Slow road to recovery in quake-ravaged Haiti

Tue Jan 10, 2012 3:43pm EST
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By Kevin Gray and Joseph Guyler Delva

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - If there is hope in Haiti, it can be found in Mertilus Aland.

The 18-year-old eight-grader is flourishing in a new school built after Haiti's devastating earthquake, dreaming of one day becoming a doctor in the violent Haitian slum he calls home.

"Who knows where I'd be if it wasn't for this place," he said.

Bankrolled by a roster of Hollywood celebrities, the Academy of Peace and Justice is Haiti's first free secondary school and draws hundreds of children from Port-au-Prince's biggest slums.

Its success stands out in Haiti, which is still struggling to lift itself from the rubble left by an earthquake two years ago that killed roughly 300,000 people and left more than 1.5 million homeless.

Despite billions of dollars pledged by donors to help Haiti rebuild, reconstruction efforts remain painstakingly slow, with only incipient signs some progress may be taking hold.

The recovery effort, one of the world's biggest humanitarian and reconstruction operations involving more than 12,000 aid groups, has faced intense criticism that the international aid community has been too slow to shift gears from emergency aid to helping develop one of the world's poorest countries.

The dusty streets of the Haitian capital offer a glimpse of the work that remains. More than a half a million people still live in a critical situation in crowded tent camps, many without running water or electricity.   Continued...

<p>Students dust off their shoes before arriving at the Academy for Peace and Justice in Port-au-Prince January 9, 2012. REUTERS/Swoan Parker</p>