‘Misery adds to misery’

A year ago, I wrote a blog that began like this: “My heart breaks.”

I had just arrived in Haiti after the earthquake and the scale of suffering was shocking.

A year later, my heart is still breaking.

In Port-au-Prince, so many lives are unchanged. Survival was difficult in this nation before the quake. Now it is that much more so.

I met a man named Carlos Jean Charles, who spoke English well and took me around the tent city at Place Toussaint, across from the National Palace. He had a life once as a software engineer, as a husband, as a father. But after a year of homelessness and despair, the will to live was fading.

I wrote about him in an anniversary piece for CNN. Here is an excerpt:

Charles shakes his head, in disbelief that he lives in this reality.

Misery, he says, adds to misery. “It makes people fight,” he says, showing a scar on his face. “Someone tried to kill me for my phone.”

The government, he says, doesn’t care about people like him. “I know Haitian politics. They like it when we are living like this.”

More than a million Haitians displaced from their homes by the earthquake are still eking out lives in tent cities once thought to be strictly temporary.

Charles puts a few drops of chlorine bleach into the water supply at his shack. Now there is another worry: cholera.

He fears that the day when he can leave this place is still far in the future. He hopes that when it comes, he will be able to remember how to live like a human being.

Until then, he walks — from Place Toussaint, uphill to distant neighborhoods like Petionville. He is a man without destination. He walks to forget.

You can read the full story and watch a video here:

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