It’s the morning of Corpus Christi, Fête Dieu, in Haiti. The sun rises early, along with a chorus of voices singing hymns all over Port-au-Prince. Altar boys in flowing white robes and girls in communion dresses weave rosary beads through their fingers. Their parents walk at their side, their faces glowing in the sun.
CORPUS Christi processions are meant to commemorate Christ’s body in pain, but manyHaitians have their own pain. The procession circles a displacement camp where mothers are bathing their children in front of the layers of frayed tarp they call home. Before entering the crowd with her grandmother, my 6-year-old daughter, Mira, who is returning to Port-au-Prince for the first time since the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake, repeats something she’s told us many times since we landed in the city: “I thought everything was broken.”
Built for 200,000 people yet home to more than 2 million, Port-au-Prince is a city that constantly reminds you of the obvious, as though you were a 6-year-old. No, not everything is broken. And no, not all the people are dead. It is a city that everything—political upheaval, fires, hurricanes, the earthquake—has conspired to destroy, yet still it carries on. The still-leaning houses and the rubble that has begun to grow weeds, the tent camps that have become micro-cities of their own, all bear their own testimony to a city that should have ground to a halt long ago, yet continues to persevere. MORE