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Life Slowly Returns to Haiti

January 27, 2010

Originally in Provoices, of

Twelve days after the massive earthquake that devastated much of Port-au-Prince, the city continues mourning its many dead. Today, a ceremony was held as a symbolic burial of Haiti’s archbishop, who was killed by the collapse of Port-au-Prince’s cathedral. About 1,000 people are reported to have attended, including Haitian President Rene’ Preval.

Somewhere between 120 and 140 airplanes packed with international aid have begun to land daily in Port-au-Prince airport; the port, badly damaged by the earthquake, is also being slowly repaired. As a result, increasing amounts of critical supplies-food, water, tents-are being distributed through the city.

In the upscale part of Port-au-Prince’s suburb of Petionville, the Big Star Market, fully stocked and air-conditioned, opened its doors again to costumers. Everything from essentials like detergent and toothpaste to meats and cheeses were available. There were even some heart-shaped, Valentine’s Day chocolate boxes on display on the shelves.

Banks also opened on Saturday, albeit for only a few hours. Long lines of people formed at the entrance, waiting to access their accounts again. Even longer queues were spotted outside local branches of Western Union. These are key as given widespread poverty and remittances from relatives overseas are a key part of the Haitian economy. Given that the economy is in shambles, people need a cash infusion to be able to purchase goods.

Even as some Haitian queue at banks, desperate to kick-start their lives, hundreds of thousands of homeless remain. They’re in makeshift camps across the city, sleeping on the side of the streets. According to government figures nearly 600,000 are homeless in Port-au-Prince alone. Many more have homes that are still standing but prefer to sleep outdoors for fears of being caught indoors by another aftershock.

In Port-au-Prince, people who lost everything in the January 12th earthquake, need cash to purchase the much needed goods.

A man in line for a Western Union transfer, shows his receipt

Crowds gathered all across Port-au-Prince, as banks and money-transfer shops opened

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