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In the axis of armpits

We arrived in Leogane yesterday, a town of around 200,000 which inspires little mention on Wikipedia, aside from the terrible fact that it marked the epicentre of the calamitous earthquake on January 12th this year.

That day the population was reduced by 3,500 the bodies of the victims becoming encased under mountains of rubble.

As we drive along main street, few buildings remain standing. We witness 80-90% damage. Almost all concrete structures destroyed. Leogane is a strange broken concrete ghost town. Not that it is deserted. Far from it. Rather, it is a ghost town in the sense that the deceased exist amongst the living, next to one another; next-door and next-tent neighbours along every street in town.

People are on the streets, trying to do what they can to make ends meet. What else can one do?

After the two hour drive from Port-au-Prince which took us along the coastal road that seemed to trace the fault line of the tectonic plates, we were glad to find a room in a large, impressive, though unfinished house amongst banana and sugarcane fields on the edge of town. As with everywhere else, there are tents in the garden. Over the last couple of months they have been occupied by other Save the Children emergency team workers, but now presumably someone has judged it safe enough to sleep in concrete buildings again.

Of course the aid-worker’s life is a bizarre cocooned existence in the axis-of-armpits-of-the-forsaken world. There are so many contradictions when you compare our lives to those whose rights we try to support. But with this ridiculous heat and the onslaught of blood-sucking mosquitoes eating at my ankles – am I allowed to say it? – I am glad I don’t have to sleep in a tent tonight!

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