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Haiti

Seneque Rosier, 47

Haitian internally displaced by the earthquake of 12 January 2010.

When I came to Port-au-Prince I built my own house but it collapsed during the earthquake. I was working at the time and all of a sudden buildings started collapsing all around. Almost all of the buildings in our neighbourhood collapsed and the streets were blocked by the rubble. The earthquake plunged everyone into poverty. There were many dead and no way to bury them all. I carried lots of bodies to the graveyard. My sister and mother both died in the earthquake. I wasn’t even able to attend my mother’s funeral.

After the earthquake, we slept in the street for a few nights and then went to a camp where we put up a tent. At first we didn’t have any sheeting for the tents but after a few days the Red Cross gave us some. There were no jobs and I didn’t know how to provide for my family until a friend of mine told me about a job opportunity which now allows me to take care of my family. I feel very proud of this job I didn't have any hope before but now I do.

My job is to empty the latrines. When they get very full they start to smell terribly and people have nowhere else to go to the toilet. The job always existed but now it is more common because of the earthquake and the camps. The person who goes into the latrine is trained for the task, some people go into the latrine naked but not from our team. It’s a very hard job, it can affect your health, carrying a bucket full of faeces is bad for your health and breathing in the foul smell all the time can be dangerous. You can only spend an hour in the latrine at a time. After emptying the truck we go to the showers and we have special soap and sanitiser we use for the skin and we throw away the clothes, it's cheaper to buy used clothes.

None of my family know I do this, I don't want them to know. My wife doesn't know anything, she thinks I am working as a security guard. She might walk out on me if she knew. The creole word is Bayakou, it means 'people who clean the latrines'. Traditionally people used to look down on the Bayakou, when someone says 'Bayakou' to me I don't care, I know it is a profession, it's something you do to earn money. Our job is important, if we didn't do this there would be trouble everywhere people have latrines.

I hope for a better life with more food and other things for me and my family. As soon as we’ll be able to rent a house we will move. The situation here is very difficult, especially for those people who are unable to leave the camp and get stuck here. Some people don’t mind because they can run their businesses here but ultimately it’s in God’s hands. It's a matter of non organisation the way the government rules over this nation. The guys in authority treat the population unfairly since they own the wealth they don't really care about the people, we've never got anything from the state.