It is a strange town that could be straight out of a spaghetti western or a Jacques Tati film. Standing in the middle of a deserted area, 20 kilometres from Port-au-Prince, Morne-à-Cabri is a brand new huge housing estate with a perfectly laid out grid network of hundreds of colourful houses... which are empty. Wandering the asphalt streets, the visitor, hitherto used to Haitian urban chaos, is suddenly hit by a geometrical dizziness. Here, everything is orderly, everything is linear, and everything is lifeless.
Morne-à-Cabri- the goat moutain in Haitian Creole- is one of the most symbolic rehousing programs for the earthquake victims. Today, only about a hundred inhabitants actually live here, most of whom are police officers patrolling all day in an air-conditioned vehicle. The houses are new but badly designed, the tap water is salty, and boredom is an everyday reality. But the Haitian government promises that soon factories will be built and a police station. A new school should open at the start of the next school year...
After the disaster, the wave of solidarity had raised great hopes
For a journalist lacking inspiration, Morne-à-Cabri is the best metaphor for the post earthquake situation in Haiti. The scars left by the January 2010 earthquake are hardly visible anymore. The refugees have left their tents, or have been forced out. The rubble has been cleared off the streets. The NGOs have left. But the pre-existing issues, such as poverty, health and unemployment, remain.
The new Haiti
Yet, following the disaster, the show of solidarity gave rise to great hopes. Why not use this tragedy as a chance to wipe the slate clean, and “build Haiti back better”? With the billions of dollars of foreign aid, the authorities were in a position to launch major urban redevelopment projects, initiate agricultural, educational and health reforms; they could open the country to foreign investors, generate employment and reduce poverty. That was the aim of the new president Michel Martelly, elected early 2011 : the dream of “a new Haiti”.
Rebuilding Haiti is a matter of choice - often difficult ones. If you were in charge, what would you do? At the end of each of this story’s chapters, you will face a dilemma - all your decisions will have consequences. And the piece’s final part will take you in 2020, where you’ll be able to see the future you have built for Haiti.