One Year After Haiti's Quake: Cholera Babies, School Without Walls

PHOTO: One Year After Haitis Quake: Cholera Babies, School Without Walls: Rubble Still Clogs Haitis Capital a Year After the Jan. 12, 2010 Earthquake
Share
Copy

In the normally black and white landscape one year after Haiti's catastrophic earthquake, the school pops out. It's name, the Institute Classic de Lalue, is festooned in blues and reds on a banner across the entrance. The latticed school rooms are painted in Caribbean purple and yellow.

The once three-story K-12 school represents both Haiti's promise and it's plight.

"We haven't received a penny from the government," Principal Gellene Charles erupted. "Nothing."

Instead, the schoolchildren's parents chipped in what they could. The school's superintendent Armand Telinor, a man with an urgent manner and an ill-fitting suit, mortgaged his home to scrounge up the rest of the money need for the bank loan.

It was enough to rebuild only part of the school, just a concrete foundation, supporting beams and a roof. The walls in the six classrooms are lattice wood and blankets. There are no windows and on the day ABC News visited the electricity was being installed -- in one room.

The computer lab remains a jumble of rotten screens with cables coiled on top of them.

"We have only started," said Charles. The principal, who wears her hair smoothed back and clips a pen in her blouse, hopes one day air conditioning will be installed so that the computers may be dusted off and turned on.

Like the school, Port au Prince, is busy building. Projects create dust on every street corner. But many, like the school, are privately funded and done piecemeal, often using the same rusted rebar that failed Haitians the first time.

It is estimated about 700 million cubic feet of rubble have yet to be cleared, enough to fill six Superdomes.

Only 10 percent of the rubble has been removed. It is Haiti's biggest challenge, the country's Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerieve told ABC News today.

Bellerieve blamed the international community for its reluctance to fund rubble removal. "It's not sexy. It's very expensive and doesn't hold up like a school or a hospital," he said.

Haiti's Grim Quake Anniversary

The prime minister said the bulk of the rubble cleared, enough to open most of this shattered city's streets, was paid for by the government, although most of the removal ABC News has witnessed in four trips over the past year resulted from private initiatives -- most often Haitians using shovels, picks and buckets.

And there are so many other challenges. Bellerieve told ABC News the government has revised upward its previous estimate of the death toll from 230,000 to 316,000, meaning about 3 percent of Haiti's entire population perished.

The country has yet to elect a new president, and it's voters continue to wait for the results of the disputed Nov. 29 elections. The runoff for the three putative front runners -- the wife of a former president, with scant political experience, a former hip hop star, and a government anointed successor with a checkered past -- has been postponed to March, all under the threat of violence.

Haiti has suffered a year of almost biblical disasters, an earthquake followed by the destructive Hurricane Tomas which rekindled the almost dormant cholera outbreak here that claimed over 3,600 lives.

The only full service maternity hospital in Haiti is run by the emergency relief group Doctors Without Borders. Out back, in a clump of tents the doctors have cordoned off a ward specifically for pregnant women with cholera.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...