Haiti welcomes World Cup as trauma therapy

Thu Jun 10, 2010 7:15pm EDT
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By Joseph Guyler Delva

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Soccer-mad Haitians are revving up to watch the World Cup on large-screen televisions at makeshift camps, their first collective therapy since the devastating January earthquake that killed up to 300,000 people and left more than 1 million homeless.

In the crowded camps in the Haitian capital and other quake-stricken areas, people say they are ready to watch the World Cup even though Haiti's team did not qualify for the month-long event that starts on Friday in South Africa.

"I lost everything I had in the disaster and I can't help thinking about how miserable my life has become," 36-year-old Jean-Marie Sannon told Reuters on Thursday.

Sannon stood under a makeshift tent in an overcrowded camp in the Champ de Mars area near what remained of the presidential palace that collapsed in the magnitude 7 earthquake that hit on January 12.

He said that if Brazil wins he will be happy for the rest of the year.

"I probably would have become crazy if the World Cup were not organized this time around," Sannon said. "But if Brazil is champion, I'll spend the rest of the year celebrating even without a dollar."

The government and several national and foreign sponsors have set up giant screens in popular areas, around tent cities and elsewhere to help residents watch the games.

"During the World Cup I probably will continue to go hungry and to face all the problems I have been facing, but I don't think I'll have time to think about that," said 27-year-old Norluck Moreau.   Continued...