In Haiti, Single Moms Struggle With Camp Life Hurricane Tomas skirted Haiti's capital last week, but the storm drenched the earthquake-ravaged country, highlighting its still-fragile state. Almost 10 months after the quake, more than a million people are living in makeshift camps. Even at one of the "better" camps, life is incredibly difficult.
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In Haiti, Single Moms Struggle With Camp Life

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In Haiti, Single Moms Struggle With Camp Life

In Haiti, Single Moms Struggle With Camp Life

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This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

And we have an update, now, on Hurricane Tomas. Over the weekend, it moved out over the Atlantic, though the brunt of the storm skirted the capital of Haiti. It drenched the country and highlighted, again, that country's fragile state. Almost ten months after a devastating earthquake, more than a million Haitians still live in makeshift camps. NPR's Jason Beaubien takes us to what's considered one of the better camps, but he still finds life there incredibly difficult.

JASON BEAUBIEN: Two sheets of cloth and a tarp are all that separate Ridlan Duvalier and her four-month-old baby from the elements. This is the camp of Corail.�Its set on a barren, gravel plain to the north of Port-au-Prince. 6,500 people live here in long lines of white tents.�

Duvalier, like most of the other residents of Corail, was moved here in April from an incredibly overcrowded camp on a golf course. Shes left this camp twice since then, she says, once to give birth in a hospital she doesnt even know the name of; and then again last week, when she was evacuated ahead of the approaching Hurricane Tomas. Now shes back.

Ms. RIDLAN DUVALIER: (Foreign language spoken)

BEAUBIEN: At times I wake up and all I do is sing or cry, she says. When I cry, the baby cries and it makes me cry more. But each day theres really nothing for me to do here.

(Soundbite of baby crying)

Duvalier is alone in the tent with her baby. Her boyfriend died in the earthquake.�Her parents refused to take her in because she was pregnant, and she ended up with a friend at the�golf course camp.�They moved together to this camp. But just before she gave birth her friend asked her to leave. So the camp managers gave Duvalier her own place.

The tent is barren.�A few clothes are tossed in the corner. There are two buckets of water and a washbasin. Duvalier and her baby sleep on some blankets that shes laid on top of a piece of plywood.

Ms. DUVALIER: (Foreign language spoken)

BEAUBIEN: I only breast feed my son, she says. At times when I dont eat and I give him the milk, his belly swells up.

Theres no food given out at the camp.�With a newborn, Duvalier says theres no way she can go into Port-au-Prince to seek work. So she relies on the kindness of her neighbors to eat.

(Soundbite of singing in foreign language)

Near Duvalier, a green army tent serves as a church.�Women in their finest Sunday dresses stand in the dirt swaying to the hymns. The preacher, Charles Jean duMond, says conditions in Corail are difficult for everyone, but theyre particularly hard for single mothers.

Mr. CHARLES JEAN DUMOND (Pastor): (Foreign language spoken)

BEAUBIEN: This is very common, the pastor says, about Duvaliers situation.�He says many single mothers end up having several boyfriends. He says the boyfriends help the�mothers survive financially.

A few tents up from Duvalier, Yvonne Antoine lives with three of her four children. Her youngest daughter, Louise Mie, whos five, lost her left leg in the quake. But Antoine says her daughters leg was the least of what her family lost. Her husband went insane, she says, because for days he believed his children were dead. Now his mother takes care of him out in the provinces. Antoine lost her house, her job. Several of her nephews were killed. She also lost the ability to feed her children.

Ms. YVONNE ANTOINE: (Foreign language spoken)

BEAUBIEN: When youre hungry at least you can stay home and sleep, she says.�Whats hard is when you think about these problems and you see all the barriers in front of you, she says, and theres no solution. Antoine says she sporadically gets money from her oldest son who works in Port-au-Prince and thats how they survive.

When she gets discouraged she thinks back to the earthquake and to the fact that God saved her yet took so many others, she says. This gives her strength to keep going.

(Soundbite of music)

And across the camp, thousands of other residents keep going.�One of her neighbors plays his guitar in front of his tent. Others have planted small gardens in the gravely dirt.�Some people apparently settling in for the long haul have even planted fruit trees.

Jason Beaubien, NPR News, Port-au-Prince.

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