Americas

Living in the rubble: Portraits of Haiti’s earthquake survivors

CAVAILLON, Haiti — Makeshift tents occupy soccer fields. Cinder blocks from demolished homes surround mattresses and blankets cover grassy parks. In Haiti, earthquake survivors have nowhere to go, so they are finding ways to live outside.

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Haitians were already beleaguered by chronic poverty, rising violence and political instability, deepened in July by the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

Then, on Aug. 14, the 7.2-magnitude earthquake jolted the country’s southwestern peninsula, between the Caribbean Sea and the Canal de La Gonâve. More than 2,200 people lost their lives, and more than 340 people remain missing. Haitians are still counting their dead.

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People are seen Aug. 18 near a building in Les Cayes that collapsed because of the earthquake.

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

A pedestrian walks over a crack that cuts across National Highway 7 on Aug. 19 in Camp-Perrin.

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Children walk through a soccer field at an encampment in Cavaillon on Aug. 21 where people are taking shelter after the earthquake.

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Residents of L’Asile, Camp-Perrin, Maniche and Cavaillon suffered catastrophic loss. Homes were leveled. Highways and roads broke apart. Local officials had little hope that help would be on the way.

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

“We have not seen the government come to our aid, and I don’t expect them to,” Martinor Gerardin, the mayor of L’Asile told The Washington Post. “How will we ever rebuild our schools, our churches, fix our water supply? I can tell you, this government won’t help. We are on our own.”

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Humanitarian aid has poured into the Haiti, but the rollout has been rocky. The quake hit a rural part of the country, where the bumpy roads are strewn with obstacles to access. The Associated Press reported gangs have hijacked aid vehicles and stolen supplies; some aid groups have resorted to reaching hard-hit areas by helicopter.

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

But amid residents’ shock and grief are portraits of resilience and survival.

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Roselaine Fortune poses for a portrait outside of her destroyed home on Aug. 21 in Maniche.

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Madelaine Pierre Rose stands with her daughters outside of their damaged home Aug. 21 in Maniche.

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Dumwy Vilait, on left, and Brunel Vilait search through the debris of St. Rose de Lima Church in Maniche.

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Pierre Fortuis, who experienced the earthquake with his wife, Josianne Charles, says they are struggling to find food — a common challenge in one of the most food insecure countries in the world, according to the World Food Programme. Of the country’s 10.9 million people, 4.4 million are at risk of hunger, according to the organization.

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Resemonde Joseph broke her arm as she tried to escape through her front door. Tremors caused her to lose her balance.

Post-traumatic stress disorder keeps Pierre Saintilus McDonald tossing and turning at night. “I’m afraid of the aftershocks,” he says.

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Pierre Fortuis and his wife, Josianne Charles, sit in what's left of their home in Maniche.

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Resemonde Joseph of Maniche broke her arm during the recent earthquake.

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Pierre Saintilus McDonald and his son Donald Saintilus sit outside their temporary home Aug. 21 in Maniche.

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Elmonise Philoti, who survived the earthquake after a wall collapsed on her, poses for a portrait Aug. 18 in L’Aisle.

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Father Jean Pierre Constant Loubean poses for a portrait Aug. 19 in Camp-Perrin.

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Children displaced from their homes by the recent earthquake play dominoes at an encampment Aug. 20 in L’Aisle.

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Edline Lainé lost her home in the earthquake and is now living in a park in Cavaillon.

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

For the citizens of Haiti the task of rebuilding the tens of thousands of structures destroyed is a daunting one. The country is reliant on international aid to help with the aftermath of the quake, and as time goes on, some fear Haiti could again be forgotten. The homes, schools and churches so essential to these communities could be forever lost, like the lives of those buried underneath them.

Joshua Lott/The Washington Post

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Credits

Editing by Reem Akkad. Photo editing by Chloe Coleman.