In the weeks since I arrived in Port-au-Prince to cover the earthquake, the streets have been cleared of debris and thousands of bodies have been removed from the rubble. But in many ways, the changes seem incremental.
In Cite Soleil a small improvised camp looks a lot the same, only it’s grown in size. Thousands of families continue living under blue plastic tarps, and they receive food from aid groups fighting against time as the rainy season approaches. When I left, on March 1, the food distribution at least was much more organized, watched over by American soldiers. The food just goes to women now, in an attempt to get aid to nuclear families instead of those who shove the hardest.
About a month after the earthquake, on a trip to Titanyen, the site where some 100,000 were buried in mass graves north of the city, I saw a small group of Haitians with sticks and stones. They were trying to mark off land in order to build there in the future. There was nothing else, just gravel. No services at all.
I went back right before leaving Haiti and I discovered, like fruit trees that grow on arid land, a hundred or so tents. It seemed like the birth of a village. I wondered if one day it might grow into a city.
The streets of Port-au-Prince are still chaotic, but in a different way. Before it was almost impossible to get around because of all the rubble in the roads. Now they are cleared, but they’re clogged with traffic, and with bulldozers trying to remove what remains of crumbled buildings.