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Haiti now also running low on world attention

Haiti, April 14, 2010

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David Sarasohn

The Oregonian
April, 2010

Getting a little behind on the spring landscaping?

“When I look out the window,” says Bill Holbrook, “I see millions of metric tons of rubble.”

And that’s progress.

Holbrook isn’t sure exactly how long he’s been running Portland-based Mercy Corps’ earthquake recovery program in Haiti — “I think it’s about three months; I haven’t really had time to measure the calendar” — but he arrived about a week after the earth shook down much of the country, so his count seems about right. He’s been there as waves of international assistance and traveling celebrities swept in, and now he’s there as hundreds of thousands of Haitians are still in tents as the rainy season approaches — to be followed, he points out, by the hurricane season.

And he’s still there as Haiti, after a short stretch as the world’s 24-hour news obsession, continues its slide off front pages and television news.

“The history is that every disaster brought a big response,” says Holbrook, “and very shortly after CNN left town, donors had a hard time keeping their promises.

“I wouldn’t say that we feel it. But we worry about it.”

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