Haiti – Days 5 thru 7

Posted by Ted on Mar 11, 2010 in Causes, Travel

I am lying on a bench in a field next to the U.N. compound, and a dog has been barking for at least an hour. The Canadians just pulled out today, having declared that the emergency is over. It’s far from.

Not only have there continued to be tremors on the island, but the rainy and hurricane seasons start soon and there are still a lot of people in tents. The ones that I’d seen in the streets earlier was simply overflow. Last night I was taken by one of the local Haitian volunteers to one of the larger evacuation camps. Imagine a walled football field turned into a tent city, with security only at the two gates. Hundreds of displaced families spilled out of olive-drab temporary homes, and I was the only ‘blanca’ in sight. It was truly sobering, but the moment that I remember most was the simple act of a young boy wanting a high-five. I was also taken to a bordello, where I politefully declined saying that I loved my wife very much. At camp, the volunteer was chastised for endangering me. While nothing happened, a fight could have broken out at either place, and the camp had a riot with arrests the day before. Everyone was right of course, even I knew that, but I’m thankful for the experience to have seen the camp at night.

We finished the grade school on Tuesday, to the point that another group may take over reconstruction. The last two days have been at L’Ecole Trinite, a college where there were a lot of deaths. We don’t know how many, and there may still be more. We’re scared of the ground floor which is under the rubble. The work has been relentless. We have spent 14 hours clearing just one section of crumbled cement and rocks, about 20′x20′ and 4′ high. It’s Thursday, and the only way I can see myself through tomorrow is that it’s Friday. I will need the two weekend days just to heal from the onslaught that by back and hands have taken.

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An adventurer at heart, Ted Beatie is at his happiest when he’s off the beaten path. His deepest passion is sharing the world through photography and writing, found at The Pocket Explorer. He is also managing editor for Rolf Potts' Vagabonding, where he curates a Case Study series. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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