering, and high-level discussions about if and how to rebuild. Read the rest of this entry »