On the six-month anniversary of the Haiti earthquake, Save the Children's Amy Burns reports from Port au Prince exclusively for marieclaire.co.uk
On the six-month anniversary of the Haiti earthquake, Save the Children’s Amy Burns reports from Port au Prince exclusively for marieclaire.co.uk
Monday 4 July
Descending into Port au Prince, I see that very few building still stand. From the air the city looks like a grey, rubble filled building site. Chinook helicopters are dotted around the airport and the UN presence is unmissable. Although it’s now six months since the earthquake hit, it’s instantly obvious that Haiti is a long way from recovery. Driving through the hot, dusty city, we pass tens of makeshift camps. I see a man in his makeshift tent hunched over his laptop. Young and old, poor and rich, no one was immune to the earthquake that lasted less than a minute but left 1 million homeless.
Tuesday 5 July
As we drive, I study the few houses that still remain. On each house wall, there are a series of letters in red, yellow or green. I am told that these represent the structural stability of the buildings. Those with green writing are safe; those with yellow writing need minor repairs, and those with red need to be pulled down. We visit a camp in which Save the Children has provided safe clean drinking water, latrines and sanitation. Speaking with a young mother, she explains this not only helps her and her baby survive, it also gives her back some of the dignity that the quake took away. The camp is built into a steep hillside and I find climbing to the top tough. The hurricane season has now begun and for the last two nights there have been torrential rains. As I sleep in my hotel that night, I can’t help thinking about the thousands that will be sleeping under crude plastic sheets on steep hills prone to landslides.
Wednesday 6 July
Driving is practically impossible here. Journeys of a few miles can take hours as huge chunks of road are simply gone. We had to turn back twice today as last night’s torrential rains triggered landslides that closed roads. When we finally make it to the camp, we visit safe play areas run by Save the Children. These provide an essential safe place for children to play, learn and recover. I watch as kids sing, dance, play basketball and make bracelets out of discarded plastic packing. I meet one little boy who was injured in the earthquake, but managed to get out and save his mother. He tells me he wants to be a doctor when he grows up so he never has to see his mother suffer again. Despite everything, these children are positive with passionate hopes and dreams for the future.