Friday, April 30, 2010

photos - school - part 6

The children were laughing carrying their "Liberty bags" full of food as they left the gate.

We give the Lord thanks that we can share our blessings with those in the community.

Davidson is flattening bottle caps. The children then make a toy out of them by putting a hole in the middle and then run a string through it. It then turns into a "spin toy". Davidson helps his mother by running the cookie stand in front of the house.

This is "Broom Hilda" carrying her broom. Just kidding, it is Marie our cook heading towards her work area to do a little sweeping.

The mission Caritas is sponsoring work groups in our neighborhood to clean up the streets. Debris gets put in a central location for future pickup by dump trucks


(AP) - By Frank Bajak

PAPETTE, Haiti — Unlike the vast majority of earthquake victims still crowded into squalid camps, the simple farmers of this hard-hit village have reason to hope as hurricane season looms.

Transitional housing now rises on the foundations of cinderblock homes pulverized by the Jan. 12 quake, framed in pressure-treated yellow pine, roofed in rustproof paint-coated galvanized steel and anchored in newly poured concrete.

The Dutch relief group, Cordaid, expects to finish 150 of the dwellings with sturdy tarpaulin walls by next week in this village overlooking a mango-lined lagoon. They are among the first of more than 130,000 semi-permanent shelters that international relief groups hope to put up in the earthquake zone in coming months.

But construction of the shelters — more than a tent but less than a house — has been excruciatingly slow, with barely 400 or so completed.

Two major factors impede the rollout: the crawling pace of rubble removal in Port-au-Prince, where a third of the city is still buried in quake debris, and Haiti's vexing land issues.

Relief agencies can't build shelters in the jammed tent camps that sprung up after the quake on every available inch of public land in Port-au-Prince, as well as on the private property of schools and businesses.

Nor can they build on most plots where the homeless previously resided because about 80 percent of them were renters, and the agencies fear the intended recipients would only be evicted by landowners.

Papette farmer Andre Senvoy, 57, the rare Haitian who holds title to the tract where he has been living, grins as apprentice carpenters hammer together his new shelter next to the makeshift corrugated steel shelter he fashioned from the remains of his quake-shattered home.

"The people in Port-au-Prince need to pray more so they can also get lucky," Senvoy remarks, a straw hat shading his gray-stubbled face from a blistering midday sun.

Because of land ownership issues, only a few dozen transitional homes have gone up in the capital, where more than half of the 1.3 million homeless still live in tents and flimsy structures fashioned mostly of tarps and bed sheets.

For now, the place where the most transitional shelters are slated to go up is a dusty relocation camp 45 minutes north of the capital at Corail Cesselesse on land that Haiti's government appropriated March 19.

Relief organizations don't like relegating the displaced to relocation camps far removed from friends, families and jobs. But agencies have scoured the capital and its suburbs for available land with paltry results.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which leads the shelter coordination, has yet to build a single transitional dwelling.

"I'm very sorry to say that after weeks and weeks and weeks of trying, we still don't have anywhere to build," Red Cross spokesman Alex Wynter said. "We have a pipeline, some kits in our base camp. But we still don't have anywhere to put shelters."

Instead of building, relief engineers are working full time trying to identify how to put shelters up in quake-ravaged neighborhoods without exacerbating land disputes.

"If you don't do this correctly you can create riots," said Alex Coissac of the International Organization for Migration.

Landlords have good reason to fear the worst. The shelters — though modestly sized, ranging from 12 to 18 square meters (120 to 180 square feet), and without plumbing or sanitation — can be made into permanent abodes without much work.

They amount to palaces for many here in the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, where squatter settlements were already strewn across the capital before the quake, and the fragile legal system was burdened by multiple claims for the same parcels of land.

Cordaid lead architect Henk Meijerink expects many Haitians to line the outside his $1,500 shelters with chicken wire and plaster, obtaining greater durability and insulation against the tropical heat.

"We have found that upward of 65 percent of transitional shelters get improved into permanent shelter," said Chuck Setchell, an urban planner and shelter expert at the U.S. Agency for International Development who has worked on other disasters.

Construction has not yet begun at the Corail Cesselesse relocation camp. It will take about a month to finish the first 500 shelters because the land must first be leveled and graveled, Coissac said.

Even in Papette, not everyone who lost a home is getting a new one.

Joanne Deldeiserser, 27, sits forlornly on a bunched up blanket at the foot of a nearly finished Cordaid shelter, sharing gruel with three filthy toddlers naked from the waist down.

It belongs to a friend in whose quake-cracked home Deldeiserser and her children are living.

"I asked them to make me a house like this," she says, gazing up at the fresh-smelling pine skeleton. "(But) my name was not on the list."

That's because she and her husband, a farmer killed in the quake, were living on rented land.

"I'm sitting here at the mercy of God, hoping he'll do something," she moans.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


(Los Angeles Times) - By Ken Ellingwood

Three months after the earthquake, schools and businesses want their land back.

Croix-des-Bouquets - Displaced and homeless, the 10,000 earthquake victims crowding the school grounds of the Lycee Jean Jacques are feeling the sting of a new label: unwanted guests.Administrators and students at the private high school are eager to resume classes after a pause of more than three months.

But they can't as long as the schoolyard, now churned to mud and strewn with trash, remains jammed with thousands of makeshift tents. Residents say they are willing to make way for students, but have no other place to go yet.

Across the Port-au-Prince region, Haitian and international officials are confronting the tricky task of balancing the needs of more than a million homeless with the urge of many others to resume a more normal life months after much of the capital and its outskirts were flattened by the Jan. 12 quake.

The tension is playing out at stadiums, in churchyards and factory lots, almost anywhere there is enough land to pitch a tent. But it appears to be happening most acutely around schools as the government tries to restart classes. Quake victims are camped out on 79 campuses around Port-au-Prince. Most schools in Haiti are run as private businesses.

Complicating matters, officials have been slow to find and acquire parcels of land on which to relocate displaced people, according to many residents and some aid workers.

At Lycee Jean Jacques, the gates entering from the streets are locked. The bare, sprawling grounds are covered with shelters improvised from sheets of plastic and wood sticks. Recent rains have created giant puddles. Mounds of garbage dot the expanse and smoke wafts from cooking pits. The pale walls of the school are painted with a plea: "We are hungry. Give us food."

"People here would like for the kids to go back to school. It's normal," said Jean-Lyonel Lorquet, a leader of one of two blocs into which residents organized themselves since flocking to the school after the quake.

Tensions are rising. Students blocked traffic the other day as part of a demonstration demanding a resumption of classes. Someone set fire this month to a tent and slashed two giant drinking-water receptacles.

"These people will have to move. There is a priority for reopening schools," said Guy-Claude Louis, the municipality's director-general. But, he said, "the question is not simple."

Municipal officials say they located two vacant fields not far away from the Lycee Jean Jacques that can accommodate all 10,000 or so residents camped at the school. But the sites are probably too small to accommodate everyone for more than a few months, and have to be readied first.

On a recent afternoon, 30 men and boys from the camp had gone on their own to one of the fields. They were cutting down plants with machetes and removing trash and rocks with shovels and pitchforks in hopes of a possible move.

As they worked, Casseus Guiteau, the official leader of the larger bloc at the school, with about 8,000 people, stood in the shade of a mango tree and delivered a long and acid rebuke of authorities.

"We can't bring people here under these conditions," he said in a voice deep and scratchy. "If it were up to the people in the school, we would have left. It's because we don't have a government that is working for us."

Frictions are not unique to Croix-des-Bouquets, a town of 300,000 about 45 minutes from Port-au-Prince. There have been numerous reports of threatened evictions by property owners, although U.N. officials monitoring the situation say they have not corroborated allegations that people have been removed by force.

"There's a tension between the right of [displaced quake victims] to be in a safe and secure place and the right of private property and the need to get the country back to normalcy," said Elio Tamburi, acting chief of the human rights office of the U.N. authority here, known by its French acronym, Minustah.

Tamburi's office has asked the government to place a three-week moratorium on evictions, which under Haitian law must be approved by a court. He said U.N. officials assume that such a ban is in place, though the government has made no public announcement.

This month, the government opened a vast and well-outfitted encampment not far from Croix-des-Bouquets for about 6,000 people. More than 3,000 people have been moved there from a Port-au-Prince golf course where they faced the risk of being caught in flash floods during the rainy season, which has begun.

The new 18,000-acre site, called Corail Cesselesse, with tidy rows of snow-white tents and plenty of latrines and water spigots, is one of only two large relocation sites established to date. International relief workers say that after the site was designated, they were given only a week to dig toilets in the hard-packed earth and cover the dusty site with gravel and stone.

An estimated 250,000 people living under tarps and tents in 21 encampments around Port-au-Prince are deemed at particular risk from flooding. The government says it has found five locations that could hold as many as 100,000 of them.

The government's reconstruction plan, delivered to international donors in March, said provisional housing at the five sites would eventually give way to long-term dwellings in permanent neighborhoods "with sustainable infrastructures and basic services." President Rene Preval has said, for example, that factories will be built near the sprawling Corail Cesselesse site to create jobs.

But the government will have to find and acquire more parcels.

"We urge the government to use its powers of eminent domain quickly and to follow a long-term strategy for reconstruction," said Julie Schindall, spokeswoman for the Oxfam aid agency, which runs a wide range of development programs and equips camps with latrines and washing facilities.

Among those eager to relocate earthquake victims is Haiti's soccer federation, which wants to get a new season underway.

The field inside Port-au-Prince's 16,000-seat soccer stadium was home to more than 3,000 families until a few weeks ago, when it was cleared under circumstances that remain in dispute.

Some former residents say stadium officials and police used strong-arm tactics to shove them from the field. The stadium manager, Rolny Saint Louis, said families agreed to go after being offered tents from China. He acknowledged having makeshift shelters knocked down, however.

More than 1,300 families remain packed under tarps in the paved parking lot that surrounds the stadium. Saint Louis said fans won't come if they can't park their cars.

The show must go on, though. The stadium, intact except for a toppled scoreboard, hosted a soccer game this week, the second contest since the quake. When the players strode onto the artificial turf, spectators numbered fewer than 40.

Outside, the parking lot camp was teeming.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


(ESPN) - By Wright Thompson

The day of Haiti's earthquake, two men went into a building and only one came out. This is their story.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- The man who died is buried in an unmarked grave. The digger worked fast that night. Business was good. He jammed the coffin into the opening at the bottom of the above-ground crypt, and when it got stuck, he covered the end in a half mound of quick-set cement. Before going on to the next grave, he scratched "Died on 12 2010" into the wet concrete. Just a day and a year. No month. No name. No epitaph. When the sister of the man who died sees the shoddy job for the first time, she stares at the grave, and then at the digger, her pain turning to anger, storm clouds rolling down her face, her anger building, casting its own shadow. She looks at the anonymous grave and she screams.

The man who lived stands before the entrails of his office. He's confronted by evidence of the thing he now knows in his bones: The line between living and dying is thin, a few seconds making all the difference, a capricious reality that has little to do with faith or good works. The Haitian Football Federation headquarters looks like it got killed in a slaughterhouse. A three-story building pancaked into a story of rubble. Ripped sheets of tin rising at morbid angles. Tangles of iron rebar turned to balls of spaghetti. Femurs of concrete snapped in half. Some bricks came out in pillars, 8x2, and others came out one by one, gathering like pools of blood. The everyday accouterments of office life disemboweled: hollow hard drives … the innards of printers, red and green and blue wires hanging from the back … splintered desks. The man who lived spots his office chair amid the waste; it's just brown stuffing now, shapeless. Mostly, he sees faces.

Thirty-seven people died here, including one of his best friends, who now rests in an anonymous grave. Three of the dead are buried on the side of the lot beneath a tree. Thirty-three remain beneath the rubble, lost forever. He thinks of them, trapped, their last hours filled with terror, and he thinks of those who escaped, standing outside this building, helpless. "We heard them, but we couldn't do anything," he says. "They were banging. One of them banged for three days."

On the day of the earthquake, Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, arrived for a meeting late, as usual. The man rarely made it to anything on time, running from place to place, juggling. He was a doctor in real life, but his passion was soccer. Later, his son would say they always believed he would die without the game.

His old friend Yves Labaze waited on him, as usual. Labaze didn't live on Haitian Time. He demanded punctuality. It was his job to wake up the players during training, banging on doors before sunrise, yelling, "Soldiers don't sleep." If he got to the field for practice before them, they did push-ups. He ran a tight ship. Soccer came first. Before his wife and two daughters in the States, whom he rarely saw because of the game. Before his girlfriend and young son in Haiti, who both knew they came second.

Sometimes, Magdala Pierre felt like he cheated on her with his job. Just two months earlier, when the under-17 women's team qualified for the CONCACAF tournament, she watched, with longing and jealousy, as he ignored her and sang songs with the players. The team came first. Always. Still, she tried. Just before the meeting, she stopped by the federation office to drop off something.

"Can I wait for you?" she asked.

"We can go home together."

"No, no. I'll come later."

Then he hurried away.

Labaze used to coach -- one of only two people to qualify a Haitian team for a World Cup -- but now he was the manager of all the women's teams. Today, they had to pick the U-17 final roster for the upcoming tournament; another trip to a World Cup was on the line. Labaze carried a list with him.

The president took his seat at the round conference table, his back to the door. Labaze sat down on his right. They shared a meal of pork and rice and beans. They told a few stories; the two men had been friends for decades, starting at the lowest levels of Haitian soccer, rising together to the top. Pictures of women's teams covered the walls. A rolling blackout cut the power. Light came from the windows.

Labaze checked the time. He had another meeting an hour away in his hometown of Leogane, and then he needed to check in with the workmen building his new home. It was about 3 p.m. At 4:53, consequences would saddle even the most mundane decisions. There would be many reasons some people lived and others died, tiny acts of fate, an invisible hand moving this person into danger, or that person out. Lifelong habits spared or condemned. Tardiness, for instance -- such a silly reason to die.

The hands on the clock moved. The sun inched across the sky. Minutes slipped away.

Labaze stood up. "It's time for me to leave," he said.

"No," somebody told him. "We're not finished yet."

"That's the list," Labaze said. "If you want to add somebody, add somebody. It's time for me to leave."

Who's No. 1 -- work or family?

This internal tug-of-war -- his personal life versus his soccer obligations -- had defined most of Labaze's 53 years. He often felt torn. Most often, his struggle resided in a single question: Work or family?

It was a one-sided battle: He always chose soccer. Even the languages he learned were those of countries where people excelled at the game; he could speak Portuguese, Italian, English, French and Spanish. All his children received soccer-related names. His reputation spread, not only as an obsessive student of the game, but as a calming force, slow to anger, a peacemaker. Handling the conflict inside himself must have taught him how to handle conflict between others. Labaze was the only one who worked for both the Football Federation and the Haitian Ministry of Sport, two organizations that got along like the Jets and the Sharks. Rival teams let him watch their practices. Everyone trusted Labaze. He worked hard to earn this trust. He traded everything for it.

In the late-1980s, Labaze's wife, Marie Mithe Maignan, moved to the United States to start a new life. Labaze stayed in Haiti, waiting for his wife to send for their daughters, Belge and Gophi, and coaching his team. Two years later, he drove his little girls to the airport. He didn't tell them where they were going. They didn't understand the tears streaming down his face as he put them on a plane with a cousin. It was the only time they'd ever see him cry. The jet taxied down the runway, taking off, bound for JFK International Airport and a better future. Labaze stayed behind. He had a team to coach. Work to do. He and his wife divorced.

He'd lost his family to soccer.

A decade ago, he met girlfriend Pierre; they double-dated with a coach who went out with her cousin. She soon learned that no plan was safe from work. Even if a date was his idea, he'd cancel it at the last minute. After a while, she stopped making plans. Weekends? Soccer. Holidays? Soccer. Birthdays, anniversaries? Soccer. If they went anywhere, it was spur of the moment.

Soon, they had a son. Pierre would tell Labaze often: "You give all this time to these girls but you also have a little boy here who needs you as a dad. You need to be here." But he rarely was. The team needed him. The federation needed him. He'd chosen work over family so many times, he saw the people from work as family. The lines between finally disappeared.

His myopia led to success. In 2007, he coached the under-17 men's team to the World Cup in South Korea. But he learned something about a burning love. Sometimes, the thing you love doesn't love you back. In the end, you're lucky if it only breaks your heart. The government made him many promises … and broke them all. It did not support his team. He paid for their practice field out of his own pocket … the price of the work became the nation's nickname for his team.

Something changed inside Labaze. He talked of quitting soccer. He said so to friends. He said so in interviews: "I'm bitter, because of the attitude of so many people who seek to undermine the team. Lately, I often have the idea to give it all up and do something else. Sometimes I ask myself whether after the World Cup I won't stop talking about soccer altogether."

The team went to Korea. Outgunned, it did not make it past the first round. Labaze seemed to drift. Why did I devote my life to this game? For the players? For myself? Was it because I wanted something to live after me? A monument to my existence? Did I make a colossal mistake?

He visited his family in New York. He saw his teenage daughters. He and his wife reconnected and decided to remarry. They did it in a Nyack, N.Y., church, with the girls as bridesmaids. The man walking down the aisle was a portrait of regret, grasping at a past he'd given up years before.

But now he was making things right. Finally, he was going to reclaim the life he'd lost. First, he told his wife, he had to go back to Haiti. He wouldn't stay long. He promised. The wedding was three years ago. He hasn't been back.

Labaze and the president ate cookies. The meeting was almost over. A phone call took care of Labaze's other appointments. He got a friend to go make an appearance for him at one, and his own home could wait. A trainer brought a sick player into the room for the president to examine. Labaze told him, "You have to do something. We can't lose him."

That's when it began.

They heard and felt it at the same time. It sounded like people were jumping up and down on the second floor. Everyone looked up.

"Is someone fighting?" one person asked.

The noise got louder, gaining speed and rhythm, until it sounded like an enormous helicopter hovering just overhead. A jackhammer. The building swayed, side to side. Wood beams groaned and struggled to hold.

"It's an earthquake!" the president shouted. "Everybody out!"

He jumped up and did a 180, headed for the door. Labaze followed. In the hall, the two men had to decide: right toward the front door or left toward the back. The president turned left. Labaze followed. Behind them, inside the room, the debris cloud blocking the sun, the other four men and women dropped to the floor, holding hands, praying in the dark: JesusJesusJesusJesus. The president and Labaze ran, rounding the corner, trying to get to the open door before the building collapsed on top of them. They could almost touch freedom. Four good strides to the door, then four more steps down the concrete stairs. A few seconds separating life and death. In a blink, the earthquake had exposed everything: the fallacy of time, memory, choices, faith. All illusions were wiped away and the only thing left, the one true thing in the universe, was four steps to the door, four steps down the stairs. They could see outside, the rectangle of light, the swimming pool inthe backyard. Grit and dust filling their lungs, they raced toward the open door, just a few seconds apart.

They ran toward the light.

Afterward, as everybody began to appreciate how fragile life could be, an equal and opposite reaction also happened: Insignificant moments took on great significance. A quick cup of coffee and a slice of toast could become … The Last Meal.

That morning, the president had headed off to the gym. As he left the house, he waved to his wife, who was talking on the phone to their son in Boston. It was the last time they saw each other before the earthquake. His routine -- gym, then sauna, then back into street clothes -- took him from home to the office.

For the past 10 years, he'd been president. Family and coworkers saw him as a rock. He took care of business. When he visited his children in America, he brought gifts and picked up dinner bills. Over and over again, his children asked if they could put in his name for permanent residency in the United States. Over and over, he told them no. His home is in Haiti. His home is here, in this building, with these people, working on a game they love.

The building sways. The president slips and falls on the stairs, bricks and pieces of concrete dropping all around him, like shells pocking an invasion beach. One lands on his right hand, crushing the tips of the ring and middle fingers. The wound bleeds. A brick lands on his back, another on his shoulder. This is how he'll die, a few feet from safety, crushed by the building he ruled. But his legs still work. He feels them, feels strength remaining, so he struggles to his feet. He runs through the open door, finally outside. Labaze follows, also makes it out the door. They are almost clear.

Suddenly, just behind them, the building collapses. Wood snaps. Falling bricks click like giant poker chips. Iron groans and gives, concrete comes out in midwall patches, then entire walls at a time. The roof leans and slides off the back. A man on the roof dives into the swimming pool. There is no water.

From outside, the collapse sounds like one big noise. But up close the subtleties are audible, the dying breaths of a building. Waves of dust and debris roll out from the wreckage. The people watching close their eyes, as microscopic razors fly toward them. They try to look but cannot. The noise continues for a good 10 or 15 seconds, and then there is quiet.

Well, not quiet, exactly. The screams of the dying and the pleas of the trapped pierce the air. A federation employee standing outside runs toward the back of the building, his voice joining with others who made it out, a chorus of people calling names, over and over again.





There were signs that Labaze finally understood he didn't need to choose.

He could have work and family.

Though he never went back to live with his wife -- seduced by the game and its siren call of one more team, one more tournament -- he did begin building a home, one big enough for people to stay with him in Haiti. He chose a spot in Leogane, where he was born, and watched with pride as the building rose up from the ground.

After 30 years with the Ministry of Sports, he put in for retirement. Friends couldn't believe it. Labaze retiring? Both his daughters were graduating from college in May; he planned to travel to America and spend several months there.

Of course, not everything pointed to a new Labaze. For one thing, he had remarried and then re-abandoned his wife, and then he didn't break off his relationship with Pierre. For another, he canceled a trip to visit the States in December, saying he didn't want to pay for two expensive trips. The likely truth? The under-17 girls' team had qualified for a tournament the month before, and he couldn't break away. One more tournament. One more team. After the World Cup run ended, then he could reclaim the life he'd given up. "After 30 years," says Charleus Gilbert, the best man at Labaze's wedding, "he was really thinking of leaving."

Labaze told his girls about the house. Each of them would have a bedroom. They tried to explain they wouldn't be moving to Haiti, and a simple guest room would be fine, but he wouldn't listen. For his wife, he prepared the second floor. All he could talk or think about was the home. Friday at the soccer training facility was payday. Every Friday morning, Labaze would start bugging the manager: "When are you giving us the money? You know I need the money to finish my house."

The night before the earthquake, Labaze returned a coaching book to his longtime friend and colleague Carlo Marcelin. The men sat and talked awhile. It didn't take long for the conversation to turn to Labaze's dream. That day, he'd gotten the loan to complete construction.

"My kids are graduating in May," he told his friend, "and I'm excited, because I'm going to finish the house so they can come back and see."

"I have money! Save me!"

The president is a half-dozen strides away, on the far side of the swimming pool patio, when the building collapses. The air is thick with khaki-colored dust. The man lands in the swimming pool with a thud, and the president climbs down to give first aid. He thinks aftershocks are coming, so he rushes around the side of the building, searching for survivors, trying to get them clear.

Eighteen people made it out. Thirty-seven did not.

He looks for Labaze.

Where's Labaze?

He can't find him. Maybe Labaze is already running to the stadium; the girls were practicing when the earthquake hit, and it would be just like Labaze to think first of the team.

Two hours later, the president and some others return to the federation building to look for survivors. When they arrive, they hear the voices, trapped in pockets of clear space, and under piles of rubble.

"Don't move. When you move, it hurts."

"I'm alive!"

"I have money! Save me!"

And then they hear another voice calling out from the back of the building.

It's Labaze.

He lies prone on the steps, covered by a pile of debris, his hands a yard or two from freedom. They can't see him, but his voice is strong and clear.

"I'm bleeding."

Labaze took a team to the World Cup once. He gave up everything for soccer. Now?

"There is something on top of me." The crowd backs up, scared of aftershocks, looking at neighboring buildings and doing geometry. They need equipment to pull the concrete and steel off Labaze. They have no equipment. All they can do is listen.

"Don't let me die like this," he pleads.

His friends are helpless.

"Is this how you're going to let me die?"

Someone else in the rubble tries to calm him.

"Hold your strength," the man tells him. "They're going to come get us."

Soon, the people outside can no longer hear his cries. Those trapped inside can.

Hours pass.

"Please help me."

His voice falls lower and lower, until it's barely a whisper.

"I have something on my back."

Only those close to him can hear at the end.

"I'm not dead. Help me."

Then no one can hear him at all.

Two and a half months later, Labaze's sister, Gabrielle, returns to the Cimetiere de Leogane for the first time since the earthquake. She finds the mound of quick-set cement and, nearby, the grave digger, smiling too big and making excuses. As a cosmic insult, laid out in front of her brother's tomb is an open casket, left by grave robbers or a gravedigger who needed the space. The stranger's skull rests on his brown suit, his belt is cinched tight and a single flower sits on his knee. Two stray goats walk over the body, baaing as they cross cloth and bone.

Gabrielle loses it. She doesn't understand why someone who did so much for his country can be abandoned here, in an anonymous grave, not even worth a sincere effort from the stone-eyed grave digger. "Why isn't it finished?" she screams.

More excuses, followed by more anger. A crowd gathers. They ask questions. Gabrielle and Willy Cetoute, Labaze's cousin, tell them the story of what happened after the building fell down. They waited a day, then another, hoping he'd make it out. A fellow coach called and delivered the news: Labaze was dead. Gabrielle bought wood and cement. She gathered sheets and caught a ride into Port-au-Prince. Cetoute went with her. They stopped at the federation building and stepped inside the gate.

"He's in the back."

They walked around and saw the pool and the piles of brick and steel. No one would help them dig the body from the rubble. They went to the street and flagged down a federation bus. "We need help," Gabrielle said.

"No," she remembers someone saying. "We can't help you. That's none of our business."

So Gabrielle and Cetoute paid strangers off the street and, from the wreckage of the place he'd chosen again and again over his family, his family dug out his remains. The soccer federation barely existed. The players had scattered, disappeared into the ether. The federation archives, the carefully collected record of Labaze's small and large successes, were lost in the rubble.

There was something else, hidden by the broken rock and bent steel, a feeling muffled by the dominant emotions of pain and loss: irony. Labaze had traded everything for work and in the end, not only did his job kill him, his office literally landed on his head, snuffing out his life and, for kicks, destroying the records of everything he'd accomplished. It's like none of it ever happened, and here, at the end, the only person who cared enough to claim his body, battered and mangled by the falling rock, was his sister. Gabrielle recognized his black boots.

They placed the body on a door and covered it with a sheet. They slid the door into the back of a pickup truck, and Gabrielle followed in another cab. She couldn't ride with the body. The smell.

Cetoute carried the body to the cemetery. It was heavy. He slipped and fell. Some players from the local club Cavaly de Leogane, where Labaze was the head coach, saw Cetoute struggling.

They never even moved.

He asked why they were not helping.

"Make it quick," they told him.

"Get rid of this …" They used a Creole word.

It means garbage.

This happened two and a half months ago. To Gabrielle and Cetoute, it seems like one long night. Cetoute stretches prone in the cemetery, showing how they found Labaze. He can't understand. One man lived. Another man died.


"All of them were in the same room," he says, standing a few feet from the grave. "The president came out and just had a scratch."

The president looks at the concrete steps and the door hanging in the air. It's black metal, with lots of squares of glass, most of them broken out. Shards shimmer in the afternoon sun. "That's the door," he says.

He squeezes a tennis ball, partly because doctors told him it would help, partly because it's become a nervous tic in the past few months. What is he supposed to do about this scene? Create a park to memorialize Labaze's death? Create a shiny new federation building to honor Labaze's life? Those who died are being forgotten, and the living are left to walk around helpless, asking over and over again: What do I do now?

There's the incongruous computer monitor at the top of the steps, then the piles of iron and brick, the electrical outlet dangling by a naked wire, the box of Christmas decorations, the soccer shoe pointed toward safety, and, finally, a single leaf resting on the spot where his friend lost his life.

"That's exactly where he died," the president says, squeezing the ball.

The night of the earthquake, after he and his wife had made it out of the wrecked city, the questions came fast. Why didn't I die? Is it because of something I did? Something I didn't do? What do I owe? How should I change my life?


Why am I alive? Why is Labaze dead?


After the earthquake, he went to the United States to visit his son in Boston. Even there, he did not want to sleep indoors. His own future is uncertain. Will he stay in Haiti? What will he do? Will anything be the same again?

"Never," he says. "It's never going to be like before."


Heights scare him now. He gave a news conference recently on the sixth floor of a building in Port-au-Prince and couldn't focus. Night and day, the fractured images of the earthquake come back to him: the shaking, the noise, the running, the light, the falling bricks and the blood and the last push to safety, and then the cries of the people trapped inside. The cries of his friend.

He looks again at the bottom of the stairs. Labaze made it out of the building. He made it through the door. Just a few more feet, and they'd be here together, telling stories, making plans for a team. Two men named Yves left a room seconds apart. One lived and one died.

The house is padlocked. His name and phone number are scrawled on the front in grease pencil. Labaze. 3568-6616. A jagged crack runs down the wall, through the "e." The second story, the one he built for his wife, fell into the front yard. Somehow, his oldest daughter can manage a thin smile at the metaphor. There are playing cards spread throughout the crushed cinderblocks. The inside is spare. Just a desk and a bed. The desk is full of books about soccer and notebooks with detailed practice plans that will never be used. The home is unfinished. The door frames haven't been stained. That's all that's left of a life.

"He died broke," says Gilbert, his best man.

In his final moments, did Labaze look back on his choices? If he had it to do over again, would he do it all the same? Would he still choose work?

"He died with a lot of regrets," fellow coach Marcelin says.

Standing here is painful for Gabrielle and Cetoute. This home was the manifestation of a new dream, and now it stands as a constant reminder that the dream died with him. His name fades a little more every day. Everyone is trying to forget the earthquake, and that means forgetting those who died, too. Bulldozers pushed bodies into mass graves a thousand at a time. The nation wants to move on, and those close to Labaze shake with anger when they think how little has been done to honor his memory. One afternoon at the training ranch, Gilbert takes out a small envelope from his pocket; inside are two photos of Labaze. He wants to have them blown up and hung in a public place, so people will never forget. "If someone like Labaze, who went to the World Cup, died like nothing, what about me?" he asks. "If nobody is talking about Labaze, what about me? They could do something. He gave his whole life. He's a real soldier. He died with his rifle in his hands."The under-17 team went to play in Costa Rica -- without him. The president met with FIFA leaders and made plans for the future -- without him. Even his local club in Leogane, Cavaly, moved on. A few weeks after the earthquake, Cetoute heard players from the club dismissing Labaze on the radio, saying, sure they'd lost a coach but they had a new one and the future would be great. They wouldn't help carry him to the grave, and they would not honor his memory.

"For them," Cetoute says, "he had no value."

The players didn't dislike Labaze. Their problem? They suffer from a new national sickness: unending emotional aftershock. So many people died. How do you grieve for everyone? You don't. Walls go up. Death loses its ability to shock, and it is far easier to grieve for no one.

Families of the dead suffer even more. Gabrielle points toward the Cavaly training ground.

"I don't want to see them again!" she screams.

The bedroom is empty, too. There's dirty laundry in a pile. A half used tube of Aim toothpaste. Blue-and-white striped sheets cover the bed. Suits hang in the closet. A black one just came back from the cleaners. The olive suit is size 41. The green one is 40 regular.

The neckties are tied, waiting for someone to slip them on.

The man who died dedicated everything to soccer, and in return, he lost his wife, then his family, then his life and, finally, he lost his future, too. The man who died never got the good news. An hour and 53 minutes before the earthquake, 26-year-old Belge Labaze went to see her doctor in Albany, N.Y. The nurse gave her a pregnancy test. It was positive. She wasn't married, and she didn't know how she'd tell her mom. First, she'd tell her dad. He'd make everything OK. She drove home and when she got there, the father of the baby called. He told her to call her dad right away. She asked why. There's an earthquake in Haiti, he told her. She dialed. The phone rang and rang. Her father did not return the call. She began to panic. It never took him more than 15 minutes to call her back. She called again. The phone rang and rang. Then her calls went to voice mail. Then the phone lines went down. Haiti was silent. Her dad died beneath the rubble and she nevergot to tell him he was going to be a grandfather. The baby boy is due on Sept. 12.

His middle name will be Yves.


(New York Times) - By Deborah Sontagport

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — More than 100 long days after the earthquake, Ginette Lemazor, her husband and their impish 5-year-old boy are still living in a filthy mechanics’ lot on Avenue Poupelard.

At least, Ms. Lemazor said, they are no longer sleeping in a junked car, but in a flimsy structure fashioned from plastic sheeting and salvaged wood. They have a bed — “Please, make yourself at home,” she said, pointing to it — and a chair. Yet their yard remains a jumble of rusty wrecks and their future a question mark.

“The owner wants to evict us,” Ms. Lemazor said of the 100 post-quake squatters who remain, out of 300, in the Union Garage lot. “But he knows we have nowhere to go. Really, who would stay here if they did?”

If Avenue Poupelard bustled with a desperate, survivalist energy two weeks after the earthquake, it now emits a low-level hum as residents, vendors and business owners adjust to the snail-like pace of this shattered city’s recovery.

On this centrally located street, the state of emergency is clearly over: the corpses have disappeared, the stench of death has lifted and the foreign doctors who took over the community clinic have gone home. Louis Fils, a 66-year-old coffin maker who churned out wooden boxes for premium prices right after the quake, is holding a liquidation sale.

But Avenue Poupelard is still a tableau of destruction, dotted with a few signs of progress: some newly hammered kiosks, towers of debris dredged from shells of buildings, and uniformed children under tarps in one wrecked school’s courtyard.

“Some of them are still so sad,” said Émile Jean Louis, whose Compassion of Jesus School reopened under tarps this month. “Look at these little girls lying on their desks! They don’t sleep well, and they’re probably hungry. I wish I could offer them a hot meal. But without help from the government, I’m operating on a budget of faith.”

Avenue Poupelard provides a less encouraging picture of the reach of aid, services and information than that found in official situation reports. Tucked into encampments too small to have attracted the nongovernmental groups operating in the big tent cities, many on Avenue Poupelard increasingly feel that they are on their own.

With the large-scale food distribution winding down, many families are subsisting on rice bought from street vendors. But several women said the free food was never easy to get, anyway; the man dispensing ration cards on Avenue Poupelard demanded sex or money in exchange. “That guy, he threw the card in the sewer if you didn’t agree to his terms,” Huguette Joseph, at the mechanics’ lot, said, hissing, “Evil!”

Asked if her situation had improved since immediately after the earthquake, Ms. Joseph paused and said, “I guess it smells better with the bodies gone.” She and others on the street are still looking for sturdy tarpaulins or tents and wondering how to secure a foothold in the new temporary relocation sites, like the one north of this city in Corail Cesse Lesse, to which thousands from the camp at the Pétionville country club were recently moved.

“I’d love one of those places with latrines,” Ms. Joseph said. “The hole we dug for our toilet here is filthy and sick, and now we go inside broken-down houses to relieve ourselves.”

In the makeshift garage itself, six men worked on a single broken carburetor. Clédor Fils Antoine, a mechanic, watched listlessly, saying none of them knew how to find cash- or food-for-work jobs in the cleanup effort.

“The only money to be made is in debris removal, but I can’t get a piece of that,” Mr. Fils Antoine said. “It’s hard to know what’s happening out there. Our government does not communicate except to scare us to death.”

Mr. Fils Antoine was referring to remarks this month by President René Préval, who warned of the inevitability of another earthquake, perhaps more powerful than the last. “I do not know when, but we know that this will happen, and it’s best to be prepared,” Mr. Préval was quoted as saying by Le Nouvelliste, a newspaper.

The president’s comments set off a panic, prompting many Haitians like Mr. Fils Antoine, who had just moved back into his home, to return to the streets.

But Jean-Claude Gouboth, 36, the leader of a small encampment on the grounds of an old villa, said he had ignored the president’s remarks “because the president ignores me.” Mr. Gouboth has already rebuilt his small convenience store with wood from inside his heavily damaged house.

“You have to face the facts and recoup,” he said. “Nobody’s going to do anything for you. The only foreigners around here were at the clinic.”

The Trou Sable (Hole in the Sand) community clinic, on an extension of Poupelard had become a triage center two weeks after the earthquake when teams of foreign doctors arrived. They stayed for two and a half months, leaving behind a shiny blue stretcher, a dozen crutches and medications that are quickly running out. Rosenie Élysée, the clinic nurse, is on her own now, working without pay and worried.

“I was here alone before, so I’m used to it, but now the community has experienced a well-staffed clinic and free medical care,” she said.

Two weeks after the earthquake, The New York Times surveyed 53 structures on a quarter-mile stretch of Avenue Poupelard and found only six that appeared intact. Yet Poupelard is not flattened; it is a patchwork of bad, worse and worst where a hectic commercial life persists and two destroyed schools have been struggling to resume classes since the Education Ministry declared schools reopened on April 5.

Ten days after that date, parents waited patiently in line to re-enroll their children at the United Hearts School, which counted 1,200 students before it was crushed. Sitting at a folding table in the ruins, the registrar, Jesulu Dorléan Rozan, said a government official had promised to demolish the remains of the 30-year-old school and provide tents.

“But they never came, and we don’t know what’s going on,” Ms. Rozan said. “We’re on our own.”

Judlene Colas, 26, stepped up to the table to register her 3-year-old.

“Oh, Sophie Colas, how is she?” Ms. Rozan asked.“Alive!” Ms. Colas said. “And bored. She’s begging me to go back to school.”

Around the corner, Mr. Jean Louis, who is a pastor, stood atop a pile of concrete chunks beside a mural of Mickey Mouse wearing a mortarboard. The government, he said, demanded an unfathomable $1,000 to remove the rubble from his school; instead he paid laborers a few dollars a day to cart it out, but they dumped it right at the entrance.

“Some of these kids were dug out from rubble, and now they climb over rubble to get into school,” he said.

Several dozen students returned when he set up tarps above long, splintering benches and desks. One was Mika Nozière, 11, who jumped rope on a recent morning. “I’m glad to be back here,” she said, smiling. “At home, I daydream about my sister wearing a white dress and going to church with me. But she died.”

A teacher, Patrick Dieujuste, offered a colloquial lesson in earthquake preparedness to older students. “Sheet-metal roofs are safer than concrete ones,” Mr. Dieujuste said. “One guy ran out of a tin-roofed house and died from the cement block that fell on him outside. So you always have to be vigilant. And don’t lie face down on a floor. If the roof collapses, you could suffocate from the dust.”

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


(AP) - By Jonathan M. Katz

CROIX-DES-BOUQUETS, Haiti — You name it, Camp Corail has got it. And Camp Obama does not.

The organized relocation camp at Corail-Cesselesse has thousands of spacious, hurricane-resistant tents on groomed, graded mountain soil. The settlement three miles (four kilometers) down the road — named after the U.S. president in hopes of getting attention from foreigners — has leaky plastic tarps and wooden sticks pitched on a muddy slope.

Corail has a stocked U.N. World Food Program warehouse for its 3,000-and-counting residents; the more than 8,500 at Camp Obama are desperate for food and water. Corail's entrance is guarded by U.N. peacekeepers and Haitian police. Camp Obama's residents put up a Haitian flag to mark their empty security tent.

The camps, neighbors in the foothills of a treeless mountain, are a diptych of the uneven response to Haiti's Jan. 12 earthquake. More than $12.7 billion has been pledged by foreign governments, agencies and organizations, including $2.8 billion for humanitarian response and another $9.9 billion promised at the March 31 U.N. donors conference.

In one camp, which dignitaries and military commanders visit by helicopter, those billions are on display. A short hop down the road, they barely register.

"We've heard the foreigners have given a lot of aid money. But we're still living the same way as before, and we're still dying the same way as before," said Duverny Nelmeus, a 52-year-old welder-turned Camp Obama resident-coordinator.

Haiti's needs are still enormous, but more than 100 days after the quake, the plan for dealing with them is unclear. Even the death toll is confusing: Government estimates hovered around 230,000 until the U.N. donors conference when, without explanation, the total jumped to 300,000.

There are officially 1.3 million people displaced by the magnitude-7 earthquake. Hundreds of thousands have massed in settlement camps that, like Camp Obama, sprouted with little or no planning. These Haitians live in makeshift tarp homes and shanties, govern their affairs with self-formed security committees and make do with whatever aid arrives.

It was said early on that nearly all the displaced needed to be moved ahead of the arriving rainy season to carefully planned camps like Corail. But it took months to procure land.

By March, aid officials decided instead that people should start going home, saying thousands of houses are still habitable or can be repaired.

It was even better, they said, for most to stay where they were: Agencies deemed just 37,000 people in nine camps at high risk for flash floods, said Shaun Scales of the International Organization for Migration.

But many people are not moving, nor do they want to stay where they are.

Persistent aftershocks and rumors of more to come — President Rene Preval warned of an impending earthquake at a news conference this month — are keeping people from going back.

Private landowners and schools are threatening to evict squatters. Those who remain are suffering.

What they want is a better option. And for a few lucky people, right now, that's Corail. The product of a coordinated effort by aid agencies, the United Nations, the U.S. military, the Haitian government and other entities, it has sprung up seemingly overnight on a cactus patch where the Cite Soleil slum meets the suburb of Croix-des-Bouquets.

There was little here but a few concrete homes, disorganized camps and brush until a few weeks ago, when Preval announced that the government would seize — with compensation for the owners — 18,500 acres (7,490 hectares) of the arid land.

Authorities began moving people in immediately, even before services were in place. Croix-des-Bouquets officials say they were unprepared for the onslaught. Aid groups Oxfam, World Vision and CARE criticized the rush as violating human dignity.

Now ecstatic arrivals are streaming in aboard air-conditioned buses, clutching laminated ID cards with maps of the settlement, wearing green bracelets bearing their names. Nearly all come from the most famous camp in post-quake Port-au-Prince: the Petionville Club golf course, home to 45,000 quake survivors, elements of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne and a gaggle of Hollywood volunteers led by Sean Penn.

Aid workers lead the smiling tenants to their Chinese-made cylindrical tents, pointing out the floodlights, the police tent and where the 342 toilets and 24 showers are being built.

The plan is to stage about 6,000 people here along the 50-acre (20-hectare) "Sector 4" as the rainy season gets under way, even while U.N. trucks, U.S. Navy engineers and aid groups continue construction. Then they will start building sturdier shelters of wood, plastic and metal in adjacent Sectors 2 and 3.

There's no word yet on what will be built in Sector 1, but locals are expecting some major development. Concrete homes and stores are also being built around the new camp.

Manushka Lindor, 23, is among the lucky. She sat in the shady tent with her 3-year-old son, Peterson St. Louis Jr., who squealed "Vroom! Vroom!" as the big construction trucks went by. Just a few hours after arrival, she was already planning to stay.

"I don't have anywhere else to live. If they come here and build a house I can rent, I'd be very satisfied," she said.

Her husband, Peterson St. Louis Sr., pushed a green wheelbarrow full of welcome bounty: a week of ready-to-eat meals for the whole family and hygiene kits with soap, toothpaste, toilet paper and sanitary napkins.

They had been living in the golf-course camp, dealing with crime, mud and danger. One day, Lindor said, a water truck slid backward into a tent and killed two people.

Their new home offers quiet, assistance and a chance for a fresh start. St. Louis, a 27-year-old barber, is setting up shop in the back of the tent with an office chair and a car battery to charge his electric clippers.

Outside it is a different story. Roads are cracked, and rubble lines the route. Twisted webs of steel rebar lie in heaps, collected by residents sick of waiting for help and now setting out to rebuild on their own. Police cars pull over by the side of the road to buy pirated gasoline amid fuel shortages.

In Camp Obama, the help has been spotty and often ineffective. Almost everyone has at least one plastic tarp, the "emergency shelter material," in aid-worker parlance, that was a focus of relief efforts in the months after the quake. But those are leaking and falling apart.

Nobody remembers what aid group came when — the parade of foreigners becomes a blur. Someone left a rubber bladder to hold drinking water, another a black tank for the same. Both are broken and empty.

"We'd thank God for a glass of water," Nelmeus said.

Cuban doctors have come and provided anti-malarial and other medicines, as did some Americans. But while Corail's hospital tent is fully staffed, Camp Obama's is usually empty.

Nelmeus' two children are sick with fever and awaiting treatment.

They cannot go to Corail, where organizers rejected a request by the Croix-des-Bouquets mayor to take in 10,000 homeless squatting on land in his town.

Corail's organizers worry about the discrepancy.

Camp leaders told U.S. Southern Command chief Gen. Douglas Fraser on Wednesday that they have ruled out fences but are debating stepped-up patrols or other measures to keep aid-seeking neighbors out.

Obama residents said they had nothing to worry about: Getting into a better camp isn't their goal.

"The better life is in America. If I went there, I would look like a young man. I would dance," Nelmeus said.


(World Vision)

In the massive, dusty field of coarse gravel that houses the tent city of Corail-Cesselesse, the green plant outside Nanette Lanoix’s tent can be seen a long way off.

It’s too soon to call it a tree, but it represents a new start for her.

“Everything we need for now is here at Corail,” says Nanette, “only it’s very dry and hot.

“We thought some plants would make a difference, plus when they get bigger there will be some shade and some fruit too.”

Nanette, her husband and three children were among the 50,000 survivors who sought refuge at a makeshift camp at a golf course after January’s earthquake.

As Haiti’s rainy season nears, there was an urgent need to move those most at risk from floods and mudslides to a more secure location.

The result of negotiations for land, shelter and support for these at-risk families was Corail-Cesselesse, a camp built outside the capital to house up to 5,000 people safely while they wait for new homes to be constructed.

At first, the family was hesitant to relocate. Nanette’s husband decided to go ahead to check whether it was a good idea for them.

“On the day of his visit, he rang me and said ‘Come tomorrow’,” says Nanette. “And then he planted the first tree.”

The tree is a papaya cutting, about knee height. Nanette’s teenage daughter rolls her eyes and says the plant won’t make it, but Nanette disagrees.

“There are some new shoots already,” she says. “We think it will live.”

Nanette arrived with the children the next day, bringing more seedlings – a tiny lemon, an even smaller lime, and another papaya shoot. They’ve been in the ground around a week – by now, they must be putting down roots.

The family won’t need to water the plants for a while. It rains for most of the night, every night. Nanette says her tent has leaked some nights, other nights it has been OK. She’s surprisingly cheerful about it.

“We keep our food off the floor to keep it dry. We’ve had to hang out our clothes a few times. Things dry quickly though. It can’t be helped.”

Corail won’t be home for too much longer. World Vision is partnering with two other organisations to build transitional homes, with concrete foundations, roofs, rooms and walls – and there will be space for a garden.

The organisation also plans to create small farming opportunities as part of livelihood solutions for the people of Corail community.

Nanette says she will leave her trees here when she moves.

“I don’t mind doing that,” she says. “Somebody else can enjoy them.”

She looks around at the stark surroundings, then shrugs and smiles.

“We made the decision to come here,” she says, “so we may as well make the most of it.”

Monday, April 26, 2010

photos - various - part 1

The highlight of the week was Manu's 12th birthday party! We went to Epidor for a hamburger and fries and then ate a cake back at the house. Manu enjoyed this day. He reminded me for the last few months that April 24th is his birthday. Happy Birthday Manu!

The children were excited today to hear that the Delmas 31 bridge is now broken. The government broke the remainder of the bridge down with this back hoe. Everyone climbed into Kimosabee to drive up the road to see the broken bridge. They enjoyed getting a close-up view of the back hoe!

The children posed for a photo in the scoop.

These 2 men were examing one of the supporting walls of the bridge.

Now this is the new Delmas 31 bypass. Only pedestrian traffic can use this detour.

photos - various - part 2

This mobile knife sharpener has a tough task pushing his cart up the embankment.

The people who need to go up Delmas 31 have no choice but to scramble down the embankment and up the other side.

The Haitian people are very determined to continue on.

Maybe these 2 men were debating trying to scramble over the city water pipe to get to the other side!

I saw one man who was holding the plans for the new bridge. He told me it would be a 2 month project!

photos - various - part 3

We visited the mother of the newborn to see if she had put up her tent that we had given her this past week-end.

She didn't know how to put it up and is still using her tarp shelter.

Most of her neighbors on the Delmas 31 soccer field refuge camp have tents.

We brought over some cement blocks to use as a base for when the rain turns the field to mud and the children are going to help her put up the tent.

The children enjoyed carrying the blocks from the truck to the tent site.

photos - various - part 4

A mother came to the house today to ask us to take in 2 of her children into our school program.

You might not have noticed in the prior picture but her son Siano Josne who is 7-years-old is one of the many amputee earthquake victims. We accepted him into our program here at Coram Deo. Pray for this family as they lost their home and also much more.

Grandy Josne is Siano's older brother. He is 8 years old. He is a new addition to our school program as well.

Our last family tent we gave to Siano's family. A couple of the guys helped them put it up. The mother was thankful.

This 36-year-old woman has diabetes. Because it was untreated she became very emaciated. She is now registered at FHADIMAC which is a haitian diabetes organization. They are very well organized and started her on insulin injections. 2 weeks ago she weighed 71 lbs. She now weighs 76 lbs. Pray for all those in Haiti who suffer from diabetes. One benefit of the earthquake is that insulin is provided free of charge

photos - various - part 5

This man is guarding the rubble of the collapsed Providence guest house which is in our neighborhood. It is amazing but the 1st floor is perfectly intact and we climbed down into the 1st floor to see for ourselves.

On our street this apartment building has "Demolir" in red painted on it. This tells people and the owner that the building is condemned and will need to be demolished.

People are busy removing this house in our neighborhood. It used to be a 2 story home.

Demolition has begun on this 2 story home as well which is also in our neighborhood. 5 people died inside.

While the house was being knocked down further with sledgehammers the roof moved and almost took down the neighbors house. The neighbor raced outside and told them to stop before his house came down. The support column was smashed. It will be difficult to repair this house. He has steel support bars to hold the house together.

photos - various - part 6

Street cleanup around the city is continuing. Progress is slow but it is good to see efforts being made. The guy in front is an american engineer for a sub-contractor who has a contract to clean up public spaces. They were doing some clean up work on Delmas 19.

Later in the afternoon a cleanup crew was on the mayors road between Delmas 31 and Delmas 33. Access was roped off to pedestrian and vehicle traffic. It is funny to see "Do Not Push" on the back of this dump truck. I wonder how you would push a dump truck? You would have to be very strong to do that task I think!

American military provided security for the subcontractors and to make sure that nobody crossed the roped off area! The sub-contractor was using "mini-loaders".

USAID street workers from the mayors office were demolishing a house in the Delmas 33 area. The house number is 13, an "unlucky number" for those who are superstitious.

They are completing cleaning out the property. The rebar gets recycled at the scrap yard. Pray for the rebuilding process. It is going to be a long process.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

haiti update - april 25, 2010

“Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord.”
Psalm 117

Hi! It’s been a busy week getting repairs done to the house. For the last couple of weeks the cement boss and Pastor Pierre have been chiseling out and recementing the earthquake cracks inside the house. There are a lot but they are not serious. Saturday they started repairs to the outside walls of the house. It was a good week to stay at home and supervise the repairs because the gas shortage continued. A tanker arrived in the Port-au-Prince bay but you couldn’t notice the difference at the gas pumps. Many were closed or had long line-ups. People say the gas was saved for the use of government vehicles and to requisition the large NGO’s. Another tanker is on its way so hopefully the gas lines will be eliminated soon. Pray for fuel for Haiti.
We have been timing our house repairs to coincide with the arrival of our next work team, which arrives on Tuesday. The focus for the week will be on completing the dormitory. Jantje Scheele and Andrew Harsevoort will be leading the team. Pray for traveling mercies and for good health!
The school program here at Coram Deo is going well. The children are happy to be back in school and we accepted a few new students into the program. Darlene and Blandine Tarrene are 2 sisters who came with their mother asking for a place in the school program. Their school was destroyed in the earthquake and the school director is not able to reopen at another location or set up a temporary site. Fedna Julien came with her grandfather. She doesn’t know how old she is or her birthdate and neither does the grandfather. The father died in the Dominican Republic a few years ago and the mother abandoned her at her grandfathers’ home. Now we get to make up our own birthdate. It was fun to watch the parents of a couple other children trying to best estimate her age. They told Fedna to open her mouth to get a look at her teeth.
Dieula is a 14-year-old girl whose parents were both killed in the earthquake. She is one of the new students in the program too. Now she has the opportunity to attend school for the first time. She also is now residing here at Coram Deo as of this week. A Haitian family in the community took her in as a foster family but she had troubles with the lady who is looking after her. She came to the house crying this week to say that she had been beaten. I let her stay here at least temporarily until we can find a better placement for her. She sure is acting like a teenager though. Her nickname is “Princess” because she tries to get out of doing chores. She is learning though. The guys at the house won’t let her act this way. Manu is usually the one who comes up to me as the complainer spokesperson for the guys about her behavior. Pray for Dieula as she deals with losing her parents and that she is encouraged in her school learning and that she loses the “Princess” nickname from the guys.
Not all the schools in Port-au-Prince re-opened. Some can’t find an alternate location and some are making repairs or building alternate shelters. The most common temporary sites use tarps, large tents or wood frame with a tin roof. Paulna, Fedner, Johnny and Herold are all attending their schools again as well. Pray for all the schools that are doing whatever they can to save the school year for their students.
For the last few months Manu has reminded me at least once a week that his 12th birthday is April 24th. I think he was worried that I would forget. Saturday afternoon we had a birthday party at Epi Dor and then celebrated with a cake at the house. He was happy to see the big day arrive!
2 of the large refuge camps in our area are located on private grounds. Henfrasa is a fitness center that has a large soccer field area that is now housing refuge tents. The owners have asked the people to move out and a few have but most don’t know where else to go. The same situation exists at the St. Louis de Gonzague school grounds. To accommodate their students large tents provided by Unicef are now housing their students. The government has halted forced removals temporarily while plans are being made of where to put the refugees. Pray that plans can be established to transfer people from private and dangerous locations to a safer locale.
One of the students in our school program died on Saturday. Frandy Jean was a mentally handicapped boy. After the earthquake the family brought him out to the countryside. On Saturday his father brought him back in to Port-au-Prince to seek medical care. He waited too long and Frandy died. Living in the countryside seems to be an easy solution for people but here in Haiti it is difficult. People are forced with the choice of living in difficult conditions here in Port-au-Prince or living in difficult conditions in the countryside where food and healthcare is not readily available. In Frandy’s case it wasn’t the earthquake that killed him but the poor living conditions after that did. Pray for Frandy’s family as they mourn his loss.
A hydrocephalus child that we have been helping for the last while also died last Saturday in hospital. Jonel Colo was not doing well and his mother brought him to General Hospital. His mother did her best to look after him. Many other people would have abandoned him. The people around her were always telling her to throw him away somewhere and were jealous of the help that we gave her. We had given the family a tent as a shelter and one of the people in the refuge camp where they are put cuts in it with a razor blade. She was worried that he would get dumped in a mass grave and we told her to go to Nos Petits Freres et Soeurs Hospital to make contact with Father Rick. Father Rick goes to General Hospital once a week as part of his ministry and buries the bodies in the morgue that families can’t do burials for. She was told to be at General Hospital early Thursday morning so that she could see Jonel for the last time but when she got there his body wasn’t there. We don’t know what happened to his body and what the situation is at the morgue but all I could think of telling her was that maybe Father Rick made a couple of trips and took the body before she got there. Pray for Jonel’s mother. The other people in the refuge camp were teasing her and saying that now that Jonel is dead the “blanc” won’t help her any more. I told her this wasn’t true.
A woman who came to the last clinic that Dr. Karen McCarthy’s team held had untreated diabetes. She was not in good shape and needed support to walk. She was very emaciated. Dr. Karen gave her some pills to help her temporarily and we went to FHADIMAC, which is a diabetes association here in Haiti, a couple of weeks ago. They saw her condition and accepted her into their program. She is 36 years and only weighed 71 pounds. Due to the earthquake the association has received donations of insulin from other countries and the members of the association are now provided with free insulin. 2 weeks later she has already gained 5 pounds and she is working hard by attending the seminars that the association has on living with diabetes. It is good to see people improving! Pray for the efforts of FHADIMAC as they provide care for people with diabetes and high blood pressure.
I was wondering how long it would take before the Delmas 31 bridge would fall into the ravine and most of it now has. There is only ½ of it remaining and the government has now blocked off the road so that vehicles can’t use the bridge anymore. Hopefully they will be able to repair it one day. Now we have to go by way of Delmas 33 to reach main Delmas.
Canada has helped to install some seismic stations here in Haiti. The fault line where the earthquake occurred is still active. Between April 13th and 16th there were 23 aftershocks recorded along the fault located in the Gressier, Jacmel, Leogane, Petit Goaves regions. These aftershocks ranged from 1.7 to 3.8 in intensity. The epicenter of the January 12th earthquake was Leogane. Pray for the ground to settle down.
The International Crisis Group has just released a report entitled “Haiti: Stabilisation and Reconstruction After the Quake”. If you are interested in reading the report follow the link to
That is all the news for today. Have a good week!
Karen Bultje, Coram Deo


(The Philadelphia Inquirer) -By Melissa Dribben

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Three weeks after he nearly died of typhoid, Macelin Pajour rested with his mother in the flimsy shelter that since the earthquake has been their home.

The thin flowered bedsheet tied to wooden poles filtered the sun but provided little relief from the midday heat. Macelin, 12, sat on a kindergartner's wooden chair. His T-shirt advertising one of the city's cell-phone companies hung loosely from the wire hanger of his bony shoulders and nearly reached his knotty knees. At his feet, a toy gecko lay on its side in the dirt.

Speaking barely above a whisper, he described how he got sick. "I had a bad stomachache," he said in Creole. "My head hurt."

The simplicity of his symptoms matched their elemental cause. Like millions of poor children around the world, he'd been drinking water contaminated with bacteria from sewage.

Port-au-Prince has never had a sewage-treatment facility. At best, 25 percent of residents received clean water piped in from the city. Most people buy their water from private vendors. What little infrastructure existed was damaged or destroyed by the earthquake. UNICEF estimates that only half of the three million Haitians whose lives were upended Jan. 12 currently have access to clean water.

Bad water and disease have a dangerously clandestine relationship. The cool drink from a contaminated well may look, smell, and taste perfectly innocent. Often, it takes days or weeks for symptoms to reveal themselves.

At first, Macelin's mother, Monette, thought he was merely traumatized by the earthquake that had destroyed their home and his school and killed neighbors and friends all over the city.

For three days, she stayed beside him on their bed - a layer of flattened cardboard boxes over a plastic tarp. Unable to cool his fever or coax him to eat, she grew more and more frightened. At night, stumbling in the dark, she carried him to the encampment's edge so he could relieve himself or throw up.

On the fourth day, someone gave her money to take the now listless boy to the hospital in a crowded tap-tap - an enclosed pickup truck with wooden benches, Haiti's most common public transport.

Macelin spent the next week and a half on an IV, receiving antibiotics and fluids.

"I thought I was going to die," he said, embarrassed by such a confession. "But then" he rallied. "I was happy because they gave me rice!"

By surviving, Macelin beat long odds.

Each year, diarrhea, primarily caused by bad water, kills 1.8 million people, 90 percent of whom are children under 5, according to the World Health Organization. In Haiti, waterborne illnesses kill one of every 13 children before age 5.

Macelin, who looks more like a 7-year-old than a preteen, often drank unsafe water. As a result, he suffered belly problems, which led to malnutrition, which stunted his growth and made him vulnerable to diseases like the typhoid that nearly killed him.

Monette understood the importance of clean water but could not always afford it. Before the earthquake, the single mother supported her five children on the equivalent of $2 a day as a marchande, a street vendor selling whatever small goods can be found - toothpaste, bouillon cubes, candles. Homeless now and stuck in an encampment in Lilavois 8, on the edge of Port-au-Prince, with 1,075 others, she and her children have been walking half a mile to a public well for the water they need to drink, cook, wash clothes, and bathe. Every sip, every molecule, carries the risk of disease.

On March 26, salvation pulled up in a pickup truck. As life-changing events often do, it arrived unexpectedly via a wildly circuitous route.

The truck belonged to Water Missions International, a Christian relief organization.

WMI had its beginnings in 1998, the year Macelin was born. Honduras had been throttled by a hurricane. Friends working with the relief effort asked George and Molly Greene, who owned an environmental engineering firm in South Carolina, to help. Using parts from a hardware store, Greene and his staff built a simple filtration system.

Once they became aware of the lack of clean water worldwide, the Greenes sold their business and in 2001 started the nonprofit.

Since its founding, WMI has provided purification systems in response to Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami in Indonesia, the earthquake in China, and the cyclone in Myanmar. It also works in poor countries, using clean-water projects as a foundation for long-term development.

Their Haiti program had been faltering for several years when the earthquake struck.

Suddenly, donations poured in, volunteers stepped up, and 20 systems were being shipped to Port-au-Prince. Contracting with a Mennonite organization that drills wells and other such groups, WMI installed 75 systems in three months in and around the city. The group's mission has reached more than 200,000 Haitians, but things have not always gone smoothly. Getting equipment off the container ships has been a bureaucratic nightmare. The group's headquarters, destroyed in the earthquake, relocated to a basement office at the Visa Lodge, a small hotel near the airport. But without a secure storage area, purification units were getting damaged and parts were going missing.

In late March, the operation moved to an expatriate's private property 15 minutes from the city center. Its landscaped gardens, blooming with bougainvillea and mango trees, now store close to 100 hulking purification systems. Each one, completely installed, costs between $10,000 and $20,000.

The units are made up of two milky white plastic vats, each with a capacity of 275 gallons. Water is pumped through sand and charcoal filters, then a chlorinator, before entering the distribution tank. The systems can purify up to 600 gallons an hour.

Church members who raised funds for WMI's Haiti project signed some of the tanks.

"There is hope for the helpless, rest for the weary and love for the broken heart," wrote one girl from Charleston, S.C. "There is grace, forgiveness, mercy and healing that'll meet you wherever you are. Cry out to Jesus!" She signed it "Caroline age 12," and drew an orange flower on a green stem with two elf-eared leaves.

Andre Mergenthaler lined up three glasses of water and a petri dish and waited for the videographer's cue.

"Go ahead," the cameraman nodded, and the handsome young German engineer began a presentation he'd given more times than he could remember.

"It's important to know that clear water is not necessarily clean water," he said, picking up a glass. "Sample 1. You see that? Mosquito larvae."

The camera zoomed in on black threads wriggling in the clear water. "This water may also be contaminated with bacteria from fecal matter. This is why we need to explain to people that chlorine is necessary."

Mergenthaler raised a second glass. The water resembled weak tea. "This is really nasty water," he said. "People all over the world drink it. Millions all over the world die from it. Not the next day."

He toasted the air with the last glass. "Sample 3 is clean water. Ready to drink."

The documentary was commissioned by a major donor who wants to spread the word about the group's work.

It is also intended to spread the word of Christ.

"Christ said if you drink water of the well, you will be thirsty again. But if you drink of the water of life, you'll never thirst," explained Rusty Smith, a Philadelphia businessman who recently spent a month with WMI in Haiti.

Unlike Mergenthaler, Smith, 62, had no engineering background. He grew up in Havertown and after college joined his father's business manufacturing corrugated boxes.

As he neared retirement, Smith and his wife, Robin, grew more involved with their Christian faith. They helped establish a school and shelter for homeless women and children in West Philadelphia.

During a visit to South Carolina, the Smiths attended a church service. On the bulletin board, they saw a flier from WMI seeking volunteers for short-term missions abroad. The Smiths spent the next Sunday afternoon with the founder's son and came away changed.

"We thought, like most Americans, that you go to the tap, there's always enough and you never worry about disease," said Smith. He and his wife committed themselves to WMI's mission. He gave himself a crash course in water engineering and third-world development. Within a year, he had initiated a program in Kenya and was helping to coordinate the East African operation.

That is how he met Mergenthaler, a volunteer who later joined the mission's staff.

Now, the two men found themselves together again, this time in the crumbled, trash-strewn streets of Port-au-Prince.

The day began with a devotion.

Seventeen staff members and volunteers crowded into WMI's air-conditioned basement office. In one corner, a Christmas tree necklaced with red and gold organza ribbons leaned against the wall. Standing in front of a "to-do" list on the wall, Mergenthaler opened a Bible and read from Romans 15.

The verse teaches that "everybody gets his calling from one spirit," he said. Rather than allowing interpersonal differences to distract and divide, teams should work together to help the weak.
Before sunset, the message would prove prophetic.

Long before the earthquake, Haiti was known as "the Republic of NGOs." More than 10,000 groups were dispensing food, training workers, caring for orphans, evangelizing, advising, planting trees, treating the sick, and purifying water.

Attempts to coordinate the nongovernmental organizations had failed. The arrival in January of who knows how many emergency relief teams made the task impossible.

After the massive response to the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, the United Nations adopted a new "cluster" approach, bundling agencies based on their objectives and assigning coordinators to meet, plan, dispatch workers, and disseminate funds.

When the earthquake hit Haiti, the cluster handling water, sanitation, and hygiene got to work.

By early February, it had registered 142 nonprofits and international aid groups.

Representatives were meeting twice weekly to review their progress, and a Web site was continually updated with maps showing how aid was being distributed. WMI works with several groups in the cluster.

Before installing a purification system, the staff visits each site to assess the need and see if there is an adequate water source. Calls come in all day, every day about places that need water. At the end of March, WMI got a tip from one of the members of the U.N. cluster about a large tent city located on a soccer field in central Port-au-Prince.

Mergenthaler set out to find the place. No easy task. The labyrinth of streets in the capital is a mess, blocked by rubble and traffic, tents where people have made their homes, trash fires, spontaneous markets, and scavenging goats, dogs, and pigs.

Driving up one narrow street, he passed a dusty man who seemed to be sleeping on the sidewalk. At the top of the hill, Mergenthaler had to turn around because the road was impassable. On the way back, he saw that the man on the sidewalk had been flipped onto his back.

Mergenthaler gasped. "He's dead!" Tissues were stuffed into the corpse's nose and mouth, and his legs stuck out stiffly off the ground.

"He probably died of dehydration," said one of Mergenthaler's coworkers. It was a plausible theory.

"Can you imagine?" Mergenthaler said. "He was someone's family member and he just disappears. For as long as you live, you hope he's all right and you never know."

After wandering for 21/2 hours and stopping half a dozen times for directions, the WMI team finally found the tent city. An ad hoc leadership committee greeted them in a sweltering tent.
"There is no pure water," said the chief representative, a local radio journalist.

But just outside the tent was a yellow rubber bladder the size of a small swimming pool, framed by cinder blocks. Action Contre La Faim, an international NGO, had supplied the 10,000-liter vessel.

"They come to fill it three times a day," said the leader. "But it's not enough." As far as he knew, the water was meant for washing and cooking only. "The water quality is bad."

Mergenthaler fetched a chlorine kit from his car and dipped a test strip into a water sample.

Seconds later, an aqua line appeared.
"Oh! That's not bad!"

"It's good?" the community leader asked, surprised.

"Good," Mergenthaler said.

"It's drinkable?"

"Yes. It's good water."

On the way back to the car, Mergenthaler dug through his backpack for a blueberry Pop-Tart, but waited to eat until he had passed boys playing near the tents. (With so little food and water available, out of courtesy aid workers don't eat in public.) One boy held a laminated card bearing Bible verses that a WMI volunteer had given him. Another was wearing a bright purple T-shirt that had weirdly found its way from Philadelphia - it bore the logo of a softball team sponsored by the Chestnut Hill Cheese Shop.

Although Mergenthaler still planned to contact ACF to see if there was anything his organization could do to help (there wasn't), the mix-up had consumed half a day and several gallons of gas. Still, he wasn't terribly upset. "Everyone is doing assessments," he said. "There's a certain risk of overlap."

When told of the incident, Paul Sherlock, senior humanitarian for Oxfam, shrugged. In a situation this dismal in a nation this broken, such confusion is common and inevitable, he said. "The system isn't perfect."

Dalebrun Esther had a headache.

Wincing from pain, the heavyset man with the gravelly voice and stubbled chin had come to work nonetheless, hoping his blood-pressure medicine would kick in.

Esther, 45, is the Haitian chemical technician who runs the national office of International Action, an NGO that provides free chlorination systems. He called his staff of nine into his office on a side street in Port-au-Prince to review the day's battle plan.

He'd set Black Flag roach killer on a shelf behind him and a Bausch & Lomb microscope on his old metal desk, along with vials of murky water swimming with wormy things. He wore the group's T-shirt - with a drawing of a woman carrying a bucket on her head and below her the words DLO Pwop, Creole for clean water.

The group had spent four years installing chlorinating units on all of Port-au-Prince's 140 public water tanks. Only 13 tanks survived the earthquake.

Women and children wait for hours each day at neighborhood water kiosks to fill buckets and plastic jerry cans. That water comes from tankers that draw water from the city's wells and purify it by reverse osmosis. (Wealthier Haitians and businesses pay to have the trucks fill their private cisterns.)

Immediately after the disaster, International Action used donations to pay private companies to deliver free water to the poor. But since the end of March, the group's leaders had been planning for the future.

On this day, several workers were dispatched to repair the city's cracked water pipes. Others went to a factory being retrofitted to manufacture water tanks that will replace broken ones. Along with his brother, Samson, and two plumbers, Esther drove eight miles into the mountains to an orphanage.

The drive took them up switchback roads, past parched, scarred cliffs, followed by terraced farms, scrappy villages, and the country mansions of the nation's wealthiest citizens. These last were elaborate homes hidden behind high walls, secured by armed men.

At the top of a mountain, the truck came to a stop. The air was cool here, scented with pine from the dense woods. The orphanage's sign had been freshly repainted. A guard unlocked the gate. Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" blasted from loudspeakers. A basketball game was under way. Other kids were break-dancing or playing on swing sets. Nurses rolled wheelchair-bound children into the sun. Founded in 1988 by Our Little Brothers and Sisters, this was home to 350 orphans, many of them abandoned because of their disabilities.

"Water is always a problem," said Jan Weber, the 32-year-old regional medical coordinator. "We have 30 cisterns on the property, but with so many children, we run out."

Three years ago, Esther's group installed chlorinating filters on six tanks serving the dormitories, classrooms, and dining hall. Since the quake, 10 more had gone up.

"I was happy to receive those. But then, four weeks ago, they agreed to provide all our houses with filters! This is really a great relief," Weber said.

While Esther's plumbers climbed a ladder to a rooftop reservoir, Weber demonstrated how children had gotten their drinking water up until now.

He marked off 365 paces from a padlocked pump beside a playground to the top of a hill where children, ages 8 to 14, were housed.

"The kids had to haul buckets this whole way," he said. Each holds five gallons and weighs about 40 pounds.

The plumbers worked for an hour, installing two chlorinators. When they were done, they planted rainbow flags to mark the treated water towers. Weber handed Esther a check for $700, and they agreed on a date for the next installation. (International Action provides the labor, filters, slow-release chlorine tablets, and maintenance, but cannot afford the construction materials required for the remaining four tanks.)

"For me," Weber said, shaking Esther's thick hand, "to be sure that the water is safe is wonderful."

Projects like this ease the burden on Haiti's beleaguered population and save thousands of lives, said Donna Barry, director of policy and advocacy for Partners in Health, one of the most respected NGOs working in the country.

"But it's the government's responsibility to fulfill their citizens' human rights. That's why, in developed countries, we have huge public water systems."

Haiti has been hobbled for centuries. It has suffered a tortured history, chronic, crushing debt, a long legacy of ill treatment by powerful nations, internal chaos, corrupt governments, a rapacious elite, and a stunning succession of natural disasters.

But none of this is reason to abandon the Haitian people, said Barry.

Partners in Health mostly runs hospitals and clinics. "But the more we delve into water and food issues, the more I find it's the same old public-health rhetoric: cheap and simple for poor countries. It's not a good model."

Haitians have the same rights to clean water as citizens of wealthy nations do, she reasoned. "We have much better solutions in our countries that we need to share."

After the earthquake, public-health experts worried that the country would suffer an even more deadly aftermath. With so many people crowded into tent cities, with insufficient latrines and limited access to clean water, the conditions seemed ideal for a biological apocalypse of cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and hepatitis.

That disaster hasn't happened, at least not yet.

Ironically, the country is probably getting more clean water now - for free - than ever before.
Working with Haitian water authorities, UNICEF has pledged $11.5 million in cash, supplies, staff, and expertise.

But without nonprofits on the ground, said Edward Carwardine, UNICEF spokesman in Haiti, "people wouldn't get access to water, sanitation, and information on hygiene. Everyone has a role to play here. What's important is that people work together. In general, that's what's happening here."

True, Carwardine said, half the city is still without water. "But just the fact that one million people are getting clean water is quite an achievement."

Oxfam's Sherlock feels the same, and like many of his colleagues in the international community holds out hope that this misfortune may mark a turning point.

"The earthquake has been terrible. But it might actually give Haiti the opportunity to rebuild with the enormous amount of international aid that's been committed. The concern, of course, is will the committed money really end up on the ground?"

It had better, he said.

"Because when the next calamity occurs, the world will go there and forget Haiti."

Mergenthaler stepped out of his truck with his team - a logistics expert from South Carolina, a civil engineer from Honduras, a water-purification technician from Haiti, and an unemployed car salesman from Illinois. Squinting from the sun's glare, he tugged the brim of his faded blue baseball cap and looked around.

Dozens of children crowded around to see the strange men and their cargo: big plastic cubes encased in shiny metal cages, seven feet high.

He waded through the scramble of arms and legs and entered a walkway alongside a concrete house. There, surrounded by a thatch of twigs and leaves, he came upon the well - a hole in the ground as big as a laundry basket. Six inches down, he saw his face reflected in the dark water's silvery surface.

The team, aided by volunteers from the tent city, eased the machine off the flatbed and, struggling under its weight, shuffled toward a protected spot in back of the house.

Women assigned to feed the community were preparing lunch. When the WMI team arrived, a pot of beans had just started to boil. By the time the system was in place, the beans had thickened to a rich, brown, bubbling stew.

Kerline Charles, a 40-year-old unemployed nurse, watched the team cut pipes and attach hoses. She would be trained to operate and maintain the machine, then would meet with the leaders of surrounding compounds to teach them how to get drinking water from the taps without damaging the equipment.

Charles' 17-year-old daughter, Isabelle, watched from the frail shade of a half-dead tree. "Je deteste le pays," she said. "I hate this country." She dreams of being a diplomat and traveling far away.

"Ready?" a technician said, then flipped the switch. The diesel motor growled. A metal cylinder bobbled inside a gauge, and water began to flow through the filters and into the tanks.

Twenty minutes later, the team tested the chlorine level, then opened a tap. Clear water burst into their faces.

Later that afternoon, Charles would visit the tent where Macelin Pajour was resting with his mother to tell them the news.

"L'eau est bonne." The water is good.

Water Missions International
1-866-280-7101 (toll free)
Box 31258
Charleston, S.C. 29417

International Action
808 L Street S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20003