January 12th 2010, around midnight, I was sitting in my living room, in Rome, browsing through the latest updates from friends on Twitter. As many of the people I follow work in the "aid business", a few started tweeting about an earthquake in Haiti. The news was that "fresh" that the main news sites (CNN, BBC,..) had not picked it up yet.
I opened a window displaying the latest Tweets on Haiti and found plenty of people tweeting from the ground. A feed with the latest Haiti pictures on Twitter showed plenty of images posted from mobile phones. The devastation showed this was a heavy earthquake, which took a high toll. It was clear from that moment on,
It was strange, sitting by myself, in my living room, and watching the tweets and pictures scroll by in real time as they were posted, but that is how my story with the Haiti emergency started. A few days later, I flow to the Dominican Republic, to start the emergency support office. I came back six months later.
We are now one year later, almost. It is interesting to see the articles, and more so, blogs and agency websites picking up on the "one year anniversary" of the earthquake. Already since December. Normally, that never happens for an emergency. At least not on that scale. To me, that is a sign something stinks.
It seems the stream of "Haiti, one year on" has people split in two camps... On one side, the press hammers the relief effort. And on the other side, you have the relief agencies trying to justify how well they did their part.
Check out the aggregation of those articles via Humanitarian News, also available on RSS.
Mmmm.. and I am biting my tongue weighing to what I can say, and what I can't say here, on this blog. What I should say, and what I shouldn't.
Let me summarize it in one sentence: What, for reliefworkers, should have been a pretty standard schoolbook example of "a sudden on-set emergency" (typical for natural disasters), has turned into a humanitarian relief disaster.
Picture courtesy AP/BBC.