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1,400 people living in the yard of a large house in Port-au-Prince

Today we visited a camp in Port-au-Prince where about 1,400 people have gathered in what is essentially the yard of a large house. The house owner lives up the road and has allowed these families to live on his property. Families are sleeping in tents or in makeshift shelters.

A small committee has been formed by a group of young men (and one woman) to organize the affairs of the camp. They told us that compared to many others, they feel they are not in bad shape. They would of course prefer not to be there, and the stress of the situation is hard to handle. But their top concern is the start of the rainy season, which is very soon – end of January or beginning of February. When the rains come, what little they have for shelter will be sorely inadequate.  This is a situation that faces the hundreds of thousands of displaced people who lack proper shelter.

During our visit, we watched as a set of water points became operational, clear and clean water flowing out of the taps. Together with the people in the camp, our water and sanitation team had prepared the water points and a set of bathing cubicles the day before, and was hard at work constructing latrines on another parts of the property. The families in this camp had also received the hygiene kits and kitchen kits from Canadian International Development Agency that Save the Children distributed last week. One of the committee members told us that the kits were “very, very, very useful.” He also told us that the water we had distributed at the same time had been vital. Their needs are great, but the people in this informal camp welcomed us graciously and with good humour into the temporary home that they are trying their best to make livable.

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