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Haiti Earthquake: Shaken to the Core


Photo by Jacqueline M. Koch Photo by Jacqueline M. Koch Photo by Jacqueline M. Koch Photo by Jacqueline M. Koch Photo by Jacqueline M. Koch Photo by Jacqueline M. Koch Photo by Jacqueline M. Koch Photo by Jacqueline M. Koch Photo by Jacqueline M. Koch Photo by Jacqueline M. Koch

In January 2010, a devastating earthquake leveled Haiti's its capital, infrastructure and health system. 1.2 million people were without homes and displaced into temporary settlement camps, many without adequate shelter, clean water, sanitation or access to emergency medical aid or health care. The UN called the situation "catastrophic."

After two months of a high-intensity relief effort, the medical crisis was far from over. The hard-hit urban areas saw an exodus of homeless survivors to find support with relatives in rural and remote villages. Already existing on thin margins, these villages are short of food and basic health care.

Already a slow-burning crisis due to a legacy of neglect, Haiti's recovery will require long-term commitment.

Lala Joseph, 49, weeps as she feeds her 21-day old grandson, who has no parents and has not yet been named. The Jan. 12 earthquake claimed this newborn's father's life. The infant's mother abandoned her child to the care of his grandmother. Joseph is without a home or work, living with the infant in a cloth tent. "It's just me and the baby," she says.
Claudine Souffrant 15, suffered a severe injury to her right arm when it was struck by a falling concrete block. Much of the bone and tissue in her wrist was torn away. After a number of complex surgical procedures, doctors were able to save her arm and hope she'll regain function in her hand.
Geralda Alexandre, 15, was trapped under a concrete block in her home for three days before she emerged with a severe injury to her left leg, which began to infect. She received specialized orthopedic and plastic surgery to save her leg and allow her to walk normally again.
The earthquake put a tragic twist in the life of young and vibrant Loveley Bogard. At 17 years old, she joins Haiti's 4,000-6,000 new amputees. An injury to her left leg became dangerously infected and her limb had to be amputated to save her life.
It will be a long night for Roselaine Guirand, who has left a nursing infant in the care of a neighbor to spend a night in the pediatric ward with her eldest daughter, who is severely malnourish and ill. Guirand is like many women in Haiti, grappling with a defunct health system as they try to raise their families. Now, in the wake of a complete health system collapse, Guirand is also without a family breadwinner; she lost her husband in the earthquake.
Haiti's population is very young: 40 percent is under 14 years of age. This statistic was readily reflected in the patients who arrived at mobile clinics in rural and remote villages outside of Petit Goave, where health care is limited. This boy is among some 200 people from the his village seeking health care from a mobile clinic.
Seeing a doctor is a special occasion in Haiti. When a mobile clinic arrived in Arnoux with two doctors many villagers dressed up, wearing festive hats, skirts and colorful beads.
Jalo Dumont, 7, (center in blue hat) has a fever and came to the Arnoux Dispensary, to seek free medical care from a mobile clinic. Arnoux, a rural and remote village of 10,000 people is three hours from Port-au-Prince and have been without health services since Oct. 2009.
Haiti's elderly population has taken a hit over recent years, as Haiti has spiraled to the near bottom of the Human Development Index. Life expectancy is an average 60.9 years and there are few social services. The elderly are vulnerable in the tough scramble for resources in post-disaster Haiti.
Throughout Haiti 1.2 million people have been forced from their homes. This woman's home is still standing but unsafe due to structural damage. Most displaced Haitians are living in camps, with relatives or on the street in front of their previous residence.