Members of the GW community gathered in the Marvin Center Wednesday afternoon to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, serving as a reminder that work still needs to be done in the third-world country.
The University has provided support to the decimated country, hosted conferences on how to rebuild Haiti’s infrastructure and education system, and worked with the country’s first lady Elisabeth Preval, an alumna since the earthquake last January.
Doctors from the GW Medical Center also traveled to Haiti to help rescue those trapped under debris and to aid the roughly 600,000 people left dead or injured and 1 million people left homeless.
University President Steven Knapp praised the GW community for its response to the earthquake, but said GW’s work is not done.
“We knew our response was going to have to be a multi-year effort,” Knapp said.
With students in Haiti taking classes in tents, and only a small fraction of the rubble cleared, the ceremony stressed the need to remember the devastation a year later and for years to come.
Freshman Karl Delatour was studying in his home in Port-au-Prince when the earthquake shook his city.
“I was unquestionably sure that this was the end of the world,” Delatour said.
Delatour spoke of the devastating human loss, the massive amounts of infrastructure damage, and the rubble still left in the city streets.
He offered solutions including decentralizing the overpopulated capital and reinforcing public institutions during crisis response.
Delatour stressed that education will be essential in fostering effective Haitian leaders.
Lt. Paul Schurke, who was serving as an engineer officer on a ship that happened to be near Haiti on the day of the quake, arrived at Port-au-Prince the next afternoon.
“What we found was an endless stream of wounded,” Schurke, a graduate student at the University, said.
“There is only one identity that matters, and that is we are members of a human family,” Schurke said.