A Day in the Life of Haiti's Tent Cities

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Monday, 07 June 2010 19:47
Katie Kane, an associate profeesor of English at the University of Montana, recently traveled to Haiti to spend 24 hours living in the Camp Croix des Prez in Port-au-Prince. Kane was invited by KOFAVIV, a Haitian women's organization and through her experience is able to convey life in the camps with a level of detail that is often lacking in reports from traditional journalists. After being told that the 68 people died during the earthquake at the site of the camp, Kane writes:
He gestures around the camp while he tells me, “We are standing on their bodies; they are under us, and we walk on them every day.”

In a statement that somehow sums up the general situation of failure on the part of the international aid organizations in Haiti, Jean says, “No one has come to help us to get them out.” It is a phrase I will hear many times over before I leave the camp: “No one has come to help.”

Perhaps the most chilling description is of the situation in the camps when the rains begin:
I am dry, but in the camp houses are coming apart and falling down. The people are awake and wet. Men and women, grandparents and children, all are awake, I am sure of that. As they told us, when it rains, they have to stand up ankle deep in mud and water inside their homes, to keep themselves and whatever possessions they can hold from getting completely drenched.
Kane questions why attention has turned away from Haiti, and why conditions are still so horrible despite all the billions of dollars pledged. She finishes with a plea:
But, this forgetting, this global turning away, is not final. We must find a way to truly see into Haiti’s camps. We must truly try to understand the lives and suffering of the people who live there. We must insist that the money we helped raise and gather for our fellow human beings be spent wisely, but spent now, and spent in consultation with Haitian people at the grassroots as well as governmental levels.

Tags: camps | displacement | idp | konfaviv