'Good Samaritan' Reaches Out to Fellow Haitians

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - When the SOS call along Haiti's Avenue Pouplard went unanswered, earthquake survivors began to pull together.

"We started to organize within 72 hours of the earthquake," native Lamite Garde said. "We divided the street into blocks and those living within these blocks were responsible for looking after each other. Each block had a leader."

Garde is a block leader. His job is to make sure that no one on his block goes hungry or thirsty.

"Whatever food and water we can find, we share it with each other," he explained. "Too many people have already died and we can't afford to lose more people."

Nearly half of the buildings along the road have been destroyed, yet there is a resilient spirit among many of the earthquake survivors.

That resilience is alive and on display at 55 Avenue Pouplard, home to 78-year-old Ivan Betrand.

"I was born in this house on the 6th of October, 1932," he said. "My father was also born in this house in 1890. We come from a fairly well-to-do background."

Little is left of the home, but he has opened his yard for countless others to gather and sleep.

"I don't even have clothes. All my belongings are buried in the rubble," Betrand added. "I live in the backyard in a small room that used to be my outside kitchen. This is all that I have."

That and a big heart keep survivors like Betsy Danjai hopeful about the future.

"We call him the Good Samaritan," said resident Betsy Danjai. "He always encourages us and tells us not to give up."

Danjai lives just a few steps from Betrand's front gate. She's alone. Every inch of his front yard is filled with earthquake survivors.

"People come and go," Betrand said. "On any given day there are between 350 and 400 people living here."

Betrand has family in the U.S.. They've asked him to join them but he refuses.

"I can't take the chance and abandon these people," he said. "Who will look after them? Everyone is in the same situation, rich or poor."

Nearly 1 million Haitians are homeless. Many of them are living in the 600 or more makeshift camps that have sprung up in the capital city and surrounding areas.

The Haitian government has plans to move the majority of them to resettlement camps on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, but that's just a plan.

"Nobody knows about tomorrow. We live from day to day," Betrand said. "The earthquake has showed us that it is people and not material possessions that matter the most in life."

So until help comes, residents along Avenue Pouplard have only each other to count on.

*Originally published February 3, 2010.

Special Section:

Haiti Earthquake & Recovery

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CBN News
George Thomas

George Thomas

CBN News Sr. Reporter

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