Desperation and Hope in Haiti

News Feature Web Exclusive
January 2010

Text and photo by Ted Regencia

CHICAGO — On an ordinary day, the mustachioed Jim Roberts, 46, tends to his Evanston consulting office, which doubles as a grocery stand selling everything from Doritos chips to phone cards. Thursday afternoon is anything but. It has been 48 hours since a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. Robert’s faint smile and the cache of silver-and-gold jewelries clinging to his hands could not obscure the anxiety in his eyes. Earlier, he learned that two relatives and seven family friends have perished. As the clock ticks, phone lines to Port-au-Prince remain dead, adding to the strain in his sagging shoulders. “If I could be able to at least find a way of communicating to one family member, that would at least ease the worry that I have now,” he says.

According to news reports from the Caribbean island, 200,000 people are feared dead as a result of the calamity. So far, more than 50,000 bodies have been recovered, the country’s Interior Minister Paul Antoine Bien-Aime was quoted as saying. The city of three million people is also facing the nightmare of dealing with homeless survivors who are growing desperate by the day.
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