Robenson Bernard cries at a hospital in downtown Port-au-Prince on Monday. Bedridden since November, none of the family members that used to take care of him have come since the quake.
Robenson Bernard cries at a hospital in downtown Port-au-Prince on Monday. Bedridden since November, none of the family members that used to take care of him have come since the quake. David Gilkey/NPR
Since the earthquake destroyed much of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, many Haitians are starting to flee inland. Violence has been reported in different parts of the city as aid is slow to reach victims. Thousands of people still need medical help, or simply water and food, after last week's earthquake.
There are other victims as well — people who were severely injured before the earthquake and relied on others to help them. Because of the earthquake, that help isn't coming like it used to.
Robenson Bernard was a bedridden patient at the main general hospital in downtown Port-au-Prince when the earthquake hit. The quake damaged much of the hospital. Bernard is still at the compound, but he's out in the courtyard, splayed naked on a dilapidated mattress under a tree.
He says before last week's earthquake, his family came each day to clean and feed him. "They used to come," Bernard says, "but they don't anymore."
Bernard, 34, is emaciated. His ribs protrude from his chest, and he barely has the strength to lift his head. He says he relies on strangers to give him food, and there's no one to clean his soiled bedsheets. Flies hover over him.
A Haitian woman who lost both of her arms is moved out of the sun at the main hospital in downtown Port-au-Prince Monday.
A Haitian woman who lost both of her arms is moved out of the sun at the main hospital in downtown Port-au-Prince Monday. David Gilkey/NPR
When the earthquake hit, I was sleeping," he says. "The earth moved as if I was holding the steering wheel of a car. And then the plaster and the dust from the ceiling was all over me."
Bernard used to be a plumber. He says he got in an argument with some men, and they stole his cell phone and shot him. His legs are paralyzed, his face is unshaven, and his fingernails are unclipped and packed with dirt.
Bernard doesn't know whether his family members survived the quake. He says he has faith that they're alive and are just too busy and have too many problems of their own right now to come check on him.
After the quake, he says, five journalists carried his bed out of the damaged hospital and left him under the tree.
Bernard says he is been growing weaker each day since the quake, but he's confident he will survive.
"The time for me to die has already past," he says, referring to when he was shot in November. "I pray so much, and I've accepted Jesus into my life."
Bernard says that is what's keeping him alive.