Diary from Haiti: Living on in Port-au-Prince

by Judith Kühl,  2010/01/27

She coordinates the journalistic work of the media representatives accompanying our team, arranges interviews, relieves the other coordinators and reports on the aid work by herself as in this “diary from Haiti”. Judith Kühl, reporting from a destroyed city, between hope and fear.

26th of January 2010, 13.10 local time

Life is slowly returning to relative normality in the streets of Port-au-Prince. Certainly, people are still far from normal everyday life, yet, slowly, the days of absolute chaos we experienced directly after the disaster, seem to approach their end.

Nevertheless, the signs on the housewalls saying „We need help! We need food here!“ are still there. Long waiting lines of people form everywhere where aid organizations hand out water and food or offer medical help.

Thanks to the support of BILD HILFT e. V. - Ein Herz für Kinder, this helicopter can also be used by the humedica team for their work. Foto: humedica

Also at the humedica hospitals, the demand for medical care is not declining. Still, many people are roaming the town, carrying their remaining belongings over their shoulder; they seem to be in search of a new beginning.

This reminds me of the words of the Haitian ambassador, H.E. Jean-Robert Saget, who said on one of the days after the disaster: "When referring to time, Haiti will from now on refer to two eras: the one before January 12th, 2010 and the one after.”

Still, day after day, that horrible stench of death and the debris inevitably remind you of the disaster. Many of the survivors are still fighting physical injuries, almost everyone is mourning family members.

Help from abroad has reached Haiti, yet by far not all of the victims. International aid has to continue in the future. On no account will Haiti be able to bear the consequences of the quakes alone.

Nevertheless, some small signs of normality are beginning to reappear in the streets. Today, for example, for the first time I could see cleaning workers deployed by the city, who swept the streets and removed garbage. Numerous fruit and vegetable vendors are sitting on the sidewalks between garbage, traffic and rubble.

Business goes on. Banks are reopening and, under police protection, a few supermarkets have also reopened. Telephone and mobile phone networks are still overloaded, yet are available again, at least occasionally.

A young man tells me that he has lost everything due to the quake. His house, his job and many of his family members. For days, he has been wandering the streets of Port-au-Prince carrying his backpack that is almost empty.

„I need a new job“, he says. The suffering and grief are so intense, help is still desperately needed. Those who survived the quakes are searching for a new beginning.

What will their future look like? Foto: humedica

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