The Big Truck That Went By How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster

Review :

I wanted to review this book briefly because I think it might have been overlooked when it first came out several years ago. Written by Jonathan Katz, an AP journalist stationed in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the book chronicles the devastation of the hurricane and earthquake that nearly destroyed Haiti in 2010. The post-disaster images were widely seen of course, as were the famous people showing up in front of cameras to convince us of their sincere support (see Bill Clinton, Bono, Sean Penn, etc.). But what I didn't know, and what I'm not sure most people know, is that less than 10% of the money that was promised to Haiti ever arrived. Even more depressing, most of the money that did arrive went into the pockets of NGO's or other, already established aid groups, some of which were affiliated with the US government. Almost none of the money went to Haitians who could use it to rebuild their country. Because of problems with property records, construction materials, and lack of organization among competing groups there to help, almost no sanitary housing was built, almost no permanent medical infrastructure was developed, and few productive efforts were made to provide employment for the people who lived in Haiti and still live there. Haiti, according to Katz, is no better off today for all the promises and all the unfocused good will that was invested there. It's a depressing story, especially since it can leave you cynical about the nature of the help that follows major disasters.


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