Haiti 2010: A Tale of Two Camps
The Haitian Earthquake left over a million people without shelter, most of whom are still living in displaced persons camps across the Port-au-Prince region. These camps sprung up organically, with people moving to any open ground, and constructing rudimentary shelters for themselves and their children with anything that they could come across: sheets salvaged from destroyed downtown businesses, donated blue tarps, Indian print fabrics, and in some cases sheets of cardboard. The camps are a riot of colors: blue, oranges, pinks, and browns, and, while, main thoroughfares and markets have developed over the months, the layout still feels chaotic, with people living virtually on top of each other in a warren of dense structures. As the rains begin, the oranges and blues that are the predominant sights become enveloped in a thick mud that cracks and dries in the afternoon sun, only to thicken again in the nights showers. Life in these camps is loud, full of slapped down dominoes, shrieking jumprope competitions, and a raucous community that keeps people moving forward day after day.
Corail-Cesselesse could not be more different. Constructed by the US Army, as anew site to move residents of the more dangerous parts of the Petionville Golf Club Camp before they could be swept away in seemingly inevitable muslides, Corail-Cesselesse was planned out with military precision. Hundreds of evenly spaced white tents lie staked out in trucked in white gravel. During the day it is blindingly hot, with no trees and no color to soak up the sun. Residents seek shelter in tents, and murmers of voices can be heard through the haze, but mostly, while the sun is high, there is silence. At night, Corail-Cesselesse is a dream- all soft colors, soft voices, and quiet children meeting up in corners or flying kites. As it darkens, football games are played, missionaries move tent to tent, and people sit outside making quiet conversation with their neighbors. If the other camps are the earth, Corail-Cesselesse is both the sun and the moon.