Champ de Mars camp by Mac McKinney
One of over 1300 refugee camps throughout Haiti.
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July 12th was the six month anniversary of the catastrophic earthquake that turned the country of Haiti upside down, and there has been a plethora of articles, videosand programs on the ongoing, dramatic situation there all week, from everyone from The NY Times to The Miami Herald, to name a few.
Some of the best coverage has come from Al Jazeera and Democracy Now. In fact, if you have the time, take a gander at their in-depth pieces at the end of this article.
Ironically, having faithfully listened to Amy Goodman's Democracy Now shows this week, Amy ended up visiting several of the same places Georgianne Nienaber and I investigated and photographed back in mid-May, such as Champ de Mars and Camp Corail, even interviewing the same women's group fighting against rape in the refugee camps, the Commission of Women Victims for Women Victims, also known as KOFAVIV.
At the Plaza Hotel by Mac McKinney/ Three members of The Commission of Women Victims for Women's Victims being interviewed by Georgianne regarding spiraling rape in the camps.
What they said was painful, though not surprising, given the grim circumstances of so many camps in Haiti, where desperation, starvation , poverty, frustration, and lack of security are everyday realities. Listen to the Democracy Now video at the bottom entitled "Rape in the Camps" to hear a vivid account of the magnitude of these problems that allow rape to fester.
On her Wednesday, July 14th show, Amy Goodman also visited Champ de Mars, only a few hundred embarrassing steps from Haiti's collapsed national palace, also known as the White House. Here is one entranceway to the sprawling, chaotic camp.
In front of Champ de Mars by Mac McKinney
Despite it all, these Haitians still stay pretty upbeat.
More residents of Champ de Mars by Mac McKinney
A couple of these kids are enjoying some lollipops I conjured up.
To hear Amy's report, it would seem that things have gotten worse at Champ de Mars, not better, which is hard to even imagine. The rape problem there has apparently grown, or is at least more reported on. Food, sanitation, water shortages are still dire, and now we are into the 2010 hurricane season. One direct hit on this camp from a major hurricane, or any camp really, is too disturbing to even contemplate, an event that could devastate hundreds of thousands of Haitians if massive enough. And yet I have heard that hurricane preparedness by the government, UN forces and the NGOs ranges from poor to pathetic. Correct me if I am wrong.
On our third day in Haiti (after I had done an early morning photo shoot of the capital), Georgianne and I, guided by our "Fixer" Andre, headed west from Port-au-Prince in the direction of the epicenter of the January 12 earthquake near the town of Le'ogÃ ne, approximately 16 miles west of Port-au-Prince. Andre wound our Dodge Raider through the back streets and hills of the latter to avoid some terrible traffic jams, and finally landed us on Highway Two, heading due west along the coast and within sight of the Caribbean Sea. Our first goal was to visit more camps, and this is what unfolded this day:
On the road now by Mac McKinney
This is Georgianne's camera arm sticking out the window.
Wooden poles for making tents, etc. for sale. by Mac McKinney
Some type of refinery en route by Mac McKinney
Refugee camp on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince by Mac McKinney
One of many camps you will see right off the highways of Haiti.
Earthquake ruins, palm trees and the Bay of Port-au-Prince by Mac McKinney