"I am not supposed to be sleeping in the streets," said Robas, 29, a member of
As walls crumbled and the slums spilled into the streets, the
Those who lost the least have received the most help, and those who lost the most have received the least.
"The worst place to be right now in this country is the middle class," said
In many cases, post-quake charitable dollars and goods flowing into the country have allowed
But for the middle class, the disparity is unbearable. The quake that took a government-estimated 300,000 lives not only took their homes and livelihood, it also wiped away social status in a country where that is priceless.
On a hillside one recent Sunday morning, where once comfortable houses made up the middle class Petionville neighborhood of Morne Lazard, homeowners looked at the rubble and told a tale of anger and helplessness.
Almost six months after the quake,
Mostly absent in the homeless camps, they choose instead to sleep in tents in the front yards of their damaged homes, or in neighborhood streets cordoned off with boulders and vehicles.
They're still struggling to come to terms with their tumble from grace.
"They've forgotten us," said
Before the quake,
When the quake hit, the family's three-story home on a mountainside collapsed, killing her father who ran a neighborhood grocery store, a brother and a 5-year-old nephew.
"There are no words to describe it," said Thelisma, 27, who lost a total of 11 family members. "You are back at zero."
Thelisma has had to rely on the charity of friends for clothes and a place to sleep. Her mother, sister and two younger brothers are scattered.
Even before the magnitude 7.0-quake shook
Mostly black, the middle class is defined more by its common values and quality of life, than income or political ideology.
"The moment you arrive at a place in this society
where you have something someone can take from you — a radio, a
refrigerator — you're klas mwayen,"
A member of what's known here as the intellectual middle-class, Bazin was deeply concerned about the neglect of
But it's also a class that has been unable to find its place in a society where 80 percent live on less than
Empowered during the 1940s and emboldened during the
early years of the Duvalier dictatorship, many in the middle class
later fled, forced by turmoil and lured by opportunity, to
In the days and weeks after the quake, their exodus continued as many grabbed their passports and children and hopped flights.
In a country increasingly dependent on foreign aid, Thelisma and others say
They watch helplessly as the government attempts to convince homeless quake victims to return to homes that either did not exist — or were mere shacks, even before the quake as their own lots remain clogged with debris. They can neither afford the cost of rebuilding nor the rubble removal.
"Everyone wants to concentrate their actions on the camps, and the very poor," said Prime Minister
"That is not going to change anything in
Bellerive and others say that what
"We are living in apartheid," said
For weeks now, Voltaire has been waging a quiet battle to turn 9,884 acres the government seized into a mixed-used development for both poor and middle-class families.
He sees the quake and reconstruction as an opportunity to create a revolution in the country's social consciousness — not just to build homes in a country struggling with a massive housing shortage even before the disaster wiped out 100,000 homes.
It's a difficult battle in a society where there are
degrees of classism even among the poor. To illustrate his point,
Voltaire recalls when President
The non-Cite Soleil residents protested, saying they did not want "assassins and thieves" living next to them.
"I said 'They are Haitians. What do you want us to do with them?' They said 'put them in a sack and drop them in the sea,' " he recalled.
Voltaire sees the government-acquired land between the community of Bon Repos and city of Cabaret as a chance to change that mindset.
"We want to show there are opportunities for everybody," he said. "That should be a new vision, that we want to mix all the classes."
(c) 2010, The Miami Herald.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.