“This is a dangerous place for a woman,” said Jasmine Charles, with a toddler on her hip. A man standing nearby said that the perimeter of the camp was relatively safe. “But go in deep? They will cut you and rob you, brother.”
More Keynes than Kumbaya
All camps in Haiti are heartbreaking, but the Champ de Mars is the most visible, a monument to endurance and despair, in a public space as prominent in Port-au-Prince as the Mall in Washington.
In the predawn hours of Dec. 6, hundreds of aid workers stole into the sprawling camp and dashed from shanty to shack, waking those inside and asking for the head of the household, to award them a plastic ID bracelet.
Aid officials knew from experience that the population of the camp would double overnight if word got out that the international community was coming bearing gifts.
Now the 5,000 households must decide what they will do. There are three options. The vast majority — probably 90 percent of the camp — are renters. They can accept a $500 rental subsidy and find a place to live. Based on surveys of local real estate, that is enough money to rent a small space for a year.