Scenes of an apocalypse; more distributions; touring a slum

Drive to the distribution point at Eglise Bolosse – an extraordinary trip through often apocalyptic scenes; an ad hoc tent camp under the ruins of a former gas station…

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…hillside houses crushed; overflowing gutters filled with rubble and plastic and rubbish; a makeshift infirmary under blue plastic awnings, a child with a swollen foot, welts and flies, who squeals with delight when I snap pics and show him the results.

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We are handing out tarpaulins, water and jerrycans to a thousand destitute families; an old woman comes to me and asks “di ri, di ri”. I realise she wants rice. “Desolee; on n’a pas du riz ici.” She walks off, despondent.

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A small scuffle later on as some men sneak round the back and try to steal boxes, but overall an amazingly disciplined affair, hundreds of women patiently in line waiting their turn, happy some help has arrived.

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We continue to explain the shelter strategy – why starting the basis of a transitional shelter is better in the medium term than tents – but it can be difficult to explain.

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So many demands – why haven’t we fixed everything yet? But even in the insta-twitter age, some things simply take time, and in a deeply poor country, clogged by traffic jams, where the government and international aid community were themselves devasted, with only a small airport, port, and a bad overland road to the Dominican Republic, there are absolute limits to what even the most powerful nations on earth can do.

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We have seen those limits plainly enough in domestic tragedies, in rich countries with working systems, let alone here. We are all working very hard to get a difficult job done.

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A guide takes me through a hillside slum. Some of it still stands, some of it has been destroyed. I will post video tomorrow. Spirits still seem OK. Simple kites are flying. Local markets are working – a woman carries a panful of courgettes on her head. Re-establishing basic social systems. Coping.

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23 responses to “Scenes of an apocalypse; more distributions; touring a slum

  1. Excellent! My husband and I have a God-daughter, Nicole, who is Haitian American and travels frequently home and back to Columbia, South Carolina. You are right that more Haitian voices need to be heard. We are praying to help hers be lifted. I look forward to readin more from you in your efforts.

  2. Beautiful pictures, and the people are beautiful too, somehow keeping a wonderful dignity despite the surroundings. Thank you.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this post…

  4. Good for you! Keep up the good work!

  5. It’s amazing inlight of such tragic disaster to see some people have time to smile.

  6. Not the same place, same life

  7. Beautiful. Moving. Humbling. Thank you for telling their story.

  8. Amazing pics….stunning!i love painting poverty as it’s so real in africa…brilliant and god bless for all your work and effort in the story.

  9. Very nice post…Thanks!

  10. Nice and saddening pictures, and visions of hope for a new future. Man will never learn that nature remains stronger…
    Continue your work.

  11. My brother is going this week with his wife. He is a doctor she is a nurse. They will will be there for 2 weeks. I just sent him this link.
    Best,
    Mike

  12. Hate to say it, but the place looks no worse than it did in the 90s long before the earthquake. Even then, it was the norm to see garbage all over the streets, people starving and bodies piled up in the streets and hospitals.

    • I assure you, some parts of PaP are significantly worse than before the earthquake. Perhaps these specific pictures don’t reflect the full devastation of some areas. My video in the next post has a couple of scenes. But it is localised. One building can be sandwiched, the next standing. One street fine, the next rubble. One neighbourhood with very little changed, another decimated.

      But you are right in one respect – much of the shock from the outside world is seeing the already existing reality of Haiti for the first time.

  13. Amazing post. Thanks for sharing!

  14. As one of the skeptics, we seem to have done a great job so far in terms of emergency. We however need to have coordination and coherence in our continued works here in devasted Western department. Hopefully and together, we need to keep the bad guys [State]away while we work hard to make progress in a land that has not progressed for more than 200 hears. The dinaussaurs in D.C. and Paris that have sworn for Haiti to remain a ragged land of negroes should now show their humility and sens of moral high to avoid coming and coming back and back again! Let’s keep up the good job. I am fully part of it.

  15. Nice and beautiful pics. Thanks for sharing!

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  17. Thank you for this post. I think we need more post like this for this issue to continue to stay in the mind of people. As a Haitian-American this earthquake will have lasting effects and these pictures are further evidence that my people need continued help.

  18. Excelent, I’m glad that we need to keep the bad guys [State]away while we work hard to make progress in a land that has not progressed for more than 200 hears. The dinaussaurs in D.C. and Paris that have sworn for Haiti to remain a ragged land of negroes should now show their humility and sens of moral high to avoid coming and coming back and back again!
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    Let’s keep up the good job. I am fully part of it.

  19. Thanks so much for giving us another glimpse

  20. John Ryan Recabar

    “Beautiful pictures, and the people are beautiful too, somehow keeping a wonderful dignity despite the surroundings. Thank you.”

    Poverty is never beautiful. The West revels in the beauty and quiet charm of Third World countries, but this act is mere tokenism. Try living in these romanticized places all your life and we’ll see if the word beautiful would still apply.

    • Poverty is never beautiful. It is the ugliest thing we know.

      But that does not mean you cannot find beauty in poor places. Beauty can be found everywhere.

  21. all I can do is sigh for the misfortune that happened in Haiti, wish there could be more relief and rebuilding, pick up the pieces and things will be worked back into order, I pray… for Haiti

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