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Haiti's 'Forgotten City' Lost in the Rubble

Haiti's 'Forgotten City' Lost in the Rubble
Haiti's 'Forgotten City' Lost in the Rubble

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Bart Childs

The historic earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12, changed it's capital city Port-au-Prince forever.  And while the American military has secured it's damaged port and streets, international aid organizations supply medical and food supplies and cargo planes fly in around the clock, one place really hasn't changed, either before or after the earthquake and that is the forgotten city, Cite Soleil.

"Cite Soleil is the last place to get anything, if anything. There are places that are impassable because of collapses, but normally people just ignore Cite Soleil," says Pastor Mark Dreibelbis, who has run a clinic and orphanage here since 2006. 

And, while the number of patients he treats has increased, he's not over run like other hospitals in Port-au-Prince.

"By and large in Cite Soleil there weren't a whole lot of fatalities. One because there are a lot of tin shacks and they flexed and two, the buildings aren't real tall," he says.

But there is one change that nobody welcomed: an increase in crime.  When the earthquake hit it collapsed the main prison downtown and some 3,000 prisoners escaped, many of them former gang members, who looted the armory of guns and rifles before they scattered, some home to Cite Soleil.

"I saw one yesterday.  Generally they stay underground and come out at night," says Dreibelbis.

And when they come out they prey on the poorest of the poor. 

Josette Pierre has a small business selling sodas and pots. She has eight children and is a vicitim. She says, "when we ran out during the quake we left everything.  By the time we got back everything was gone, all my money and all my possesions.  Now we are living in the streets."

It's the forgotten city.  And while there is a U.S. hospital ship in the harbour and mobile clinics being deployed,  in Cite Soleil the Mission Ranch Medical Clinic was here before and will be here after.

"Cite Soleil is a slum of about 200,000 people and it's almost impossible to care for them," says Dreibelbis.

The unchanged injuries from an unchanged...  and forgotten city, Cite Soleil.
 

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