The Union’s appeal towards Christian Aid’s work in Haiti has raised around £180,000. It’s nearly four years since the great earthquake of January 12, 2010 which killed some 150,000 people and destroyed a quarter of a million buildings – and this is the poorest country in the western world. Raymond Prospery, Christian Aid’s Support Manager in Haiti, was about to leave his office when the building collapsed. He was badly injured, and was fortunate not to have been killed. While visiting Wales recently, he was interviewed by Alun Lenny.
AL. What difference has the work of Christian Aid made in Haiti since the earthquake?
PR. It has improved the living conditions of a large number of people. Thousands live in new housing projects thanks to Christian Aid’s support. Thousands also have clean water. Think of a young girl who previously had to walk 3-4 hours every day just to get water, now having access to clean water 10 metres from her home. This means she now has time to go to school, and to have a better life.
The 2010 earthquake was horrific and a very nasty experience for you personally.
It was. I was about to leave the Christian Aid building when it collapsed. I was caught in a corner and I nearly died. It was a dark and very difficult moment. But I’m able to show my gratitude for coming through it by helping others through the work of Christian Aid. I would like to thank everyone in Wales who have contributed to the appeal, thereby allowing me to help my brothers and sisters in Haiti.
What about the international response to the situation in Haiti? Is there a risk that the country, which is still facing great problems, is now forgotten?
We are grateful for the support but there is much more to do. Life is still very hard for about a million people. It will take about ten years to repair the damage that was done by the earthquake. We need investment in education, health, roads and so on – especially in the poorest areas. We have to challenge the big companies, such as the international banks, to invest in the right places.
What about your experiences in Wales?
I have enjoyed myself immensely. I love to hear the language being spoken. It reminds me of the struggle for the Creole language in Haiti. When I was at school, they tried to stop me from speaking Creole and to only speak French. But now, I have two daughters who speak Creole well. I have learned some Welsh words – Bore da! I’ve just visited Whitland and heard about Hywel Dda and his Welsh laws which placed emphasis on justice rather than punishment. Yes, I have enjoyed myself.
Clearly Prospery is a brave and dedicated person. He also writes a blog for the Guardian newspaper. Go to: www.theguardian.com/profile/prospery-raymond
Photo: Prospery being welcomed by the Mayor of Carmarthen, Cllr.Arwel Lloyd (who is a member at Brynrhiwgaled Independent chapel). Also pictured is the Revd Tom Defis, Christian Aid.