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Haiti earthquake: helping others keeps Coriolain going

26-01-2010 Feature

Coriolain (31) has been with the Red Cross for six years. Right now, he is one of many volunteer first-aiders working in Port-au-Prince. He is living and working in an improvized camp located in a football stadium, in the Carrefour area of the capital. Coriolain shares the camp with over 2,800 others, all surviving in difficult circumstances. With the support of the ICRC, the Haitian Red Cross has opened a first-aid post in the camp, where the needs remain great.

  ©ICRC/M. Kokic/ht-e-00564    
Coriolain examines a man with an injured leg. “Right now, our biggest challenge is providing medical care. The rest will follow.”    
  ©ICRC/M. Kokic/ht-e-00498    
Carrefour football stadium, where over 2,800 people are living under difficult conditions.    

“Part of the house I lived in with my parents collapsed. But we all survived, thank God. At first, we slept in the street in Carrefour, and we’ve been here in the stadium since 15 January. Living squashed up with everyone is difficult, but you get used to anything.

We’ve had more than 40 people at the first-aid post this morning. For the first few days, people didn’t know what had hit them. The camps were a sort of refuge. Now, they’re realizing that this is where they’re living. Over the last few days, the camp’s been getting organized and the Haitian Red Cross is here. Before the first-aid post was set up, my colleagues and I went round the area with whatever first-aid kit we could get hold of.

 Living a day at a time  

At first, I just couldn’t accept what had happened. It was thanks to my work as a volunteer that I was able to keep going. Now I can take something of a step back, even if I don’t know what we’re going to do over the next few days. The hygiene situation is difficult, and we’re afraid there’ll be epidemics. We have to turn away patients with serious injuries, because we can’t treat them here.

Everyone around me is living a day at a time. There isn’t enough aid, but what we’re doing here is a first step. Right now, our biggest challenge is providing medical care. The rest will follow.”

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