Home Selected Post-Earthquake Dispatches 2010 The Collision of Natural Forces & Human Weaknesses in Haiti (January 17)

The Collision of Natural Forces & Human Weaknesses in Haiti (January 17)

January 17, 2010

The Collision of Natural Forces and Human Weaknesses in Haiti

The result of the earthquake in Haiti is a collision of natural forces and human weaknesses.  On the one side, you have the prehistoric creation of the Earth, where large parts of its massive rock crust are always in motion on the continents and beneath the ocean.  Originally, most landmasses were once joined but now they are apart, continents and islands alike.  These are ancient forces beyond the control of human being – earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, thunder and lightning.  We can try to understand them, but we need to be out of their way.

This brings up the second part of the equation, human weaknesses.  

1. Ignorance

Haitian scientists know the history of earthquakes in the Caribbean, but this information has not filtered down to the Haitian people.  For example, what do you think that Haitian parents have been telling their children when they cry and are afraid about what just happened?  Can they explain the truth?  or make up a story?  or just change the subject?  This is particularly difficult when even such an earthquake hardly ever occurs.  This is different than the seasonal hurricanes.  Haitians are overcoming their ignorance of hurricanes.  They waterproof their houses, they move away from rivers, they stock food and water for the storm season that comes every year.  So now, they must overcome their ignorance about earthquakes, because earthquakes produce complex emergencies.

2. Simplicity

Haitians often construct large buildings without good architectural design or engineering.  They often use whatever materials are available, instead of demanding the highest quality for each purpose.   this occurs among the poor and the rich as well.

3. Blind Faith

Generally, Nature is good to Haiti.  There is rainfall, fresh water, fish,.   fruits and vegetables  fall into children’s hands naturally.  Nature also has its own affairs separate from people.  It cracks the Earth open, raises and collapses mountains.  At the same time, it gives Haitians a little comfort from the sun, the birds and the bees.  So Haitians cannot take blind faith that Nature will only give the good things.  Therefore, the whole country must get together to replace their current weakness with strength.

That’s what HRDF stands for:  Each of the four words are important strengths that Haitians now need.


There are now nine million Haitians in the country itself and approx. three million outside of the country.  The strength of Haiti is in every Haitian on Earth.  Twelve million, soon to be fifteen million. 


Anything that Haitians can acquire from anywhere in the world and put it to good use – it could be, for example, a computer, a doctor, a tractor, a windmill, or an idea – becomes a resource for the country.  Haitians have not yet discovered all the resources available to them.  When they do, that will be their greatest strength.

Among the resources of HRDF are :


For twenty-three years, HRDF has combined with significant institutions, charities, professional societies such as

  • – Communities of the Wallone Region of Belgium,
  • – The European Union,
  • – Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and the Americas,
  • – Florida Governor’s Haiti Advisory Group,
  • – International Foundation for Electoral Systems,
  • – US Agency for International Development,
  • – Mole St. Nicolas (Haiti) in Action,
  • – Association of Haitian Physicians Abroad,
  • – the City of Suresnes, France,
  • – Cités Unies, France,
  • – the Department des Hauts-de-Seine, France,
  • – the U.S. Southern Command.
  • – Firefighters from Limoges, France
The City of Aquin in Southern Haiti

Aquin has served as the Haitian headquarters of HRDF for twenty-three years.  HRDF is lucky to have this beautiful and peaceful part of Haiti to help it do its work over the years.

Universities of the world such as:
  • – Southern University in Baton Rouge,
  • – Loyola University in New Orleans,
  • – University of Louisiana in Lafayette,
  • – Florida International University, Miami
  • – University of Brest, France
  • – University of Anger, France

HRDF constantly draws on their professors and students for advice and answers to its questions.  They are especially strong resources for use after this earthquake.  Right now, we need a lot of advice and a lot of answers.  For example,

  • – Shall we move millions of Haitians out of harm’s way?
  • – Can locations for new communities be quickly found, designed and inhabited?
  • – What can be made of all the rubble in the cities after the earthquake?
  • – How quickly can community emergency response teams be trained and equipped?


“Development” is how you use the combination of resources at your command.  We are talking about more than band-aids.  Development is about making the transition from weakness to strength, from ignorance to knowledge, from chaos to organization, and especially from blind faith to preparedness and civil defense. 


A foundation is more than the first rock in the ground.  A foundation has to have the whole structure in mind.  A foundation for a one-story house cannot later support two more stories.   A foundation in an earthquake zone may not even support one story.

HRDF is comprised of experienced people, technical know-how, mobility, quick response, adaptability, communication, demonstration projects, monetary contributions from Haitians and non-Haitians all over the world.   This makes the strongest concrete for a Haitian foundation.


The Haitian Resource Development Foundation prioritizes programs that enable and empower various Haitian locales to further personal and collective independence. Engaging in a range of programs over 20 years, the HRDF continues a commitment to providing measurable results for program beneficiaries and program benefactors. Working with multiple international partners from North America and Europe, the HRDF is committed to fundamental improvements in Haitian villages to ensure greater economic vitality in the near future.