Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Two weeks after the quake

I can't believe it's been two weeks since the earthquake first hit and Andre's family is still camped out on the street in Port-au-Prince. We've been able to send money twice and luckily they got it easily because his brother the police officer went to Western Union with his stepfather. Another Haitian friend in Florida said it took her relatives two days to pick up the money she sent because the lines were so long.

Andre's stepfather walked up to an uncle's village in the mountains a few days ago to inquire about land to build on. He found one lot that he liked for $11,000, but we're hoping he can find something cheaper. The other alternative is to build on his grandfather's land in Duval village, but because it's even farther off the Petionville-Kenscoff road and there's no electricity, it's not ideal either. I'm afraid that after living in the capitol for so many years, they won't be happy living in such a remote area. So we asked Andre's stepfather to look for cheaper land in his brother's village.

After four days without any contact, we're now able to get through to an uncle's cell phone because he gets better service for some reason. It's wonderful to be able to talk to Andre's mother, grandma, and other relatives. They're hanging in and surviving, although sometimes they sound more desperate. His grandmother, especially, says she is ready to go back to the village.

We asked about the relief efforts. They told us there is an American base about a half mile from them, but there were so many people that they had to fight just to get a bottle of water and cookies. Even though the stores have been destroyed, little by little there are more street vendors with food for sale. So Andre's family prefers to buy what they need, even though the prices have doubled and tripled. The money we've sent them has been used up quickly because of inflated prices and because they've been sharing with his aunts, uncles and cousins. I don't know if other relatives are planning to go back to the mountain villages or stay in Port-au-Prince. I'm glad that Andre's family wants to leave the capitol. I don't think it's going to be a nice place to live for many years to come. Not that it was that great even before the earthquake. I've always preferred the mountain villages.

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