Haitian self-reliance

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Haitian President Rene Preval has made an urgent appeal for more tents to house up to a million people left homeless by the quake two weeks ago. His call came as donor nations and international organizations met in Montreal to assess the aid effort and plan the next steps. However not all Haitians are simply waiting for help from the outside, as WAMU's Sabri Ben Achour reports.

MARCO WERMAN: I'm Marco Werman and this is The World. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today rebuked critics of the U.S. effort to help survivors of the earthquake in Haiti. Those critics have included officials from France, Brazil and Italy. Haitians themselves have complained that food, medicine and water have been slow to reach them, but Secretary Clinton today said she resents those who attack U.S. efforts to respond to historically disastrous conditions. Meanwhile, Haitians are finding ways to help themselves as we learn in this report from Sabri Ben-Achour in Port-au-Prince.

SABRI BEN-ACHOUR: At the half collapsed St. Francois de Salle hospital amputees lie in gurneys in the grass and in the garden. A few have tarps above them, others just the trees. One woman is injected with Morphine on what remains of her amputated leg as her wound is dressed. Nearby a group of nurses is folding linens. They begin singing to her. Their songs praise God for keeping them alive.

Madame Pierre Viaux is head nurse. We aren't anybody special but God did miracles for us. So many died, but we're alive. When we sing it gives comfort to the patients and they know that soon they'll feel better.

In what in normal times would be a stone paved parking area, Michelle Marielaude leans on a baby's crib where her nine-year-old nephew sits quietly. He has some bandages and a lot of scrapes, but he'll be okay. Soon the family will go back to a camp in the public square that they now call home. We're a family, my sister, my nephew. I asked them what there is to eat. Nothing, nothing at all she says. Doesn't the Ministry of Health help and NGO I ask. No, our Haitian friends, our neighbors help us.

Neighbors are helping each other everywhere we look here, up in the hills perched over the devastated city Fritz Mevs walks through the rubble strewn floors of his crumbling mansion. The Christmas tree is still standing. Not one of the golden ornaments broke in the earthquake. Mevs didn't lose family and he can afford to rebuild, so he shrugs off the loss of his home. Mevs says he's much more concerned about others in his neighborhood. Their homes are gone and two dozen are living in his garden. About a third are children and they take turns singing. The songs end when one of the little boys chimes in. My father is dead, he sang.

These neighbors didn't have much before the earthquake and they have less now. But they do have each other. Twenty-one year old Jamson Coassiq. Mr. Mevs is our neighbor and he's helped us a lot with food and water. Mevs son, Digo, pulls up in an SUV full of water bottles he'll fill for the people here.

DIGO: We're still bringing every morning food and water. Like right now I just brought a bag of rice.

SABRI BEN-ACHOUR: The stew for that rice is simmering over a charcoal fire a few yards away by a patch of ginger lilies. Dinner for everyone. This neighborhood he says, has become like a big family. For The World, I'm Sabri Ben-Achour, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.