Haiti: Aid worker speaks six months on

SIX months after the Haiti earthquake which killed more than 230,000 people, an aid worker from Comet country who helped in the clean-up operation has spoken of his experiences.

Barrie Sampson, Captain of the Letchworth Salvation Army, flew to Haiti four months after the earthquake hit on January 12, and stayed for seven weeks as part of the relief effort.

He says that more than 400 settlements have sprung up all over the capital of Port Au Prince, with one of the largest next to The Salvation Army’s headquarters.

“The camp was a complete mess, more than 3,000 families living in small makeshift shelters,” he said.

“There was no water or sanitation. The area was covered in all forms of debris, including human waste.

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“Food was in short supply, so people were desperate, and all over the capital the situation was tense.”

Mr Sampson said one of the biggest problems faced by aid workers was getting supplies and materials into Jacmel, because the mountain road which led from the capital to Jacmel had been badly damaged in the quake.

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Boats were largely used as a means of transport instead.

“The Salvation Army has now finished the first phase of its shelter construction programme in Jacmel and the surrounding areas, and has to date built 567 shelters in the region of Jacmel, Bainet, Lillet, Bellamy, and Cayes Jacmel,” said Mr Sampson.

He says another 567 shelter kits are partially complete, and phase two will see construction of a further 1,500 to 2,000 shelters in Petit Goave, and 600 more in Jacmel, beginning in early September.

These shelters will mainly be used to re-home those people who have been living in camps since the quake.

“It is not enough for Haiti to be put back the way it was before the earthquake, there has to be more,” said Mr Sampson.

“If there isn’t, then we, together with all of the other agencies involved, have failed them.

“This truly is ‘a disaster like no other’.”

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