- Title: HAITI: Few signs of hope for tent camp-bound family one year later
- Date: 11th January 2011
- Summary: PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI (JANUARY 8, 2011) (REUTERS) EARLY MORNING SUN THROUGH TREES VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WAKING UP IN TENT CAMP NEAR PRESIDENTIAL PALACE VARIOUS OF WOMAN SELLING BANANAS AND BREAD TO TENT CAMP RESIDENTS BUCKET OF BANANAS AND BREAD LATRINES LOCATED NEXT TO TENTS VARIOUS OF PEOPLE BEGINNING THEIR DAILY ACTIVITIES LIGHT BULB INSIDE SHELTER OF CINE FAMILY
- Embargoed: 26th January 2011 12:00
- Location: Haiti, Haiti
- Country: Haiti
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Reuters ID: LVA9CRLKQNAZPXDLAE4A6BNNXMU4
- Story Text: Each bleak day bleeds into the next bleak day for Fedor Cine and Anise Sainee, elderly Haitian grandparents struggling through the long days that have defined their lives since last year's earthquake forced them out of their home and into a tent camp.
Sixty-two-year-old Cine and 54-year-old Sainee live with their 11 children and grandchildren in a ramshackle shelter in a camp near the collapsed presidential palace.
The camp is widely known as Touissant, due to a statue that presides over the tent city of the revolutionary Touissant Louverture, who headed the slave revolt that led to Haiti's independence and founding as the world's first black republic in 1804.
A strong stench of excrement and urine drifted up from a sewer in front of the family's tent, with its corrugated tin roof and dirty plastic sheeting stamped with the slogan "U.S. Aid from the American People." The air was thick with the sour smell of nearby latrines.
Cine said the family's desperate trek to the tent camp last January 12 amid the darkness and chaos of the earthquake left them with few options.
"I don't have any other place. It's here that I live, obligated to hold my nose to drink the water. It is not because I like to be here, it's that I have no choice. When I came here on January 13, I woke up here, near the hole (sewer). After I built this tent, people spent the entire day throwing out dirty water here. If I have not gotten cholera, it is because God is protecting me," said Cine.
The cramped, squalid lifestyle the family lives in is a common story among tent camp residents throughout Haiti. Many wonder why they are still living in camps one year later, and question the response of the government and international community. In recent weeks, protesters have taken to the streets shouting out against the government of Rene Preval, who has been widely blamed for what many see as a slow recovery.
For Cine, little has gone in the right direction over the past year.
"There is no improvement. It is worse. There is no change. They are not doing anything for the people. Everyone lives in tents. If there were some change, we would not be living in tents for so long," he said.
He said he had voted in November's presidential election, but seemed to hold out little hope for a better future after losing his job as a Port-au-Prince street sweeper four years ago.
It is not a widely held sentiment, perhaps. But Cine said he yearns for the days of the Duvalier family dictatorship, before what he sees as Haiti's failed experiment with democracy when fiery former Roman Catholic priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide took office in 1991 as Haiti's first freely and fairly elected president.
Cine had nothing to say about human rights abuse under Duvalier and the dreaded Tontons Macoute, the notorious family death squads. But he is not alone in voicing frustration with efforts to establish a stable democracy in Haiti.
Over the weekend, the family made a visit to the ruins of their former home on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. Piles of crumbled rubble lay among broken walls, and the scene brought tears to Sainee's eyes.
"If my home hadn't been destroyed as it is now, totally destroyed, my granddaughter would have a better life. But now I cannot give her anything because everything is lost," she said.
Sainee has complained of not feeling well for two months now. She said she and her family usually eat just one meal a day and she sees little hope for a better future. "I can only count on God," she said.
"All of the family is malnourished because we don't have money and we are very poor. There is no one who can help us, none of my relatives - only my son helps us when he as work. My future is totally uncertain," she said.
So as the hours passed and a sultry Haiti afternoon settled onto the tent camp, the family gathered around their shelter, idly talking, staring, wondering and waiting.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2011. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None