22 June 2010 by Sam
“The main thing to report from Haiti this week is the rain. We are now well and truly into the rainy season which means that for three or four hours every day, and occasionally the whole day, it absolutely buckets down, often accompanied by thunder and lightening. For Oxfam and for many of the other agencies operating here, this change in the weather represents the second phase of the emergency response. Even though the tents and the plastic sheeting provide some shelter, the ground is saturated and each time it rains there are floods or landslides to contend with. Port au Prince is built in a valley surrounded by hills and many of the roads become impassable during these storms, even in our four by fours.
Oxfam’s engineers and public health teams are currently working around the clock to ensure that adequate sanitation is maintained and to create drainage in the large camps where people are living. The mosquitoes are thriving but for the 1.2 million people left homeless here after the earthquake, life is pretty grim at the moment and is set to continue this way as hurricane season officially starts in June.
On a brighter note, I have continued to be able to make the most of my time off here. Last Sunday I went to the Oloffson hotel (pictured below) for lunch which is the hotel that Graham Green’s novel, The Comedians, is set. It’s an incredible decaying old colonial building full of character and wonderful art. Each room is named after a famous occupant including Mick Jagger, the Haitian Voudou art collector Virgil Young and Graham Green himself.
There are also many signs of people returning to some sort of normality here. Thursday was a public holiday to mark the feast of Corpus Christi and there was an enormous book fair held in a park where the Sugar Cane Museum is found. There were literally thousands of people there, most of whom had dressed up for the occasion and who mingled and drank juice and held hands in the heat of the midday sun. It was inspiring and quite humbling to see local people enjoying themselves and using culture as a way to come together after all they have been through.
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