Journalist's personal diary from quake scene

Journalist's personal diary from quake scene

January 20th, 2010 by Allison Kwesell in Blogsfirstperson

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Billows of smoke rise above demolished bricks in the heart of this city. Bodies are being burned in the open. We're walking along, snapping pictures; I feel dehydrated, in awe of the mass destruction and sad beyond belief. Suddenly the sound of shots echoes in the distance and makes the hair on my arm rise. Our translator yells, "Go, now!" and we move quickly down one windy street to another to escape the crowds.

***

In the United Nation tent I see blank stares, people drifting off into painful sleeps. I hear moaning in the background as night creeps in. Doctors feverishly work together like pieces of a puzzle. They make rounds, one after another. Every time a child cries, it is only minutes before someone comes to his attention.

***

If patients' wounds are considered life threatening, UN workers will treat them and will even amputate limbs if necessary.

If doctors there are unable to treat the injured, the patients are taken - in hitch-hiked rides - to an Israeli camp, known to have the best operating and the best medical machinery. Some patients are flown to the States.

***

Downtown Port-au-Prince is tragic. The buildings are completely ruined and families are searching for bodies, scavenging for food. Maggots are eating away at dead people that have not yet been burned.

***

To me, the definition of Haitian must mean survivor. This is so loud and clear as I walk through Port-au-Prince. My gut aches with sadness at seeing the mass destruction, yet Haitians are moving about the city. Women are dressed in skirts and walk about with their purses. If you took away the rubble and smoke, and just looked at the people it feels like it did in when I was here in May. Life must go on. The open market is busy, and children are chasing each other through the streets. Occasionally you even hear bursts of laughter. These people are devastated beyond belief, but they understand, like nothing I have ever seen, that life must go on.