The Music Is Back

February 4, 2010

By Tyler Marshall

Thursday morning outside a mobile clinic supported by International Medical Corps in the western suburbs of Port au Prince, I heard something I hadn’t heard since I arrived in the Haitian capital near two weeks ago: music.

The sounds of up-tempo Haitian compas, salsa and even Sheen Easton wafted across a small park next to the clinic were one more sign of a city—a people—gradually returning to a normal routine just over three weeks following the Jan 12th earthquake claimed well over 100,000 lives and left nearly three quarters of a million people homeless. In some neighborhoods of the same western part of the city known as Carrefour, residents yesterday got their first electricity since the quake around 10: 30am.

Those owning or renting homes that were damaged but not destroyed in the quake are beginning to inch their way back inside, driven mainly by the discomfort of the alternative – living on the city’s streets. One resident, Carlo Chery, said he, his fiancé and her family gave up the streets three days ago and returned home, but not completely. They do go inside, he said, but they sleep on the form porch where they can get away quickly if needed.

Signs of normality are also apparent elsewhere. For example, the number of petty traders selling fruits, spices, sugar cane and little trinket, seems to grow by the day, as do those looking to buy.

Occasionally, residents say conditions are even better than before—at least in some ways. In the hard-scrabble Bolosse area where International Medical Corps also has a mobile clinic, clean-up crews have swept the normally garbage-strewn streets clean, giving the neighborhood a sense of order it hasn’t seen in years, according to those who know the area.