Saturday, February 20, 2010
Not Soon To Forget
I spent the morning in a 77,000-man tent city that was occupying what used to be a country club golf course. The irony of the once manicured lawns now housing Haiti's most desperate was not lost on me.
To describe what a tent city is like is next to impossible, at least for me and my limited literary skills. The heat was unbearable as we struggled up hill after hill making our way down tiny alleys between the makeshift dwellings constructed of plastic tarps, dirty sheets, and sticks. Children played in the filth and dust as parents sold packs of gum or candy in front of their "tents". Inside, behind the plastic, were the family's entire possessions; a mud-covered mattress, a handful of dented pots, and some soiled blankets.
The smell of rotting garbage, urine, and human and animal feces all combined in the baking Haitian sun to form an oder like nothing I've ever experienced in my lifetime. Flies picked at my face and body until I couldn't take it anymore, and I certainly didn't want to think about were the flies had just come from. The children smiled but the adults mumbled the same pleas for help over and over, reaching out to you with dirty, emaciated fingers trying to touch your arm to get your attention. This is a degree of misery that I've never seen before, and have vowed to not soon forget. No words that I can craft are capable of describing the human suffering witnessed today.