As a professional stained glass conservator, I have spent half my life restoring stained glass windows in the United States.
Because Haiti is my homeland and Port au Prince is my hometown, it had been a dream of mine to preserve and restore the beautiful art glass windows of the Port au Prince Cathedral.
Thirteen years ago, I initiated contact with the Church authorities and the Haitian government in an endeavor to save the windows which were endangered even then, as they were in an advanced state of deterioration. This effort was to no avail.
After the earthquake in January 2010 I volunteered my expertise, and 9 months later, the Smithsonian Institution sent me to do a survey of the windows.
When I went there in October 2010, I found the site invaded by looters, and although the number of surviving panels had been reduced in this nine month interim, there were still eighty or so stained glass windows, in their frames and more or less intact.
I made recommendations and the Church eventually gave permission to post guards in late December 2011 but by then, (on the eve of the quake's anniversary) all but a few of the panels were destroyed by metal scavengers. And when I visited the site again this year at Easter time, I saw that the vandalism was still underway as the last few widows were in the process of being destroyed by people whose open access to the site has remained unchecked.
For the record: The January 12, 2010 earthquake did not destroy all the Cathedral's stained glass windows, a large portion of the art glass survived the quake but was subsequently lost because the Catholic Church and the Haitian government turned their back on The National Cathedral and abandoned it to scavengers, looters and souvenir hunters, both Haitian and foreign.
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