January 29, 2010
Posted: 1728 GMT
Only a few hours after arriving in Haiti last week, we were sent to the scene of a reported survivor.
There was no time to think, or take stock, only the urgency of getting to where the story was unfolding.
There, in an obliterated section of Port-au-Prince, a man was extracted alive from the rubble after almost twelve days. Like hope rekindled, Wismond Jean-Pierre, presumed dead, was pulled out from the rubble and into daylight.
Still the smell of death was everywhere. Close to where Jean-Pierre reconnected with life, there was a corpse baking in the sun.
Being in Haiti and reporting on the Haitian people's reaction to tragedy of unimaginable proportions has touched me in ways I didn't expect.
I have seen wars, tragedy, grief and loss but never on this scale. And what has struck me most is the spirit of the Haitian people.
It's always difficult to think of things to say after talking to someone whose entire life has been ruined by tragedy. Instinctively, I often say: "bonne chance" – "good luck" – before leaving.
More often than not, they would answer: "good luck to you."
There have been instances of violence and a few scuffles here and there. But overall, considering the desperation of the people here, things have so far remained calm.
Little tent villages in closed off enclaves have sprung up. Residents have numbered tents and encourage each other to keep the grounds clean of rubbish.
Living one day at a time, trying to soldier on with as much dignity as possible.
It isn't a long term solution, but it will have to do for now.
But for Haiti, the biggest challenge is what comes next, when the news crews have left and when there are no more star-studded fundraisers for the earthquake victims.
The country needs shelter and food, but it needs to be rebuilt politically, as well.
There is good will and billions of dollars pledged to help this ravaged nation, but without a fundemental change in the way things are managed – or mismanaged – here, it could all be for nothing.
And just as I've witnessed in countries on the other side of the world in the Middle East, what the people here need are jobs.
I'm going back home tomorrow, wanting to spend more time in this devastated country. But I will be back.
As I prepare to head out, activity is slowly coming back to the streets of Port-au-Prince, with food stalls and traffic in busy intersections.
Even in Haiti, and against the odds, life must go on.
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