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12 Jan, 4:53 pm — the moment Haiti paused

This week the whole of Haiti mourned. Silence filled the streets at exactly 4:53 pm. The moment of the earthquake that decimated homes, streets and lives — one year ago.

Sat in a house in a busy area of Port-au-Prince, it feels as though the whole country is pausing. Cars stopped, radio stations broadcast emptiness, people stood in silence. And then burst into song. Loud, colourful and joyful, I could hear it echoing all around the streets.

Haiti one year on is a country emerging from trauma. Everywhere you look you can see rubble and tents and desperate poverty.

But you can also see recovery. Lines of bright, colourful washing strung between tents. Small curbside businesses trading fresh fruit and vegetables. Every morning freshly scrubbed children in matching school uniforms emerge from cramped and dirty tents to go to school. One boy, Matheiu, who lost his sister in the earthquake, tells me that he wants to go to school — “for tomorrow”.

I’ve extended my visit here, so I can take some personal time to see something of Haiti beyond the devastation. This news is greeted with delight by many of the Haitians I work with. “Take lots of pictures” one said. “Show the people in London that Haiti is not just this. Show them how beautiful it is. And will be again”.

Find out more about our work in Haiti

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