Haiti earthquake: Outside Port-au-Prince, Haitians say they've been forgotten
Residents of the former colonial town of Léogâne say the outside world has neglected them in the scramble to help Haiti's beleaguered capital, Port-au-Prince. A view from the epicenter of last week's 7.0 earthquake.
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They have erected wooden poles, and hammered tin sheets in place for walls and a roof.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Staff shots: Scenes from the Haiti earthquake
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“We are waiting for the international community to come here and help us,” says Ms. Sagesse, holding up a photo of her dead child. “We do not know why they have not come.”
But aid is coming.
One week later, relief starts
Shortly after her comments, an aid organization drove past the plaza here, but did not stop. Later, a military helicopter flew overhead, as residents looked expectantly to the sky. Sri Lankan officers from the United Nations closed off a bridge and stretch of a highway to operate as an airstrip for relief efforts. Officer Anil Gunawarre says that one plane landed Sunday, carrying water.
The White Helmets from Argentina also arrived Sunday with a team of 17 doctors. They had already performed 600 treatments and delivered two babies, says an exhausted Esteban Chala, the chief coordinator for the group, who says that demand was so high when they arrived – the first medical team to get there, he says, nearly five days after the quake – that they performed them in an open field. They have eight seriously injured patients who require hospital treatment, but he says they were turned away from Port-au-Prince because all facilities are saturated.
“We need double the amount of doctors,” he says. “The people here need food and water, and there is nothing.”
Back in the corner of the Lemaire family, who distill moonshine from sugarcane stored in big wooden barrels, lives, neighbors say that not a single aid worker has come to see them.
“It is the same common story. The outlying areas are always forgotten,” says Fritz Lemaire.
The 10 of them are sleeping in their front yard, where piles of kindling collected for fire to melt sugar sits in a pile, their mattresses plopped down next to chicks prancing across the mud and dirty pigs roaming around. Some do not have a single sheet, and they worry about what will happen when the rains come.
The smell of rotting flesh overpowers the air next to the Lemaire house, and they say they worry about disease if rescue teams do not come soon.
Hardly a single structure stands on their street, called Rue Poudriere, and even though they are trying to support one another, each of them has losses few can imagine.
Even in this deeply spiritual country, where so many have said that the earthquake must be their country´s fate, they worry about their faith being shaken.
“The church is gone,” says Amulette Agustin, an elderly woman, walking barefoot down the street. That, she says, it what saddens her the most.