Haiti's President Preval pleads for tents for quake homeless

The Miami HeraldJanuary 26, 2010 

One family has used a Haitian flag to pitch its tent at Mais Gate, a shantytown for the homeless near Port-au-Prince airport. Another fashioned its tent from a five-by-five cloth adorned with an image of Jesus.

Residents say only about a dozen of nearly 1,000 families there have real tents. The rest are make-shift dwellings erected with wooden branches, dug in the ground with machetes and rocks.

Haitian and relief officials are asking the world to send tents, tents and more tents to shelter hundreds of thousands of homeless who are sleeping outdoors before a mini-rain season starts next month.

"If it rains, we'll get all wet," said Dieubon Accine, 17, whose family improvised their tent from USAID rice and bean sacks. "And the ground will turn into mud."

From his makeshift dwelling, he could see over the airport wall to where U.S. Army soldiers have erected a sea of large green tents. "Now those are real tents," Accine said.

The quake so ravaged the nation's infrastructure. On Monday, President René Préval issued an urgent international appeal for 200,000 tents, each of which can hold a family of eight.

The 7.0 earthquake shook Haiti two weeks ago, and celebrities continue to use their star power to try to ease the suffering of the Haitian people.

Actor John Travolta piloted a Boeing 707 into Port-au-Prince Monday night with 50 doctors, 7,000 pounds of medical supplies and 4,500 military rations onboard for hungry Haitians. He returned to Miami later the same day, shuttling an unknown number of Haitian Americans home in the trip, which was sponsored by the Church of Scientology.

To read the complete article, visit www.miamiherald.com.

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