Photographers' Blog

The day after, a year later

January 12, 2011

Something has changed in Port-au-Prince a year after the January 12th earthquake. The desperate screams of pain that followed the disaster have been converted into silent, enduring tears.

Lucnika Mayoute, 8, cries while she waits for her parents after her cholera treatment inside a clinic set up by the International Red Cross in Port-au-Prince January 10, 2011. When the ground shook Haiti on a Caribbean winter afternoon a year ago, toppling homes like cards and killing around 250,000 people, world leaders promised quick action to ease the human tragedy and rebuild the country. REUTERS/Kena Betancur

At times it seems that the quake was just yesterday. Many streets look more like the aftermath of a bomb than a natural disaster. During a religious mass to honor the victims in the country’s only soccer stadium, a speaker at the microphone asked all those who lost loved ones to raise their hands. The surge of rising hands sounded like the deep sigh of thousands.

People sing at the Festival of Hope, a rally led by Franklin Graham, son of U.S. evangelist Billy Graham, at a soccer stadium in downtown Port-au-Prince January 9, 2011. Haiti will this week mark the first anniversary of the earthquake that killed around 250,000 people and wrecked much of the capital Port-au-Prince on Jan 12, 2010. REUTERS/Allison Shelley

A half-naked woman bathed in a mud puddle, looking ill, sad and homeless, offering a portrait of the country that suffers and whose cries for help haven’t reached enough ears.

A woman bathes in a pool of water in downtown Port-au-Prince January 9, 2011. When the ground shook Haiti on a Caribbean winter afternoon a year ago, toppling homes like cards and killing around 250,000 people, world leaders promised quick action to ease the human tragedy and rebuild the country. A year on, the Western Hemisphere's poorest country is still reeling from the earthquake, and the international community's capacity to deliver and sustain aid effectively is being sorely tested. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

The quake rubble seems the same as a year ago. That same dust from the broken buildings and unrepaired streets mixes with smoke from burning trash, giving the city a permanent cap of what looks like dusty smog reflecting the midday sun.

Orich Florestal (L), 24 and Rosemond Altidon, 22, stand on the edge of their partially destroyed apartment of Port-au-Prince January 9, 2011. Haiti will this week mark the first anniversary of the earthquake that killed around 250,000 people and wrecked much of the capital Port-au-Prince on Jan 12, 2010. REUTERS/Allison Shelley

The days seem long in Haiti, with the sensation of “the day after.” Haitians still live a survival routine, waking up to the same nightmare for the past 365 days.

To a great number of people there are few defenses against the forces trying to shorten their lives – the cholera epidemic, malnutrition, and violence. The cholera bacteria which can be controlled with a little chlorine bleach, has already killed more than 3,750.

A boy plays in a refuse-clogged canal in Port-au-Prince January 9, 2011. When the ground shook Haiti on a Caribbean winter afternoon a year ago, toppling homes like cards and killing around 250,000 people, world leaders promised quick action to ease the human tragedy and rebuild the country. A year on, the Western Hemisphere's poorest country is still reeling from the earthquake, and the international community's capacity to deliver and sustain aid effectively is being sorely tested. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Today, the nation’s pride is a brave soccer team whose players are missing arms and legs lost in the quake. Many play on crutches. One player, Mackendy Francois, spoke of how he survived the quake by amputating his own leg to free himself from under the rubble.

The Zaryen team goalkeeper jumps for the ball during a friendly match against Haiti's national amputee team in Port-au-Prince January 9, 2011. Haiti will this week mark the first anniversary of the earthquake that killed around 250,000 people and wrecked much of the capital Port-au-Prince on Jan 12, 2010. REUTERS/Kena Betancur

Haitian soccer players of the Zaryen team (blue) and the National amputee team (white) fight for the ball during a friendly match in Port-au-Prince January 9, 2011. Haiti will this week mark the first anniversary of the earthquake that killed around 250,000 people and wrecked much of the capital Port-au-Prince on Jan 12, 2010. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Nights in the center of the city, the city of tents and homeless nights under the elements, are like a pitch-dark lion’s den a year after the day the world changed, when a quarter of a million lives were lost.

Men walk past crucifixes at a mass grave site at Titanyen on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince January 11, 2011. Haiti will this week mark the first anniversary of the earthquake that killed around 250,000 people and wrecked much of the capital Port-au-Prince on Jan 12, 2010. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Comments
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As a 20 year mission director for HAITI, I agree that progress is hard to see in the physical face of Haiti, but I sense a mental and spiritusl chsnge in many of the people we serve. I believe that the common people want to change the way they are governed and they are gaining strength to make it happen. It is my hope that the election challenge by the OAS will be upheld and a new vote will be allowed. Let the people have a voice. Peace and progress for Haiti will only happen through a total change of power in the country.

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