[News] Haitians are Helping Haitians
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jan 28 11:06:25 EST 2010
January 28, 2010
On the Ground in Port au Prince
Haitians are Helping Haitians
By BILL QUIGLEY
Hundreds of thousands of people are living and sleeping on the ground
in Port au Prince. Many have no homes, their homes destroyed by the
earthquake. I am sleeping on the ground as well - surrounded by
nurses, doctors and humanitarian workers who sleep on the ground
every night. The buildings that are not on the ground have big
cracks in them and fallen sections so no one should be sleeping inside.
There are sheet cities everywhere. Not tent cities. Sheet
cities. Old people and babies and everyone else under sheets held up
by ropes hooked onto branches pounded into the ground.
With the rainy season approaching, one of the emergency needs of
Haitians is to get tents. I have seen hundreds of little red topped
Coleman pup tents among the sheet shelters. There are tents in every
space, from soccer fields and parks to actually in the
streets. There is a field with dozens of majestic beige tents from
Qatar marked Islamic Relief. But real tents are outnumbered by sheet
shelters by a ratio of 100 to 1.
Rescues continue but the real emergency remains food, water,
healthcare and shelter for millions.
Though helicopters thunder through the skies, actual relief of food
and water and shelter remains mimimal to non-existent in most neighborhoods.
Haitians are helping Haitians. Young men have organized into teams
to guard communities of homeless families. Women care for their own
children as well as others now orphaned. Tens of thousands are
missing and presumed dead.
The scenes of destruction boggle the mind. The scenes of homeless
families, overwhelmingly little children, crush the heart.
But hope remains. Haitians say and pray that God must have a
plan. Maybe Haiti will be rebuilt in a way that allows all Haitians
to participate and have a chance at a dignified life with a home, a
school, and a job.
One young Haitian man said, "One good sign is the solidarity of the
world. Muslim doctors, Jewish doctors, Christian doctors all come to
help us. We see children in Gaza collecting toys for Haitian
children. It looks very bad right now, but this is a big opportunity
for the world and Haiti to change and do good together."
Bill Quigley is Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional
Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He is a
Katrina survivor and has been active in human rights in Haiti for
years with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. He can
be reached at: <mailto:duprestars at yahoo.com>duprestars at yahoo.com.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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