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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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Filed under: Haiti


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samuel olaoye   January 29th, 2010 6:15 pm ET

Thank you Hala Gorani for the coverage and most especially by bringing to the fore the positive attitude of Haitians even in the mist of all the destruction.
the communal life with high level of organization you noticed at the tent settlement is typical of interior villages in Nigeria. keep up the good work.

Keira   January 29th, 2010 7:00 pm ET

For what it's worth, I think that's the key 'life goes on.' It may sound cold & detached but sometimes we have to maintain a sense of that in order to move forward and in this case, move forward to help Haiti rebuild - in every sense possible.

I hope everyone keeps Haiti on the forefront b/c they're going to need our help for a long, long time. Whether it's medicine, psychological needs, infrastructure, etc, we can't forget the Haitian people.

Just know that you (and everyone at CNN) has done a GREAT job in bringing us all of those pictures & news. Just know that somehow you've helped someone in need, whether directly or indirectly. I commend you for going there and keeping us informed. I wish there was more that we could do to bring a sense of normalcy to Haiti.

A. Smith, Oregon   January 29th, 2010 10:26 pm ET

Indeed after the entertainers have long gone, the body snatchers have collected as many cadaver ligaments, tendons and corneas as they possibly can to sell on the world-wide medical organ and body parts market, Haiti will continue for the next 10 years (decade) on rebuilding.

With the sudden change of no schools, and large numbers of amputee's, the social and community changes to Haiti will be largely changed in the years ahead.

I find it entirely refreshing and even encouraging to see mass numbers of Haitians singing ancient African and Afro-Caribbean songs of life and survival. It literally flys in the faces of the mass numbers of American soldiers walking the rubble strewn streets of Port au Prince with machine guns looking for trouble makers.

I hope that enterprising Americans donate their time to engineer simple floor designs for Concrete Geodesic domes which would be nearly indestructible against Hurricanes and moderate Earthquakes.

With continued eyes on Haiti, perhaps the Haitian people will finally receive some of the huge amounts of funds that have poured into Haiti this past decade and yet for all the world to see now, the Haiti people did not appear to receive a single dime of it.

A. Smith, Oregon   January 30th, 2010 7:46 pm ET

There are hundreds of thousands of Haitians living and sleeping on the ground. The need for tents and temporary shelters before the upcoming tropical rains begin hitting Haiti is enormous.

The medical supply's, heavy equipment and medicine arrived far to late for a large number of Haitian victims that suffered numerous crush injury's during the initial earthquake.

Oregon is building dome shelters and shipping them to Haiti as quickly as crews can build them. Why isn't the military supplying surplus tropical hammocks to the hundreds of thousands of homeless Haitians?

We know that these people are going to need shelter before MAY. The world didn't act quickly enough with medicine and medical supply's but what is the excuse for lack of tents and shelters?

The Haitian people do not need thousands of more US soldiers walking the streets with machine guns, they need Army Surplus Tropical Hammocks and temporary shelters.

33 cents from every dollar in US taxpayer aid to Haiti in 2010 went to the US Military in Haiti and only 6 cents per dollar for FOOD for the starving Haitian people!!!

Thot   February 6th, 2010 2:29 pm ET

Haiti earthquake and help efforts were the big headlines on all types of media's in the last weeks. The question of “what will happen to Haiti when the media's leave and start to focus on others subjects” has a lot to ponder about.
Will be, from now on, that lack of interest over Haiti, a responsibility only from international governments or the media's as well?
This international and media temporary focus on a country or a subject, makes me wonder what type of humanity we are becoming?
People have now become “world interest” only when they become part of international media and government attention, and mostly for the saddest reasons? Who knew, before the earthquake, anything about Haiti?
I know the Medias have many stories to cover, but it makes me sad to see how they make big headlines from a story for weeks and, soon, start to forget about it.
Haiti and Haitians are poor, and since their country doesn’t have, petrol, natural gas, gold, diamonds or any other type of natural richness, they don’t have that “extra” that keeps capturing the interest of richer countries. Basically we leave now in society that is like “If we invest but can’t gain any type of profit in return”, why bother?
Just look at New Orleans. And we are talking of a city situated in one of biggest, economical and political, countries in the world, and almost 5 years after, New Orleans is still recovering, I imagine how much time Haiti will take to recover, if they will manage to recover at all. How long can a population wait? And who is responsible for us to keep ignoring these type of situations?

Mohit   September 2nd, 2012 12:58 am ET

Thank you for spreading the word about Haiti. Yes, today I too found it imopssible to think about or blog about anything else.I visited Hait this past summer and my life will never be the same. Prior to this earthquake, life in Haiti was harsh, to say the least. Now, I cannot imagine the conditions and the suffering. In Haiti, I visited an orphanage called Danita's Children (www.danitaschildren.com) and saw a little bit of heaven in hell. Danita and Brenda, one of the other missionaries, have since visited me in my home. They are beautiful women, both inside and out. The orphanage in now planning to make room for more orphans. These people are not "foreigners," they are our neighbors and need our help. Again, thanks for letting people know how to reach out and help others.

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