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Calm space for babies and parents

During my visit to Tabarre Issa camp my translator for the morning was Alix, a Haitian who worked at JFK airport in New York.

Alix had returned home shortly before the quake. He is determined to stay and do what he can. After the initial couple of months living under tarpaulins, he compared the structured Tabarre site to an ordered city.

Baby tent

One of the tents in the camp is visited daily by infants under one and their parents. Here, our trained staff provide milk, advise parents, track the babies’ development and lead singing and playing times - a beautiful sight to see following the earlier chaos of the city. Parents can also leave their babies there for a while to get a break or to work.

Jean Soi’s story

In the baby tent I met 28-year-old Jean Soi and his ten-month-old son Roberson. Roberson’s mother died holding her baby in the earthquake and his father was trapped under the rubble for three traumatic days.

Getting stronger

The two of them now spend most of their day in the calm of the baby tent and Roberson’s health is improving daily. Clearly still affected by his experience, Jean Soi told me that he wasn’t sure how he would have coped without this facility, and of his joy at seeing his son getting stronger every day. 

Overcrowded

Though life has undoubtedly improved for families living at Tabarre, the challenge is to provide services and dignity to those in other camps. Land tenure is a massive concern, with the majority of it privately owned. The city was already overcrowded and with much of it still now covered in rubble. 

I’m going to visit Place de la Paix, where approximately 15,000 people settled after losing their homes. Most people there are living under tarpaulin. Concern is providing a whole range of services, but in very tight, cramped conditions. If Tabarre is the “after”, la Paix is very much “before”.