Haitian Woman: 'All I Have Now' Is A Dress, Grain Bag

Haitians Carry Remaining Belongs Through Street i i

hide captionHaitians carry the few belongings they have salvaged from their destroyed homes through Port-au-Prince.

David Gilkey/NPR
Haitians Carry Remaining Belongs Through Street

Haitians carry the few belongings they have salvaged from their destroyed homes through Port-au-Prince.

David Gilkey/NPR

In Haiti, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. Many of them are living in public parks, empty lots and any other open space they can find.

Malia Yvette is one of many who have lost nearly everything.

The middle-aged woman lives in the lone structure still standing in the neighborhood of Morne Lazare. The neighborhood used to cling to a steep hillside in Port-au-Prince — now it's a swath of rubble. Some of it has even tumbled into the roadway below.

  • Firefighters yell for help as they try to put out a fire at the Pasta Mamma noodle factory in Port-au-Prince on Monday.
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    Firefighters yell for help as they try to put out a fire at the Pasta Mamma noodle factory in Port-au-Prince on Monday.
    All photos by David Gilkey/NPR
  • People scramble to pick up spilled spaghetti at the burning restaurant. With food supplies already low, the fire is yet another blow to a desperate capital.
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    People scramble to pick up spilled spaghetti at the burning restaurant. With food supplies already low, the fire is yet another blow to a desperate capital.
  • A man grips a knife as he looks for other looters to come out of a shop near downtown Port-au-Prince on Sunday.
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    A man grips a knife as he looks for other looters to come out of a shop near downtown Port-au-Prince on Sunday.
  • A man carries a shotgun as he walks through a collapsed burning building while trying to keep looters at bay on the streets outside in the commercial district of downtown Port-au-Prince.
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    A man carries a shotgun as he walks through a collapsed burning building while trying to keep looters at bay on the streets outside in the commercial district of downtown Port-au-Prince.
  • A body, with tied limbs and apparent gunshot wounds to the head, lies in the street Monday.
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    A body, with tied limbs and apparent gunshot wounds to the head, lies in the street Monday.
  • Robenson Bernard cries at a hospital in downtown Port-au-Prince on Monday. Bedridden since November, none of the family members who used to take care of him have come since the quake.
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    Robenson Bernard cries at a hospital in downtown Port-au-Prince on Monday. Bedridden since November, none of the family members who used to take care of him have come since the quake.
  • A Haitian girl, whose nose and cheek were shattered in the quake, holds her head at the main hospital in downtown in Port-au-Prince.
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    A Haitian girl, whose nose and cheek were shattered in the quake, holds her head at the main hospital in downtown in Port-au-Prince.
  • A U.S. Navy helicopter flies over Port-au-Prince on Monday.
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    A U.S. Navy helicopter flies over Port-au-Prince on Monday.
  • Soldiers with the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division prepare to board helicopters to create operating bases across Port-au-Prince on Monday.
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    Soldiers with the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division prepare to board helicopters to create operating bases across Port-au-Prince on Monday.
  • United Nations soldiers hand out water in front of the National Palace on Sunday.
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    United Nations soldiers hand out water in front of the National Palace on Sunday.
  • Across Port-au-Prince, people attend Sunday services in the rubble of churches.
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    Across Port-au-Prince, people attend Sunday services in the rubble of churches.
  • A man walks past Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Church in downtown Port-au-Prince.
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    A man walks past Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Church in downtown Port-au-Prince.
  • A Haitian woman receives her first ration of foreign aid in a soccer stadium in Port-au-Prince on Saturday.
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    A Haitian woman receives her first ration of foreign aid in a soccer stadium in Port-au-Prince on Saturday.
  • Haitians line up for U.N. food rations. Desperately needed aid is finally arriving in Port-au-Prince, but congestion at the airport is hampering efforts to get supplies to survivors.
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    Haitians line up for U.N. food rations. Desperately needed aid is finally arriving in Port-au-Prince, but congestion at the airport is hampering efforts to get supplies to survivors.
  • Women stand in line for food rations being handed out by the United Nations Friday in Port-au-Prince.
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    Women stand in line for food rations being handed out by the United Nations Friday in Port-au-Prince.
  • A Haitian man tries to keep a crowd from rushing a U.S. Navy helicopter as it unloads water in a Port-au-Prince park.
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    A Haitian man tries to keep a crowd from rushing a U.S. Navy helicopter as it unloads water in a Port-au-Prince park.
  • As survivors await international aid Sunday, Haitian men pass out water and soda taken from a collapsed store near Port-au-Prince.
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    As survivors await international aid Sunday, Haitian men pass out water and soda taken from a collapsed store near Port-au-Prince.
  • A boy uses a jug of water to wash off in a city park near the national palace.
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    A boy uses a jug of water to wash off in a city park near the national palace.
  • Across Port-au-Prince Haitians are scrambling to salvage what they can. A woman carries a bag of clothing recovered from her apartment.
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    Across Port-au-Prince Haitians are scrambling to salvage what they can. A woman carries a bag of clothing recovered from her apartment.
  • Refugees wait in a makeshift camp Saturday near downtown Port-au-Prince.
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    Refugees wait in a makeshift camp Saturday near downtown Port-au-Prince.
  • People gather around broken water pipes to collect fresh drinking water Friday in Port-au-Prince.
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    People gather around broken water pipes to collect fresh drinking water Friday in Port-au-Prince.
  • The streets are filled with people carrying their few remaining belongings.
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    The streets are filled with people carrying their few remaining belongings.
  • The search for people in the rubble continues. A Haitian rescue worker helps the L.A. County Search and Rescue team in in downtown Port-au-Prince.
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    The search for people in the rubble continues. A Haitian rescue worker helps the L.A. County Search and Rescue team in in downtown Port-au-Prince.
  • Haitians watch the L.A. rescue team's efforts at a collapsed building. Officials estimate at least 50,000 people were killed by the quake.
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    Haitians watch the L.A. rescue team's efforts at a collapsed building. Officials estimate at least 50,000 people were killed by the quake.
  • A boy tries to get a drink as looters scavenge the rubble of a supermarket Saturday in Port-au-Prince.
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    A boy tries to get a drink as looters scavenge the rubble of a supermarket Saturday in Port-au-Prince.
  • First Lt. Greg Bitner watches over Haitian men who have gathered at the airport in hopes of getting work.
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    First Lt. Greg Bitner watches over Haitian men who have gathered at the airport in hopes of getting work.
  • Haitians leave Port-au-Prince on a flatbed truck. Other towns in Haiti were also hit hard, but not much aid has made it beyond the devastated capital.
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    Haitians leave Port-au-Prince on a flatbed truck. Other towns in Haiti were also hit hard, but not much aid has made it beyond the devastated capital.
  • A man stands on a rooftop yelling out for any sign of his missing relatives Friday in a devastated hillside neighborhood near downtown Port-au-Prince.
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    A man stands on a rooftop yelling out for any sign of his missing relatives Friday in a devastated hillside neighborhood near downtown Port-au-Prince.

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Yvette's house is toward the top of the hill. Laundry still flies from a clothesline on its roof. The structure leans precariously out over an expense of pancaked houses, shattered concrete blocks and twisted rebar.

Yvette slumps dejectedly under a tree. She points to the pile of debris in front of her. She says three of her family members are dead inside. If you look over there, another three bodies are trapped, she says. Over there, two more, she says. One of her sons is trying to smash through the concrete to get the cadavers out.

Yvette used to sell vegetables from a small shop for a living. She tugs at the tattered green dress she's wearing and says, "This is all I have now. This and this grain bag." The grain bag is empty.

She says she sleeps in a park along with several of her neighbors.

Morne Lazare is not a rich area, but in Haiti, where more than half the population lives in poverty, it was a solid neighborhood. Most of the residents had jobs, and the houses were solidly, if simply, built. Yvette says she'd like to rebuild her home, but she has no way to do it. She doesn't have anything: Just this dress and a grain bag.

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