What have they done?

I wandered through the Port-au-Prince cemetery today with a Haitian colleague looking for his family crypt. His heart was full of trepidation. What would he find?

Had someone tossed his ancestor’s bodies and stuffed fresh ones in there instead. That’s what has happened to so many crypts.

We stepped over bones and skulls spread through the maze of crypts. Flies swarmed. The stench of rotting human flesh.

And the souls of the dead. Restless. Disturbed. “Why can’t you let us rest in peace?” they seemed to say.

What else were people to do? Where to dispose of those freshly departed? After the earthquake, there were bodies everywhere. And nowhere to bury them properly.

I don’t know where to begin this story for CNN.

Haiti’s horror

My heart breaks.

Every time I head out of the Plaza Hotel in a CNN car, my heart breaks.

In the massive tent cities, in the villages, on the big island in the deep blue Caribbean. My heart breaks.

A woman grasped my arm today and would not let go. She held her sick child with her other arm. “I am hungry,” she said.

Everywhere you look, there is misery. People who had nothing have one hundred times nothing now.

After the earth heaved, the world turned to help Haiti but will it now begin to turn away?

“I am out of this stinking place tomorrow,” said one journalist staying at our hotel. He had just come out from a dip in the pool.

Yes, yes, you can go home. I can go home. We can all run away, back to our plush places with climate control, soft beds and enough on our plates to feed five Haitians.

But what of those who are already home? Amid the stench of rotting bodies, garbage-strewn streets and makeshift settlements where, if they are lucky, an aid group has delivered bulgar and lentils.

Imagine living side by side, without privacy. A woman on her period. Families bathing in public. Flies swarming, the heat rising. Ahead, lies the rainy season. And more misery.

Imagine never recovering what you have lost, memories and lives forever buried under mountains of crushed concrete and twisted metal.

I met a young man Tuesday on the Isle de la Gonave. Joinvil Anvousse. He was studying theology in Port-au-Prince. Today, he thinks his education is lost. He has no money. He does not know where his parents are. The house where he was living is gone. He moved back to the isolated island and eats every two or three days. One meal of plain rice. When someone shows mercy.

I pulled out a melting Pop-Tart from my backpack and gave to him. Within seconds, he devoured half. The other half he shared with his cousin. Then, he gave me his e-mail address.

“Tell the world my story because I want to go to school,” he said. “Promise me, you will.”

Yes, Joinvil, I promise.

For Haiti’s sake.

Read my stories about Haiti: http://www.cnn.com

A Haitian tragedy

I sat at work last night writing the main Haiti earthquake story for CNN Wires and my mind raced back to 2001, when I was in the Indian state of Gujarat, covering the massive quake that also struck on a January day.

Families, separated. Mothers searching for their babies. Husbands clawing throwing rubble in the hope of hearing their wife’s voice somewhere — under mountains of rubble. Dust-caked faces. Bloodied bodies. Unidentifiable flesh and bones.

In Haiti, the people are desperately dependent on foreign aid. Foreign medicine. Foreign doctors. The Caribbean country, the poorest n the Western hemisphere and one of the poorest in the entire world, has hardly the resources to save their own.

I thought, too, of walking nine blocks of rubble in the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar, disgusted by the work of a suicide bomber who had detonated massive amounts of TNT and destroyed the lives of thousands.

Nature’s fury and man-made horrors.

The end result is the same. Tragedy. Magnified in parts of the world without money, without the ability to help their own.

Life means no less in war-ravaged, strife-torn, impoverished nations. But we are somehow dulled to the plight of ordinary men and women who live in places like that. Think how you would feel if your child was missing after the earth convulsed for several minutes in your town. If you didn’t know whether a loved one had died. Or if you were holding the dead in your arms.

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