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Haiti: Six months on, life in the camps

12 Jul 2010

Six months on from the devastating earthquake, life for older people in Haiti's temporary camps is still tough.

HelpAge International in Haiti has been speaking to groups of older people in camps located in Carrefour, Cite Soleil, Delmas,  and Petion-Ville. 

We want to collect more information about their living conditions and their views on what it would take to get back on their feet again. 

Not surprisingly, their main desire is to leave the camps. They spoke of their discomfort, the conditions, attitudes towards them from younger residents and in some cases, the fact that they are excluded from distributions of humanitarian assistance.

Older people want to rebuild their lives and country

These are just a few examples of things older people shared with us:

"I am waiting for an opportunity to leave the camp. I will accept anything just so I can leave this tent." "We would have left here long time ago. We are still here because our names are not on the list for humanitarian assistance, most people have already left."

They want to receive cash grants so they can return to what they were doing before the earthquake. They want to earn an income and provide for their family. They want to be selected for "cash for work" programmes just like everyone else. Most of all, they want to be active participants in the reconstruction of their country. 

Left with nothing

"I used to send stuff to my sister, but after the earthquake, I have nothing. From time to time, she calls me to ask me to send her something, but I have nothing. I have to stay here and wait!"

"My house was heavily damaged. It's marked for demolition, but where can I go after it's demolished? I can't do anything!"

Older people are still traumatised by the catastrophic event of 12 January. They are frustrated because they are completely dependent on the assistance of their relatives when they want to be active contributors to society.

HelpAge's plans are to make sure these needs are met, but the wider humanitarian response must also make sure older people are not left out. 

Read more about HelpAge's work in Haiti.

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Author profile

Bertin Meance
Country: Haiti
Job title: Program Support Manager

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.