Haiti still wobbles, but many work to help it 'rise and stand'

People are still homeless, children still without schools

Published: Tuesday, June 1 2010 12:00 a.m. MDT

Vendors catering to homeless people have popped up on the streets. Some hawk long, narrow tree trunks that can be cut into tent poles. Mattresses, too, are now bunched between the usual commodities.

Some camps have medical clinics in large tents with exam rooms where, five days a week, doctors like Katia Deteriere treat people for high blood pressure, respiratory and urinary infections and pain. She sees about a dozen patients a day, but she said the number swells to 60 or 70 on Fridays.

In the countryside filled with towering palms and plentiful mango trees southwest of Port-au-Prince, where relief supplies never arrived, people still drink water from contaminated streams, said Pierre Louis Roderigue, pastor of a Christian school 30 miles southwest of the capital city. He worries typhoid will follow.

And with the rainy season now at hand, the prospect of more sickness and destruction looms.

"Hurricanes are going to be on this poor country," said William Burke, a teacher at the school. "This is very, very, very bad."

Just in the past week, he said, some houses in the area collapsed in a downpour.

Concrete and cinder block are the building materials of choice in Haiti, mostly because they are available, but also because they withstand hurricanes. Earthquakes were not something Haitians thought much about before Jan. 12.

Those children in their brightly colored uniforms practiced hurricane drills, where they were taught to hunker down inside. Some Haitians actually ran inside to their deaths when the ground started shaking, because that's what they were taught to do in a tropical storm.

"The past generation didn't leave anything for us," Pappilon said, noting the last major earthquake in Haiti occurred in 1842. "I think the next generation will know how to behave."

e-mail: romboy@desnews.com

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