“Camp Aviation”, from ruins to life

Cholera epidemic, spreading to Haiti last month, finds its source in the Artibonite region, fed by the river of the same name. A woman carries a basin, 16 november 2010, in the fishermen neighbourhood of Gonaïves, Artibonite. Photo by Olivier LABAN-MATTEI

ocated in the heart of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, the “Aviation” Camp is a huge area, grid in 7 blocks, hosting almost 60,000 people  affected by the earthquake of  2010 January 12th. Nearly a year after the disaster that devastated the capital, the situation of victims remains unchanged. In block 6, the victims chose to bounce back and organize their survival, considering the lack of practical help. They opened a school, set up associations for women, established churches. As their situation has not evolved, “Camp Aviation” settles as an emerging slum.

Caught between “Cité Soleil” and Delmas, the main road of the capital, thousands of shelters were built on this old airfield dismantled in 1994 under Aristide. Dropped by a nearly inexistant government and overwhelmed NGOs, the victims are left by themselves. The desire to get out of a daily survival leads them towards a necessary organization.
Solidarity was set up spontaneously and each one gave its skills to the community. Some of them have been selected to install an administrative and social structure. Feminist associations, youth organization and a health center have emerged. Churches were built and a school now welcome 65 pupils.

In block 6, the housing situation is evolving. Using the remains of planes and helicopters, the quikly built tents of the first days no longer look like temporary shelters.  Sheets of iron and wood structures now provide more sophisticated and viable places to stay. Individual energies are now followed by the hope of the community to rebuild a decent environment.

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