Haitian-Americans reflect 1 year after quake

January 12, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The people of Haiti are still struggling to recover.

Marie and Ducanor Cadet of Evanston are still thankful they made it out alive.

"I think that if I were down there, I would be in the same situation, too," said Ducanor Cadet.

The Cadets were on vacation in their second home outside Port-au-Prince when the massive quake happened, and, by chance, found out five days later they could get airlifted out of the country.

Since then, the Cadets and other Haitian-Americans have followed closely the global response to help the impoverished nation. They say Haiti's own government is standing in the way of getting building projects off the ground, and dispersing medical care where it's needed.

"They don't help. Nobody helps. There's people still in the dirt. Dirty water, garbage everywhere -- no living for them," Marie Cadet said.

"The American public sent close to $2 billion to Haiti. Only 36 percent has been spent," said Lionel Jean-Baptiste of the Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti.

Jean-Baptiste says that's because of the thousands of non-governmental organizations there. He says that while the NGO's are trying to help, they each have expensive overheads. Still, Haitian-Americans are committed to helping their native country.

Rosite Feteau-Merentie is a nurse who's been to Haiti a few times since the earthquake.

"There are no words to explain it. It was a vision of your worst nightmare," Feteau-Merentie said.

On one trip, she and other doctors brought back Bahsuhlay Suewee and successfully repaired his spinal cord injury. She plans to go back to Haiti next month, to help with the cholera outbreak.

"They all tell me, 'Please don't forget about us,'" Feteau-Merentie said. "That's my drive, just hearing these voices saying, 'Don't forget.'"

Both Feteau-Merentie and the Cadets say they are grateful for the worldwide outpouring of financial and medical support and ask that it continues.

There was a moment of silence in Haiti Wednesday at the time of the earthquake hit last year.

Locally, a memorial service took place Wednesday night at the Haitian Congress in Evanston.

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