Thursday, May 6, 2010

P.E.Q. T. E. (post-earthquake thoughts and experiences) PART 1

Well, I am on my way home and I figured I might as well start to jot down some thoughts about my trip. Mostly, I just can’t believe how fast 2 weeks can go by! Crazy! And Lame!
So…thoughts, notes, experiences, etc…
I drove in Port a few days after I arrived to drop a volunteer off at the airport and pick up a few things for HCH. On my way in I had seen a few glimpses of the effects of Jan. 12th, but not too much in the airport area. It blew my mind.I have NEVER seen anything like the effects of a huge earthquake firsthand, and it was really hard to absorb. I had seen many,many pictures, but actually seeing the destruction was quite devastating. I think it hit home the most when I saw the little store that we used to go to to do back-room-money-for-cheque-exchanges with the friendly Syrians(it’s not nearly as shady as it sounds). It was in a three story building that had been reduced to 2. The first floor was completely flattened. You could have literally walked in the door of what used to be a second floor store, now right at street level. I hadn’t known until that point that “One-Stop” had been destroyed and no one around seemed to know anything about our Syrian friends, or the super-nice owner Terrick who used to give us discounts and stuff that wasn’t selling in the store. This really threw me for a loop and thankfully we were just a couple blocks from one of our destinations cuz I wasn’t in a good state for driving in crazy Port-au-Prince. I was really thankful to find out that everyone inside had managed to make it out before the building fell! AMAZING! Hope to see those friends next time I am in Haiti. Word is they are planning to start over in a new spot.
Building after building was closed and blocked off, merchants making use of the miles of now free-for-all fencing and such to display their goods. There is rebar poking out all over like a pile of pick-up-sticks, and everwhere you look, piles of cement arranged just-so in an attempt to be neat despite the overwhelming amount of rubble. And this is almost 4 months later! Still so much to do, and yet there was no mistaking the reality that the Haitian people have and continue to pull themselves out of the rubble. One of the hardest things I think to absorb was the tent cities that have sprung up in every nook and cranny not already taken up with a house or the remnants of a house. There were some streets that are now one way because one side of the street has become the property of the people who have literally been forced to camp out on the street. In some places, there were even tents set up on the meridian dividing traffic flowing in opposite directions. And by tents, I don’t always mean actual tents. Many were wanna-be shelters, made up of bits of cloth and plastic, and for the lucky ones, also a tarp, somehow stitched together like a giant puzzle, attached to some piece of wood or PVC pipe.
Made my tent look like Chateau Lake Louise.
It rained like nothing I have seen for a long time in Haiti on Sunday night….I almost started complaining. Then I thought of the fact that my tent was still dry (which was not the case for all of us at HCH actually….definitely had some stuff to dry out) and that we had the edge of the house to escape to during the majority of the downpour. Seriously, the majority if the yard was a lake. And a large number of Haitians had nowhere to go, the floor of their “tents” the very lake we watched grow in our yard. I got an even bigger understanding of this when I flew out today, the usual green-ishness of Haiti seen from the sky scarred with hundreds and hundreds of little blue dots, tarps housing those who had lost so much a few short months ago.


Nadia said...

can't wait to hear the rest of the story..I know exactly which little store you are talking about..and can picture the little shady sounding back room money changing spot..we stocked up on vanilla there..and did some back room shady sounding money changing too :)

kayder1996 said...

This just literally makes me cry. I just cannot fathom what life will be like/is like for those people living in tents. And I cannot imagine how crazy and chaotic life in PAP must be. And all the public health worries (no sewage or garbage, the rebar sticking up out of everywhere, piles of rubble) I am overwhelmed just by my thoughts.

Helen said...

My heart still aches so much for these people too. Thank you for sharing the hard stuff, Lori.