DIARY HAITI / 3. Fiammetta: Guarding the rubble to show we are still there
January 26, 2010, Port au Prince, Haiti
A letter from Fiammetta Cappellini from AVSI Haiti arrived during the night: in the desolation of a city destroyed, small signs of hope to all indicate that reconstruction is possible. Meanwhile, the work in camps continues, with children hampered by illness and with pregnant women.
In recent days, many things have happened, which seem small among such desolation, so that when these happen, you don’t realize how big they are.
On Saturday, a shipment arrived from the Dominican Republic (picks, shovels, wheelbarrows, sheets, blankets, etc.), accompanied by our colleague Edward Panunzio, other colleagues from CESAL (a Spanish NGO), and several Dominican and Italian friends. Meeting him was a good feeling: for days we had not seen each other, but even more, the last time was before the city had been razed. Even for him it was a shock; he needed time to understand that everything he was seeing was true.
At the camp of Place Fierte, the population has increased: 1,800 instead of the 800 that we counted at the beginning. Now there is a coordination committee. Another good result of these days was arranging for the last 66 pregnant mothers to have mattresses in their tents. The last group of homeless people which has formed at Cité Soleil is not yet a camp, but is a gathering of people who have lost everything and are coming together to face today and to start thinking about tomorrow.
Sometimes, it is disheartening to look under the tents. At least one child per family is sick. Dysentery, parasites and malnutrition. Mothers leave their little ones to older ones to spend hours in lines to receive food. It is so hard to encourage people to gather in the camps, in order to organize, stabilize, and be counted, and then the "big dealers" come along and give to anyone, without rules, even those standing by the side of the road.
In another area, where we have a aid station, there is a very poor community illegally perched on a hill which has almost completely collapsed. It is not a real camp; there is no space and people continue to stand in front of their homes. In that area, we were able to distribute essential supplies to 2875 people. These are people who had nothing and lost everything. They are waiting for decisions that will be made on the fate of their former homes. They cannot afford to leave their debris, risking that nobody will remember them. I really hope that this is not yet another fantasy for these people.
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