HaitivillagesWorld News

The villages cut off from help by Haiti earthquake

By James Clayton and Stephane Vincent

BBC News, Les Cayes, Haiti

image captionThe drive up to Marceline is marked by huge fissures in the road

The prettily named village of Marceline is 30 minutes’ drive north of Les Cayes.

Before the earthquake hit it had two churches – Catholic and Baptist – a medical centre, a school and a voodoo community centre.

A tarmac road runs through the village, and off that tight paths cross banana trees, meandering by cinder block houses.

The town we arrive in is unrecognisable.

The drive up to Marceline is marked by landslides, and huge fissures in the road. The driver at times slows the car to a stop so he can negotiate the cracks.

The town of Les Cayes was badly affected by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake on 14 August. Perhaps one in six buildings collapsed.

Here it’s hard to find a house that is standing.

Kelly Phildor was a 15-year-old boy who was preparing for a new school term.

He was cheeky and full of life. His nickname was Kelly Forever, and he had scrawled that moniker on to his shirt.

“I didn’t realise his life would be so short,” his mother, Marie Rose, says.

image captionMarie Rose says she has her son’s shirt wrapped around her waist “to give me strength”

Kelly had woken up early, and had left his home on Saturday morning. But his phone needed charging so he decided to return.

When the quake hit, a wall made of chunks of heavy cement and rock fell on top of him. It broke both of his legs and his skull. He didn’t stand a chance.

“I don’t know what to do. I have his shirt wrapped around my waist to give me strength,” Marie Rose says.

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The level of destruction here is hard to comprehend. Both churches were obliterated.

In the voodoo community centre, people were getting ready for a dance in the chapel. They were waiting for the priestess to start proceedings when the quake struck.

The building caved in on itself.

A neighbour tells us that they managed pull out the body of the priestess, but there could be more than 25 people still under the rubble.

What everyone asks is why there is no help – no medicine, no search and rescue teams, no food and water – nothing.

media captionFive days after an earthquake killed more than 2,000 people, many in Haiti are still waiting for help.

Margaret Maurice and her eight children managed to survive their house collapsing with only minor injuries.

However, they are now left to fend for themselves, squatting on the rubble of their former homes.

“Do I have to scream to get the government’s attention,” she says, “or are we being left to die?”

She says she has little food and water, and the few aid trucks she’s seen have passed them by.

The government, aid agencies and the international community have all promised help.

But those promises mean little to people here.

The medical centre – a place where people could perhaps have sorted supplies – was also flattened.

image captionThe voodoo community centre was obliterated by the powerful quake

Here in the mountains it can get cold and wet at night. Some people have flimsy tarpaulins, and some don’t even have that.

Occasionally there are short jolts, aftershocks, that add to the stress.

People here aren’t thinking about their long-term future – they’re focused on surviving.

But with all the village’s infrastructure utterly destroyed it’s hard to see how Marcilene will recover.

Haiti is currently in political turmoil. The former president was assassinated last month. The country simply isn’t able to give villages like Marcilene the assistance they need.

Everyone here has multiple friends and family members lost to this earthquake, which killed more than 2,000 Haitians.

But now, there are worries that more could die – not from the earthquake – but because basic supplies that were needed, never came.

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