Haiti: A Makeshift Existence for Homeless Families
From an airplane flying into the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, you see the extent of destruction from last week’s earthquake and the mass displacement it has created.
Every park, every square, every athletic field, even large gardens are occupied by people made homeless by the quake. The lucky ones have mattresses, a few pots and a bit of privacy offered by sheets hung from trees or poles. Makeshift roofs made of blue plastic sheeting protect from the blazing sun.
Nine days after the earthquake, pockets of normalcy are springing up amid the rubble of the city. Some fruit and vegetable stands have opened. Water distribution is occurring more regularly, with people waiting in orderly lines with buckets. One enterprising Haitian has set up a generator and for a small fee will charge your cell phone. So far he has had a dozen customers.
In the athletic field of the Roman Catholic school St. Louis de Gonzague, a few hundred people have pitched tents. In the makeshift alleys of this makeshift camp there are stands selling fried food. With so many official buildings in ruins —from the Presidential palace to the famous police station Delmas 33—one has the impression that the entire city of Port-au-Prince is living a makeshift existence.
“It’s clear that people will not be able to stay in these conditions for long,” said Gillian Dunn, director of the IRC’s emergency response team. “The IRC is helping to determine the best medium term solution.” One option is camps for the displaced. It is not an ideal solution, but it may be inevitable given the scale of the destruction.
How to Help
Donate Now: Your support will go directly to the IRC’s efforts helping survivors of the Haiti earthquake cope in its devastating aftermath.