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Haiti earthquake aftermath: A baby and a plea for help

A Monitor photographer experiences the state of Haiti's recovery on a very personal level.

By Staff photographer of The Christian Science Monitor / March 7, 2011

Rosemary Charisme holds her grandson, Stevenson, with his mother, Nicole Thelusma. The family wants to give the boy up for adoption because they can't afford to take care of him. They live in the tent camp on the Champs de Mars plaza that looks out on the collapsed presidential palace. One year after the devastating earthquake that left more than 200,000 people dead and more than a million homeless, not much progress on rebuilding has been made.

Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff

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Stevenson is just a few months old. His father died in the earthquake that hit Haiti a year ago. His mother, Nicole, is leaning against the doorjamb. His grandmother, Rosemary, holds him. The three of them live together, packed inches from their neighbors, across from the wrecked presidential palace in one of the impromptu camps that formed after the earthquake left more than a million homeless.

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I had been in Port-au-Prince about a week, reporting the quake's aftermath. On the way to a photo location my driver had parked our SUV near Rosemary and Nicole's tiny home, and, as I walked by, Rosemary motioned for me to come over. What does she want? I asked my translator. He talked to her, then looked at me. She wants you to take the baby home with you, he said. She wants you to keep him. I hadn't interviewed or photographed the family. They simply saw a foreigner and decided Stevenson would have a better life with me – a complete stranger – than with his own family, a family that couldn't afford to care for him and his two siblings. I explained that I couldn't take Stevenson with me, but that, hopefully, one of the many aid agencies could help. Rosemary wouldn't give up. "Just hold him," she said, hoping I would change my mind. "Just hold him," she urged again.

This is the story I tell to explain to people how the recovery is going in Haiti.

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