Monday, February 1, 2010

Life in Terraine D'Acra

Today we were in Terraine D'Acra, a settlement that is holding up to 8,000 displaced people, and met with some of the leaders of the community. The area is very widespread with different neighborhoods and communities seeking space in whatever area they can find.

There are many groupings of people and although they lived in the same neighborhoods previously, they have never before been forced to live so close to one another and in such harsh conditions. We were hearing from the people that they needed water, latrines, shelter, and food. They are also worried about the land that they were squatting on and whether they will be kicked off or forced to move elsewhere. Luckily, we talked with the landowner and he was willing to grant them temporary space although a long-term plan is yet to be figured out.

The search and rescue teams, as of today, have been sent out of the country. Although the neighborhoods have all been cleared, the population is clearly traumatized and asking for help. There are some families still looking for bodies. Many are choosing to live in settlements, where it is safer and further from the gangs that roam the streets at night.

Others, however, are worried about their land and are sleeping in their front yards or anywhere they can find space on their property. Those that were renting and those that owned their land are all in the same situation--nowhere to go and no means to start over.

There are many places throughout the city that have been completely demolished. Families are living on the roads, in parking lots, or on open ground throughout the city. Women and girls are showering in the broad daylight with no privacy and the city streets are filthy and littered with trash, making the environment almost unbearable.

That being said, children are flying small kites, playing with makeshift yo-yos, and making small plastic cars out of things they have found. The people here are clearly surviving.

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