I'm back from Haiti. It was pretty difficult to post from there with no electricity and one laptop for over 12 people.
Before I get into the meat of the service projects, I just want to post my impressions of being back in Port-au-Prince for the first time in nearly three and a half years.
The traffic in Port-au-Prince is just as congested as it was in the last quarter of 2010. There were signs of sustainability in solar panels on the tops of the street lampposts.
But the most obvious change was the absence of rubble and numerous buildings in full or partial ruins. Some of my colleagues in Hands of Light in Action who had been in the capital city during my absence noted the change in an October visit.
The other noticeable change was the lack of tent cities teeming with earthquake survivors rendered homeless by the seismic catastrophe. The one near the airport was gone. On a trip to Pétion-Ville, I didn't see any evidence of the camp in the Place St. Pierre across from the St. Pierre Church. Apparently the settlement had been cleared in 2011, an occasion marked by some as a milestone in earthquake recovery.
An article in the HuffPost posted last April noted that the number of persons in tent camps had declined by 79 percent. In the months immediately following the quake, the number of people clustering in these deplorable conditions soared to 1.5 million. While the International Organization of Migration issued a report that indicated that yearlong rent subsidies had helped some households to move out of the settlements into more secure housing. The report said that six percent of the departures from the camps were due to evictions. It didn't give a reason for the evictions.
In other cases, violence was used to empty out the camps. I spent my first night in Haiti with a family who resides in Pétion-Ville. On waking, I ventured outside to see the familiar blue tarps marking flimsy shelters on a steep hillside. The displaced, like the poor, are with us still.