By Maj. Gen. Simeon Trombitas
Trombitas is serving in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as the deputy commander of Joint Task Force-Haiti. He is the commander of United States Army South in San Antonio, Texas.
Last Sunday I visited an IDP, or internally displaced person camp, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. This particular camp is located at Ancien Aeroporte and is one of the camps identified for relocation due to its congestion and its likelihood to flood during the upcoming rainy season. I walked into the camp expecting to see a face of collective human despair.
But you wouldn’t have known this plight by the children and the men and women I met. Yes, the living standards here are something we (Americans) could never imagine. The conditions are primitive and rough. But what caught me by surprise were the smiles on the children’s faces. Not just one, but nearly every child I met wore a smile a mile wide. This was something I did not expect. Despite the living conditions in the camp, I was greeted with smiles of hope everywhere I walked. Rather than despair, I saw the face of resiliency in the camp—both on the children and their parents.
When I left Ancien Aeroporte, I had a sense that these people would persevere like they always have, but one thing that struck me as I waved goodbye to the children was that this recovery is really more than the removal of debris caused by the earthquake, reconstruction of homes or the repair of the roads; its about our nation’s commitment to invest in the children of Haiti. This enduring partnership is the real legacy of the work we’re doing in Haiti.