Before January, it was a city known to me only through books and a few films and of course, the news – always bad news. But CNN sent me to Haiti to report on the aftermath of the earthquake. And my eyes were opened to a whole new world.
I saw Haiti for the first time after devastation and suffering of epic proportions. I regretted that I had not seen it before.
But before in what? “Normal times?” What were normal times for Haiti? This country has been through more turmoil and pain than any other nearby.
In news stories, you see phrases like “the most impoverished nation in the Western hemisphere.” You see on CNN that Haiti’s comeback will be that much more difficult because of lack of government, lack of system, lack of everything.
When I was there in January and February, I worked closely with a CNN producer, Edvige Jean-Francois. She taught me to see Haiti the way it ought to be seen – outside the American lens. She showed me the richness of culture, the wealth of Haiti. Not in monetary terms, but in other ways that matter.
Now, almost four months later, I am back.
I still see uncleared rubble and buildings teetering on the verge of collapse. But the smell of death has gone. There is no longer that dazed look on people’s faces – the look you have after you have lost everything, when you haven’t yet distilled the horror that has befallen your homeland.
On the way from the airport, I saw school children wearing bright checkered uniforms. I knew then that Haiti was progressing. Slowly, perhaps. But moving forward.