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Consumed by concerns

Haiti earthquake survivors seek information about food, water and families

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

There were five of them, then 10, then more than 20 -- all men, all gathered around a small radio that was perched on a rickety chair in a public park in Petionville. Named for Alexandre Pétion, the 18th- and 19th-century Haitian general and president -- this suburb of Port-au-Prince is home to some of the country's wealthiest people. Now, though, with its overflowing trash piles and families huddled under tents amid the smell of feces and urine, it holds a fair share of desperate earthquake survivors.

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It wasn't clear what, if anything, was coming through over the airwaves. But the slightest possibility of new information was too tempting to pass up. Along with the dire questions of where to find food and water, the men said, they faced another challenge: how to pass the time.

Ephesien Catule, 26, a college student studying accounting, said the conversation with other men in the tent city doesn't stray far from their concerns. There are concerns about "my future, the future of my country, the future of the children," he said, pointing to a short boy who joined the crowd. "That's all I think and talk about."

Many in the group nodded, including Jocelin Joseph, 25, a computer programmer who lost his house in the earthquake. "Every day we sit and talk about what happened, nothing else," Joseph said. "What else is there?"

-- Theola Labbé-DeBose


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