Statement on the 8th Anniversary of the Haitian Earthquake

Eight years ago today disaster struck Haiti. The earthquake lasted for less than a minute, but its impacts reach to today and likely far into the future. No one in Haiti was untouched. Everyone has friends or family who were lost or injured. Everyone hurts in remembering that day. Every year, January 12th is a difficult and somber day in Haiti.

Today, on the anniversary of so much suffering, I am saddened and horrified at President Trump’s comments yesterday regarding Haiti and Haitian immigrants. They are demeaning to the Haitian people and their contributions to Haiti and the United States. They are wrong.

The thousands of Haitians I have had the honor of meeting in nearly 15 years of working there are the most hardworking, dedicated people I have ever known. Haitian immigrants in the United States contribute this same spirit of hard work and determination to their lives in this country as our colleagues do in Haiti. To denigrate their characters and deny them the respect they deserve, particularly on the eve of such a difficult day in Haitian memory, is abhorrent.

These comments hit close to home for me, quite literally, as my wife and children are immigrants from Haiti. Two of the boys are in college now, and I am so proud of all that they have accomplished, and all that they will contribute to the world.

We do not normally wade into politics and political speech at HEI/SBH, preferring to focus on the work at hand and ensuring that our Haitian colleagues have the resources they need to provide lifesaving care to our patients every day. But the President’s comments yesterday were too horrible for me to stay silent. As Martin Luther King Jr., who we celebrate on Monday, said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”

I know you stand with me today in remembering those who were lost, honoring those who survived horrible ordeals during and after the disaster, and celebrating the resilient and optimistic sprit of the Haitian people who said “we can recover, we can move forward, we will survive and thrive again.”

So today, let’s lift up that truth about the Haiti we know, and the incredible Haitian people we are so honored to work with, side by side.

Kenbe fem,


Conor Shapiro
Health Equity International/St. Boniface Hospital

If you would like to share a glimpse of Haiti with your friends and family who may not have the privilege of knowing the country personally, we put together a short slideshow on Facebook to illustrate the Haiti we know. I encourage you to watch it and share it as we commemorate this difficult day in history, and work together towards a brighter future for all Haitians.