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Page last updated at 19:37 GMT, Wednesday, 12 January 2011

'It's not enough'

Father Arsene Jasmin
Father Arsene Jasmin

Father Arsene Jasmin is a Catholic Priest from Haiti who has spent the past three years in Washington, DC, as the only Haitian priest in the region.

In January 2010, he went back to Haiti and had just finished presiding over a funeral outside of Port-au-Prince at the very moment he started feeling the earth shake.

Below, Father Jasmin gives World News America his assessment of the devastating day and the developments this past year.


I was about fifteen miles from Port Au Prince on the top of the mountain called Duval in Petionville.

We finished the funeral celebration and I went to the house to greet the family members and while we were seated in a little room talking to each other, we felt the house start shaking.

While we tried to get out from that room, the back of the house collapsed. And when we got in front of the post of that house, there was a kitchen in front of us that collapsed also.

Now we were between two big piles of rubble.

Woman praying
A woman prays among the rubble of the damaged main cathedral in Port-au-Prince.

We visited the Cathedral in Port-au-Prince to see what happened. The residence of the Bishop and also the Cathedral building -- everything had collapsed.

It was so so hard when I went to the residence of the Bishop and I saw him on the ground already passed away. I couldn't keep brave. I cried for a couple minutes.

After seeing the Archbishop, we realized that we had to save some of the survivors because under the debris we could hear people crying. That was really the longest night so far of my life.

Don't Forget

As a priest, I have to be strong and help people deal with these images and this tragedy.

I try to convince people whoever they are, or whatever they do, I try to convince them, 'please, it's our country, even if you are living here, you may have a relative there, please don't forget. Even a prayer, even a short prayer, don't forget this country.'

When we see what is happening now after one year….all those people that I left under the tents looking for some place to live, looking for some food, looking for medicine, and they are still in the same condition--there is no way not to remember that moment.

I think today, the day of the anniversary, is going to be a black day, a day of darkness, a day of terrible things. There's no other words I can use to explain that day in the Haitian history, in the Haitian life.

Food line
A food distribution line on January 26, 2010.
And I am ashamed, because after a year all my fellow citizens are fighting one another. We can see what has happened a month ago with the election.

And I am ashamed to see my fellow citizens instead of giving hand to ease off the plight of the people; they are rather fighting one another for power.

I am ashamed because I would never imagine that after one year the Haitian people would contribute to dig the country deeper into the abyss than it was January 12th, 2010.

Moreover, I feel also deceived because there were a lot of promises from so many friendly countries, the international community, and I thought they were going to move quickly.

On the contrary, the process of rebuilding Haiti is less than a tortoise. I know every country has its own problems, USA, Canada, France etc, but do not tell me feeding people every day is the help that they were promise to do.

We can't spend all our lives waiting for food from foreigners like this, or just providing some tents for the homeless! I would prefer they teach us how to fish instead of giving us a daily fish.




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