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At a glance: Haiti

Two best friends survive the Haiti earthquake and talk about life in camps for the displaced

© UNICEF/2010/Nybo
Miratson Guerrier and Ricardo Rocourt in the Sainte Therese temporary camp for displaced earthquake survivors in the Pétionville neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

By Thomas Nybo

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, 28 April 2010 – Miratson Guerrier and Ricardo Rocourt have been best friends for as long as they can remember. But when the 12 January earthquake here destroyed each of their homes, they also became neighbours.

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Along with thousands of others, Miratson, 13, and Ricardo, 12, found themselves living in the same temporary settlement – the Sainte Therese camp in the Pétionville suburb of Port-au-Prince.

‘How I survived’

Miratson perched atop the rubble of what was once his family home, telling a visitor about the moments just before the earthquake.

"I was coming from school and my family was cooking food," he explained. "When the quake hit, my brother went under a wall, and the wall fell and crushed his head and he died. I jumped down on the other side of the house. This is how I survived."

With that, Miratson pointed to the spot where his brother died. Scattered amidst the rubble were the clothes and broken toys of his siblings.

Miratson’s best friend, Ricardo, has a similar story to tell. "The day of the earthquake, I was outside my house and my mother was on the front porch, so we weren't injured," he said. "But my seven-year-old brother was getting lessons at school and he was killed."

© UNICEF video
Miratson, 13, talks about the difficulties in the camp where he lives.

Makeshift settlements

Back at the temporary settlement, Miratson shares a small makeshift tent with five other family members. There's only one small bed, which is propped precariously atop bare earth.

"I feel miserable sometimes because where we are in the camp,” said Miratson. “When it rains during the night, we have to climb up on something to stay dry [because] the ground turns to mud."

Like Miratson, Ricardo shares a tent with five family members. Sleep is difficult, and when the rains come, he walks to his uncle's restaurant to sleep on the floor.

In addition, food and supplies have become scarce at the camp. Ricardo is getting used to eating just once a day.

"Sometimes there's no food,” he said. His mother still has a job, "but they had to cut her paycheck in half," he added.

© UNICEF video
Ricardo, 12, has lived in Sainte Therese camp since his family's home was destroyed in the earthquake.

Hopes for the future

The pair of friends has high hopes for the future despite their challenging surroundings. Ricardo talks about becoming president one day, and Miratson would like to be a doctor.

But in the camp, day-to-day concerns continue to outweigh talk of future plans.

"All I want is a house where I can go to sleep, food to eat, water to drink, a place to go to school and a yard to play in,” said Miratson. “This is what would make me happy again."




UNICEF correspondent Thomas Nybo reports on life in the camps in post-earthquake Haiti from the perspective of two young boys.
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