The day after, a year later
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.