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Now I too know how the people of Haiti felt as aftershock brought a renewed sense of terror

The day starts with an earthquake and finishes with people getting supplies paid for by the Irish public.

The first big aftershock that I actually felt came yesterday morning. There'd been reports of others since last Saturday night when I arrived but I'd not noticed any of them. My alarm was set for 6am -- slightly unnecessary because sleeping outside means at dawn you wake up. This entire city wakes at dawn.

I've heard so many people tell their story of when the earthquake happened that the signs are obvious immediately.

This was a long, strong and shallow earthquake, nowhere near as powerful as the one that rocked Haiti over a week ago, but strong enough to terrorise and remind in equal parts.


I was sleeping in a mosquito net alongside the Goal staff on a former soccer field, turned field-hospital-come-helipad.

The creaking sound of the nearby galvanized roof and the buzzing in my head was enough to know this was the real deal. The buzz remains afterwards, a fizzy tinnitus reminder, leaving you disoriented. This was only an aftershock, a bauble to adorn the massive movement of the tectonic plates that are home to Haiti.

Now I know why the families sleep outside houses that appear habitable, or why they refuse to shelter behind portions of wall, or why parks have become swollen refugee camps, why the people sing and pray at night. The next aftershock could be bigger still, with no discernible pattern to give comfort or forewarning to the homeless, the sick and the weary.

There are signs that for the survivors, life is regaining routine albeit a weird, expensive and grinding one. The markets have reopened in patches, with pineapples that sold previously for $4 now retailing at $16, the four times increase in price the same as with the bus prices out of Port-au-Prince.

Thousands walk for hours to get to the airport as it's one of the few recognisible state buildings still standing. They wait for hours at the front door hoping to speak to anyone in power. One man, a teenager, showed me his hands and asked for a day's work. The atmosphere is tetchy, people bicker over their turn to talk, to tell their story. One shouts long and loud about the system, the government, the people of Haiti being betrayed and finishes with Allahu Akbar. If there was ever a time to foment public anger, this is it. In the vacuum of the week where aid was stock-piling at the airport, the population of Port-Au- Prince has been wandering or congregating.

Others, though, have taken the opportunity to organise, which should help catapult their community to the top of the aid tree. Perhaps the structures predate the quake, maybe they're because of it, but either way it's a sure sign that these are strong willed people.

They organise night-time security, share information and meagre resources. One group had handwritten rules on a whiteboard. The NGOs need communities, need clear lines of contact with large groups and they need to know their aid reaches the most needy. Random air drops, like those by the US Army can cause chaos -- the recipients think it's a limited store and fight for their lives over the cargo.


A day that began with a shuddering quake ended with the hopeful note of a distribution of aid from GOAL. On the ground, they're a hardcore bunch from all over the world -- Tobago, Turkmenistan and, of course, Ireland.

First light to midnight they work to bring packs, including plastic sheeting to cover ground and sky, kitchen kits for survivors to cook and food supplies. A team of nine built an organisation from scratch, sourced community leaders willing to marshal thousands of people, secured trucks, UN protection food supplies and materials and then distributed them. Concern, Trocaire, Haven and the Red Cross all have Irish people at their core in Haiti. They're the greatest ambassadors any country could have.