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Monday, February 1, 2010

Refuge Camp and Damage in Jacmel

We just visited the largest refugee camp in Jacmel. We estimated that there were 4,000 to 5,000 people there. The soliders, who maintain order at the camp, seemed tired and haggered. There were a variety of sights and smells. People were building make-shift tents out of banana trees and sheets of fabric. We even saw one tent made out of fragments of an American flag. People used machetes to make tent pegs and to dig trenches around their tents to collect water when it rains. There was also a medical clinic to assist the sick and injured. A little girl poured water out of a jug to clean the mud off of her flip flops.

Many of the "tents" are not waterproof, so shelter from the rain is rather limited. Both temporary and permanent housing is an huge need. Women cook rice and bean over fires made from any scraps of wood or charcoal that can be found. We saw many amputees hobbling around the camp.

The children being children made toys from discarded bicycle tire rims and a stick. A few other children made kites from scraps of plastic wrap or bags and a few sticks. The kite string was dental foss. In the midst of the disaster, the children can still play.

We also drove through Jacmel and saw the devastation of the city. The buildings left standing are unsafe and could collapse at any time. In some of the photos, you can see what appears to be almost intact buildings until you realize that the intact portion is the second or third story laying on top of the first--a "building pancake." The streets we drove down this afternoon turn into a "tent city" at night.

I have never seen anything quite like this... Devastation... Kyrie Eleison.


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