The people of Sou Piste do the same things here, in their new makeshift community, as they did in the places they lived before. As evening falls, girls fetch water, women cook beans and plantains and rice on outdoor fires, and boys use the last moments of light to fly their kites. Many of the 40,000 people living here moved to this old airport runway the night of the earthquake, after their homes were destroyed.
The statue of Neg Mawon sits in the center of Port-au-Prince. It is a symbol of the Haitian people's independence—a sculpture of a black man, his ankles and wrists shackled, though the chains are broken. He is a slave, fighting for his freedom; in his left hand, he holds a conch shell to his lips, blowing to call others to join the revolt.
The General Hospital in Port-au-Prince is guarded by American soldiers with dark sunglasses and frighteningly large guns. Most of the buildings are damaged, so the patients lie outside in large white tents—makeshift wards.
One month ago today, Dr. Louise Ivers was in a meeting at the World Food Programme (WFP) office in Port-au-Prince when the ground began to shake. As first it was just a slight rumble, so that she thought that what she was feeling was perhaps the vibration of heavy construction equipment. But then the ground began to shake so violently that it was hard to stand up. "I fell over," says Ivers. "People started screaming, and we could hear the cracking sounds as the buildings shook and fell."
Signs of the earthquake in Haiti are everywhere in neighboring Dominican Republic. Hospitals are overflowing with the injured, aid workers fill the hotels, and signs asking people to send a text message and donate to the Haiti relief effort plaster the main thoroughfare through Santo Domingo.
The center of Port-au-Prince—its palace, ministries, schools and office buildings—lies in ruins. On January 12, the earth shook for less than a minute, but in those 35 seconds, buildings cracked and toppled, floors of concrete collapsing one atop the other, crushing hundreds of thousands of people as they fell.
Some of the most impoverished parts of the Dominican Republic are batayes - shantytowns that once housed sugar industry workers. For years, Haitian labor fueled the Dominican's large sugar industry. When the sector collapsed, many of these people had nowhere else to go – some had been in the country for decades and no longer had homes in Haiti; others were born in the Dominican Republic. Unemployment in the bateyes today is sky high; the HIV rate is also far higher than the national average.
Mondays and Fridays are market days in Dajabon, the small frontier town in the northwest of the Dominican Republic on the border with Haiti.
HIV is one of the big problems facing Haitians living in the Dominican Republic. To start to get a better sense of this epidemic in the country overall we stopped by a gathering of groups that work with marginalized Dominicans, whose members were meeting with UNAIDS and government officials to talk about HIV and human rights.
This is the first post of Living on the Margins: Haitians in the Dominican Republic. There are two of us reporting – I'm Stephanie Hanes, a print reporter; looking over my shoulder at the screen is Steve Sapienza, a video journalist. We've collaborated before with the Pulitzer Center.
Haiti's infrastructural devastation in the wake of last week's earthquake highlights media's critical role in facilitating relief efforts. Mark Frohardt knows this all too well. Frohardt is Vice President for Health and Humanitarian Media at Internews, an international media and development organization mandated to empower local media. He and his team arrive in disaster areas at the height of crises to fill gaps in information sharing and provide local media outlets with the necessary tools to rebuild.
Water has been identified as a top priority for aid to Haiti as it struggles to recover. The consequences of not having access to water extend beyond dehydration. Thirst drives people to water sources they would not have considered before - sources contaminated with human waste, garbage, and industrial byproducts. Using this water leads to diseases like cholera and dysentery, which spread rapidly through communities.