Survival, Life, and Dreams in a Port au Prince Tent City
Today we pitched our tents in a camp for internally displaced people in Carrefour. Nearly 8,000 people converged on this spot to seek refuge after their homes collapsed in the earthquake. A sprawling city of flimsy, make shift tents sprang up as earthquake survivors were desperate to construct some sort of shelter. Skyler Badenoch and our team in Haiti came in from the province of Les Cayes to help establish a medical clinic here within 48 hours of when the first and most devastating quake struck. Six months later, 8,000 people are still living here. As we walked through the camp, some of them opened up and gave us a glimpse of what they lived through and how they survive today.
The first person I met was a five-year old boy who grabbed my hand and held it as we walked around one of the camps. He held on the way my son Jack holds my hand when we cross a street or when he just wants to feel the love and comfort of his father. The little boy’s name is Ailey and his own father perished in the quake.
In another part of the camp we met a six-year old girl named Junie. As a favor to her parents, Junie’s Aunt Mary left her apartment around 4:00 pm on January 12th to pick her up from school. Moments after they met outside the school, the earthquake struck. Both of Junie’s parents were killed and all the people in Mary’s four-story apartment building perished.
Mary and Junie share much more than a tent together in Carrefour. Because of each other and by the grace of God, their lives were spared. And just as their lives have been woven together by the threads of tragedy, hope and solidarity, so have the lives of all the people living in this camp. They survived the quake and will rebuild… together.
Junie’s dream is to be a nurse and in a few weeks, she will graduate from kindergarten. The only path to her dream is through education.
Tomorrow we’ll talk more about how education can make a long-term impact here in Haiti. The bottom line…we have a lot of work to do!