Dominion of New York


January 12, 2012

Faces of the Recovery: 4 Haitian Elders Talk about Life After the Quake

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Written by: Kelly Virella

he international aid organization Helpage published 25 photos and interviews with its elderly clients through its Flickr account. Here are 4 particularly poignant ones.

1. Janvier Marie Liliane

Picture 1 of 4

Janvier Marie Liliane, Camp Acra, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Street vendor
January 11, 2011
Photo by Frederic Dupoux/ HelpAge International 2011

“I was in the street selling food when the earthquake struck. I fell to the floor screaming ‘Jesus, Jesus’. But after that I didn’t really panic. I felt confident. I went to my house and it had completely collapsed. I lived with my nephew, niece and daughter but luckily no one was hurt. My husband died years ago. We slept in the street for seven days. Then I came here to this place and started living in the camp. But I live alone.”

“It’s not safe for young women here because they are targets for gender violence so I didn’t want my niece and daughter to be here. They live with friends in different houses and I send money to them. I used to sell rice, corn and other food but I lost it all in the earthquake. A friend of mine told a HelpAge Community Agent that I needed money to start up again and they put me on the list for a cash grant. I got $50 which really helped me. I bought candies, water and sodas and started small but I hope to grow the business.”

“I can feed myself now and send money to my daughter and niece. In the morning I sell the drinks and candy. In the afternoons I go to buy more stock and then in the evenings I sell notebooks and cigarettes. I am a member of the older people’s association that HelpAge set up. I take part in everything. I visit other older people too. I am ready to serve others.I still have hope even though I lost my house. Things will get better some day. I pray to God that HelpAge keeps doing what its doing.”

About the Author

Kelly Virella
Kelly Virella lives in an East Harlem walk-up with her husband, her bicycle and her books. She's worked as a journalist for 11 years and started this website during the summer of 2011. She fell in love with New York City during her first visit here as a 16-year-old and finally made good on her promise to move here in April 2010.


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