The world has mounted a determined effort to relieve the immense human suffering in Haiti. It is a remarkable outpouring of compassion that includes grassroots efforts to solicit donations on handheld devices, giant military transport planes loaded with food and water, and the quiet heroism of thousands of non-governmental relief workers, and it now seems well on its way toward meeting the immediate needs. As that monumental task is accomplished, and the attention of the world's media shifts elsewhere, the challenge of creating a decent future for the people of Haiti will likely remain, because normal life in Haiti was unacceptably perilous even before the earthquake.
If there is to be any real hope for Haiti, a long-term and multi-faceted recovery effort must be mounted on a scale the world has rarely achieved. Fortunately, former President Clinton and many others are already looking ahead to that task, drawing up plans to rebuild the nation's homes, government buildings, ports, and roads. A group of us in Seattle and beyond, many from Federal Way-based World Vision, have suggested that the plan for rebuilding Haiti should also include a major campaign to put Haitians to work restoring the "natural capital" of their country the once-verdant forests and clean rivers that were destroyed long ago, but ought to be restored as a birthright for future generations and a cornerstone of the nation's future prosperity.