Children at a Caritas orphanage outside of Port-au-Prince await their food supplies by Caritas member CRS. Photo: Conor O'Loughlin/CARITAS
By Conor O’Loughlin, Communications Officer for Trocaire, in Port-au.Prince
East of Port-au-Prince, things are calmer than in the city. The massive overcrowding of the capital is much less on show here and even the destruction seems lesser. But then, there are fewer houses here.
It is a peaceful place; smallholdings with banana plants and chickens stand on the roadside. But the aftermath of January 12 lingers here, too. Most houses have sustained damage of some variety; every third or fourth has been completely demolished.
A small orphanage sits among the scrub at end of a stony lane, found only by following the lead of a rusty, hand-painted sign directing us to the ‘orphelinat‘.
When the earthquake struck, their headmistress tells us, all of the children were in an upstairs room of their house watching a documentary “about how children live in France”. Then the building started to shake.
“The bigger children grabbed the smaller children and ran down the stairs”, she told us.
Seconds later, the whole building collapsed. Looking at it now, buckled and angry looking in the midday sun, it is a miracle nobody was hurt. The two floors of the school building, across a small yard now littered with debris and shards of their former life, is also completely fell. Inside the rubble there can be seen a smashed blackboard, the last day’s lesson still lingering, the broken desks strewn drunkenly amid the rubble.
Caritas has worked with this orphanage for some time, providing the nuns with the food necessary to feed 55 children. But since the earthquake, more children have come. In fact, the number of children at the orphelinat is now 96.
“Many children have come,” we are told by their carer. “People from all around have brought us children that they have found. We don’t know where they have come from or where their parents are.” Continue reading