A lot has been campaigned for and accomplished by First Lady Michelle Obama, & Haiti has been one of her prime focuses since the devastating earthquakes in 2009. Yesterday, she made a surprise visit to the embattled island nation to survey the damage and re-ignite relief efforts. Check out the full story, with pictures and video below!
The island nation welcomed the First Lady and Jill Biden, wife of the Vice President (Second Lady?), at the presidential palace which still lies in ruins. They allotted their time taking a helicopter tour of the most badly damaged areas around Port-au-Prince and spending time with children at local schools.
In an interview during her visit, she said:
“It was important for Jill and I to come now because we’re at the point where the relief efforts are under way, but the attention of the world starts to wane a bit,” she said. “As we enter the rainy season and the hurricane season…the issues are just going to become more compounded.”
The nation has been at the center of world relief efforts since the magnitude 7 earthquake that decimated the impoverished country. The U.S., which has had a rocky history with the nation, is highlighting it’s commitment to the country with the visit by Michelle Obama; & Haiti having already received over $1 Billion in relief from the US, stands to receive another $1 Billion of pledged money in the future.
On the ground, locals that have been left homeless by the quakes are generally grateful for the aid, but hope that more is done to help. One mother living in a tent with 6 children and her husband said:
“I hope this visit will bring us help, because they’ve brought us practically nothing,”
Progress will be slow and steady, and a lot of focus has to go to preventing any further catastrophe. UNICEF’s reports of rebuilding indicate that
“there has been no significant disease outbreak or increase in malnutrition rates, over a million affected people are receiving clean drinking water, and over 200,000 women and children are benefiting from selective feeding programs.”
But further efforts need to focus on “provision of sanitation, risks of violence against women and girls living in displacement camps, and the broader issue of much-reduced government and civil society capacity.”
Either way, the visit is a classy sign of goodwill for the USA by the First Lady Michelle Obama, & Haiti will profit from the re-focused attention this will bring.
Do you think the beleaguered island nation will ever make a full recovery? Should the US be spending money sending dignitaries down to the nation, or should that money go to aid? Voice your opinion in the comments section?
Also, don’t miss the pictures and video below!
Photos: www.wenn.com, Carrie Devorah