International and Haitian responders from the Red Cross network worked over the weekend to set up tents at a new camp outside Port-au-Prince, which will be home to as many as 27,000 of the most endangered quake-affected Haitians.
Corail Cesselesse is a new site more than 10 miles from the Haitian capital, managed by the International Organization for Migration. Recently, thousands of highly vulnerable people from the Terrain Golf improvised settlement began to resettle here. Tents are going up quickly.
As volunteers hammered stakes for guy ropes into the hard, barren plain at the foot of the Morne Cabrit mountain, the president of Haiti, René Préval, arrived for a visit, accompanied by actor Sean Penn.
Penn’s charity, the Jenkins-Penn Haiti Relief Organization, manages Terrain Golf and has launched a “Beat the Rain” campaign to help relocate more than 50,000 quake-affected people at risk from floods and landslides in the current rainy season.
Vulnerable people in the Terrain Golf site who agree to move are being bussed to Corail Cesselesse at the rate of a few hundred a day.
“We’re so glad to be asked to help here today,” said Colin Chaperon from the American Red Cross, who supervised the Red Cross volunteers at Corail Cesselesse. Chaperon is managing the global Red Cross relief cell at the Port-au-Prince base camp.
“Even above our own commitments, we can make Red Cross volunteers available if any humanitarian agency working in Haiti needs elbow grease in the field,” added Chaperon, who also spoke briefly to President Préval about the Red Cross quake operation.
“We’re all in this together.”
Roselène Dugé, 29, her husband and four children are taking stock after their first night in Corail Cesselesse.
Their tent is already a model of domestic order, including a small potted plant they hope will one day grow into a tree that will provide shade on the scorched plain.
Dugé used to make a living selling cooked snacks while her husband ran a motorcycle taxi – an occupation he can, fortunately, still pursue in Corail Cesselesse. Of one thing she seems sure: it’s an improvement on Terrain Golf. “In the last camp, when it rained, we had to sit up all night long.”
The Dugé family are no longer in imminent danger, but their long-term future is no clearer than it was.
“Only God knows how long we’ll be here,” says Roselène.