Lead Stories
Associated Press/Photo by Gerald Herbert

Leaving Port

Haiti | Beyond the capital city are rural communities equally devastated by the quake and in need of help

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti-The day begins early in the capital city: In the middle of packed streets, whole families rouse from sleep as the sun comes up, stumbling out of makeshift tents crammed along the entire length of cracked medians. Others huddle under tarps and sheets that cover the open space in small parks and soccer fields, a sign they are either now homeless or afraid to return to homes that might be structurally damaged.

On another street corner, some 200 people form a growing mass at a tiny bus stop, waiting for the multi-colored school buses that have long bustled through the streets of Port-au-Prince. But nine days after the city's 7.0-magnitude earthquake, many of the buses aren't heading across town-they're heading away from town, loaded with the few possessions some people have left: a chair here, a bundle of clothes there. Two mild aftershocks Thursday morning deepen fears that leaving the city may be best.

As Haitians flee Port-au-Prince in search of critical supplies of food and water, many may not realize what awaits them-more need for miles and miles. As non-governmental organizations and news media pour into the overwhelmed city, fewer seem to be focused on the needs of rural communities with equally overwhelming needs.

We see you’ve been enjoying the content on our exclusive member website. Ready to get unlimited access to all of WORLD’s member content?
Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.
(Don’t worry. It only takes a sec—and you don’t have to give us payment information right now.)

Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.

At a community well just outside of Port-au-Prince, a group of villagers crowd around the only water source, washing clothes, taking baths, and gathering drinking water. As a Samaritan's Purse worker tests the quality of the water, Franklin Marceus waits for help. He's ridden his bicycle here, hoping aid workers would show up. He wants us to visit his community a few miles down the road, devastated by quake damage.

The centerpiece of Marceus' village was an orphanage that housed 30 young children. On a tiny dirt road piled high with rubble, Marceus points out what remains of the children's home: a mostly collapsed structure, completely uninhabitable. Twenty-nine of the children escaped; a handicapped 10-year-old girl died. Down a twisting series of gutted roads, Marceus shows us where the children now live: a series of tattered tents on a tiny, shadeless patch of dirt, already baking in the morning sun and blanketed with the smell of sewage and burning trash.

The women who tend the orphans look tired as they tend to a small fire and a pot of food to feed nearly three-dozen people. The children look happy to see attention from the outside world, smiling broadly and holding our hands as we walk through what's left of their neighborhood. What will happen to the children now that village families can't care for themselves? "We really don't know," replies Marceus.

At a nearby camp, dozens more Haitians wonder what will happen to them. They're packed into makeshift shacks outside a makeshift medical clinic treating quake victims. As the heat grows more stifling, a woman recovering from a leg amputation shifts uncomfortably on a thin blanket under the shade of a pink sheet. On a nearby folding table under a tarp covering, a volunteer doctor tends to small baby, lancing an infected groin with limited anesthesia as the baby wails in pain. Chris Buresh, an assistant clinical professor of emergency medicine at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, is helping lead the effort at the camp, working in cooperation with Japanese medical personnel that have set up an X-ray machine and surgical rooms. They need both, says Buresh, "We're seeing mostly amputees."

Villagers outside the city say the UN has visited, and a handful of U.S. Army trucks roll through the streets. But widespread aid isn't visible in these areas, even as city-dwellers stream toward them.

After a water treatment assessment by Samaritan's Purse in the tiny town of Petit-Goave, Gideon Sanon, a pastor of a local Apostolic church, says the people in his church aren't losing heart. "We're believing the Lord will take care of us, and praying that He will send us help," he says. "But mostly, we're just praising Him that we are still alive."

Related coverage:


'Still in shock' | Haiti is hit by a massive earthquake followed by aftershocks, with an epicenter near the capital, Port-au-Prince | Mindy Belz and Jamie Dean | Jan. 12, 2010
Helping Haiti | WORLD provides a list of relief organizations accepting donations to assist earthquake victims in Haiti | The Editors | Jan. 13, 2010
Search and rescue | U.S. disaster experts, the U.S. military, and private relief groups head to earthquake-devastated Haiti | Mindy Belz | Jan. 13, 2010
In the dark | Haitian-Americans hope to contact loved ones and quickly send aid back home to family and friends | Alisa Harris | Jan. 13, 2010
Weeping and waiting | Haitian earthquake victims await help, but obstacles slow relief efforts | Jamie Dean | Jan. 14, 2010
Desperation | Too many Haitians are in a holding pattern awaiting aid, as relief organizations try to make progress | Jamie Dean | Jan. 15, 2010
Long night | With tens of thousands of casualties, Haitians weep and wait for morning | Jamie Dean | Jan. 15, 2010
Deliverance | A group of orphans arrive safely in Pittsburgh while relief organizations report progress in Haiti | Mindy Belz | Jan. 19, 2010
Crying for help | Hard-pressed Haitians seek assistance as aid groups face logistical challenges | Jamie Dean | Jan. 21, 2010
The new normal | As life and death continue their morbid mingling, relief groups forge ahead to help | Jamie Dean | Jan. 22, 2010
Finding home | Now that search-and-rescue efforts have been called off, attention turns to providing shelter for survivors | Jamie Dean | Jan. 23, 2010
Chaotic aid | Relief groups attempt to help Haitians despite murky rules, government interference, and the lack of a cohesive plan | Jamie Dean | Jan. 28, 2010
Aftershock | Caregivers predict a second wave of death, as Haitians find moments of deliverance amid days of devastation from one of the modern world's worst natural disasters | Jamie Dean | Jan. 29, 2010
Homecoming | For Haitians orphaned before the quake, it means leaving home and starting over | Alisa Harris | Jan. 29, 2010
Crisis giving | Instant need calls for long-term strategy | Rusty Leonard | Jan. 29, 2010
An indecent grief | First lamentations, then comfort that strengthens more than soothes | Mindy Belz | Jan. 29, 2010
Hope for Haiti? (audio file) | Hear WORLD news editor Jamie Dean discuss her visit to the earthquake-ravaged country | Nick Eicher | Feb. 1, 2010
Despair and salvation | While the UN grapples with unruly crowds, The Salvation Army peacefully distributes food | Jamie Dean | Feb. 2, 2010
Crossing lines | Failing to heed sound advice, 10 Americans now find themselves facing kidnapping charges in Haiti | Jamie Dean | Feb. 4, 2010
Haiti's plight (audio file) | A discussion of the country's days of devastation and moments of deliverance | Jamie Dean | Feb. 5, 2010
Stress management | Helping Haitians recover takes zeal-with wisdom | Jamie Dean | Feb. 12, 2010
Taking charge | In quake aftermath, build new cities, says Haitian ambassador (and Bible translator) Raymond Joseph | Mindy Belz | Feb. 12, 2010
Houses of God | Grand-Goave, Haiti | The Editors | Feb. 12, 2010
Living water | Water Missions International offers long-term solutions for clean, drinkable water | Angela Lu | Feb. 13, 2010
Building blocks | While Christian Aid Ministries provides for the immediate needs of quake victims, it looks ahead to helping the country rebuild | Angela Lu | Feb. 16, 2010
Close quarters | ActionAid helps homeless Haitians deal with sanitation and security issues at camps set up in Port-au-Prince | Angela Lu | Feb. 23, 2010
Hardest hit | With nearly half a million orphaned children before the quake, Haiti's challenge to parent them just got bigger | Jamie Dean | Feb. 26, 2010
The search for miracles | Port-au-Prince is a city desperately seeking turnaround-and that's before the earthquake | Jamie Dean | March 12, 2010
Hope in the darkness | World Hope International offers Haitians practical assistance and spiritual guidance | Angela Lu | March 24, 2010
Night crawlers | A new disaster threatens defenseless women and children in Haitian tent cities: rape | Jamie Dean | March 25, 2010
Homecoming | Missionary Patrick Lataillade, who nearly died in the quake, returned to help Haitians this week | Angela Lu | March 27, 2010
Hashing out Haiti | As the UN makes recovery plans, Haitians struggle for the basic necessities for survival | Jamie Dean | March 31, 2010

Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the national political beat and other topics as news editor for WORLD. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.

Comments

You must be a WORLD member to post comments.

    Keep Reading

     

    Good credit

    Competency-based programs offer college credentials without the debilitating cost

     

    Soaring sounds

    Three recent albums highlight the aesthetic and emotional range…

     

    Numbers matter

    Understaffing the U.S. effort in Iraq from the beginning…

    Advertisement