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Haiti

Ronel Metelus, 43

Haitian internally displaced by the earthquake of 12 January 2010, now living in Camp Mina, Port-au-Prince.

I came to Port-au-Prince to learn how to become a dressmaker. When the earthquake started I was sewing in my house. I didn’t know what was happening so I grabbed two of my children, one under each arm, and ran outside. When I got outside I saw people screaming, people rolling on the ground and many wounded and bleeding. This is something I will never forget.

We lived in the street for 20 days and then moved back into the house but we couldn’t stay there because the house was getting more and more unsafe with each aftershock so we came here, to this camp. After the earthquake, people were scared to go back to their houses to retrieve things.

We laid bricks on the ground, put cardboard on them and then some sheets to lie down on at nighttime. We had to sell our clothes to buy food for the children. Everything looked so desperate at the time but thank God we were still alive so we just had to do everything we could to survive.

I feel as if I’m not alive here. If I could leave I would leave tomorrow. It’s humiliating to live the way we live here. We’re living with all sorts of people including robbers and gangsters. Our children are witnessing all sorts of bad behaviour and violence here which is bad for them. I really have to try my best to get out of this camp. I can’t bring up my children in this camp. The longest anyone can live in a place like this is about six months. It ruins your health. Sometimes I try to avoid telling people where I live.

I don’t expect any help from the government for people living in the camps. I think I’ll have to rely on myself to get out of this camp.