At the entrance to the expansive Acra Sur Camp, Brillant and I were met by a welcoming committee of five or six young men. After Brillant explained that I’m a journalist covering Haiti a year after the earthquake and that we would like to visit, one of them went off to a tent to get authorization. He came back and led us up the hill to meet Isidor Franc Ky, a member of Terrain ACRA Camps des Sinistres, or TACS. Isidor, along with his comrade Jocelyn Walson, took us to the TACS office, a one room pre-fab structure sparsely furnished with a plastic chair, which Isidor offered to me.
In the course of a brief interview, Isidor told a familiar tale. He reported that since the earthquake, basically the only help that has been provided to the camp of six hundred families was the provision of a stainless steel water tank by the French Red Cross almost a year ago. And it is far insufficient to supply the camp. He stated that the Haitian government at every level, from national to the mayor of Delmas, had failed to provide any assistance. And, he added, at a meeting that very morning between members of the camp and the mayor, the mayor’s security detail had beaten a number of the camp residents and the mayor himself had shot one.
Our next stop was a meeting with Jean Louis Elie Joseph, the Porte Parole, or effective mayor, of the camp. An older man, probably in his early to mid-forties, we found him surrounded by camp residents. After being introduced, he agreed to speak to me about the conditions in the camp. Reiterating what Isidor had told me, he added that the residents of the camp didn’t feel that there was any reason to commemorate the anniversary of the earthquake because the government, and international aid organizations, have done nothing for them and have actually been making money off their suffering. And he had a plan to remedy the situation.
He said the money from international aid organizations should be put directly into banks so that the residents of the camp can get credit. With credit, they would be able to start businesses and buy homes, with mortgages to be paid back over fifteen or twenty years, just like in the developed world. As he was concluding his presentation, Geammy Yonel arrived.
Mr. Yonel had been struck in the face and leg with a baton by the Delmas’ mayor’s security staff that morning, Mr. Joseph stated. Looking somewhat unsteady, Mr. Yonel had a swollen right cheek. He didn’t make a statement before being assisted off.
Concluding the interview with Mr. Joseph, Brillant and I set out to exit the camp, but were detained by two incidents. In the first, a woman named Rosemante asked me to take a photo of her sister, who has been very ill for a year. We followed Rosemante to her sister’s tent and she is indeed very emaciated. Rosemante, lamenting her sister’s condition, said that she used to be quite large. I took a few pictures and Brillant got Rosemante’s cell phone number with the intention of trying to do something to help.
The second incident occurred as we were almost to the camp’s exit. A group of four or five young men hailed us, wanting to know what I was up to. Brillant explained, and it turns out that one of the young men has been working with children, now located in the camp, for a long time. He asked if I had time to visit, but I told him we needed to get to the Champs de Mars for the earthquake commemoration, but that I would try to come back. Brillant got his phone number and, with that, we were on our way.
Using the phone number Brillant got from her sister Rosemante, International Medical Corps (www.internationalmedicalcorps.org) located the sick woman . An International Medical Corps team transported her to the Hopital l’Universite d’Etat d’Haiti (General Hospital), where Dr. Megan Coffee examined her and determined that she is suffering from tuberculosis (TB) (See Megan Coffee, M.D.). The woman is now receiving treatment at the hospital and her condition is improving.
To see more pictures, go to www.vichinterlang.com.