A GUEST POST BY RADHA AGRAWALI saw a glimmer of hope and a small ray emerge from the dark clouds that cast a devastating shadow over Haiti. Beyond the thousands of amputees, hundreds of thousands of Haitians without homes, 80% of businesses under rubble with no insurance to fall back on, multitudes of university students without classrooms, I saw hope in her eyes. I sat with Dr. Diane Jean Francois last week when I was in Haiti and her inspiring words moved me to tears. I had to look away to wipe my eyes and continue on with the interview. Her story is just one of a thousand stories - her frantic attempts to contact her family after the earthquake, her digging family members out unsuccessfully from under the rubble, her sleeping in the garage for fear of another earthquake. But her story is a little different. While most Haitians who had the opportunity to study in the US never returned to Haiti, creating a major "brain drain", Dr. Diane, after studying at John's Hopkins Medical school, decided to return to Haiti to head up CMMB - the Catholic Medical Mission Board (www.cmmb.org). Her story is especially poignant because she lost her leg in a plane crash several years earlier (she dragged herself from the plane when everyone else had fled) and really provides inspiration for the thousands of Haitians who have lost their limbs. "Life goes on" she says, " and you can spend your life feeling sorry for yourself, or you can stand up and fight. This is a great opportunity for Haiti to rebuild and for there to be dialogue between the haves and have-nots. This is our chance to sit down and talk as humans. This is the chance for Haiti to shine again."
From what I saw, the country needs proper infrastructure between septic systems, drainage capabilities, a just government with laws and proper punishment for those who break them, a much better education system where universities aren't just clustered around Port-au-Prince, and a real fostering of small businesses with insurance available to the masses. These are no small tasks, but with incredible international help pouring in on all fronts, and sitting down with Dr. Diane and seeing the conviction in her eyes, I sincerely believe Haiti will indeed shine again. I just hope when the media lights fade, that we won't forget. I know I won't.