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Temblor Still Haunts Orphans in Haitian Orphanage

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Though 18 days have passed since the big jolt, Charles Marc Antoine still finds it hard to answer or react to Janina's question.

"Why did someone pull Mama Jean-Jean's wall down?"

It was this question from Janina, four years and a half, that led orphanage workers including Antoine to her rescue in the rubble where she remained buried for four whole days in the Foyer de Notre Dame de la Nativite orphanage.

Though Antoine could now manage a bitter smile at the question, he could not laugh away the answer to it.

The Creator of the world was that someone who had pulled down Mama Jean-Jean's wall and the destruction had taken away with it the lives of 52 of Janina's orphanage-mates.

Two of her schoolmates were amputated while several others are still being hospitalized for various injuries in a hospital on the nearby Caribbean island of Martinique.

Antoine just does not know how to explain the why to Janina's question.

"Some of the children are traumatized, fearing the next aftershock. They sometimes speak about their lost friends," said Eveline Louis Jacques or Mama Jean-Jean who heads of the orphanage.

Seventy-eight children have survived the quake and 36 nannies and nurses are taking care of them in the orphanage, with food portions provided by the French embassy in Haiti. A group of French firefighters fetch drinking water to the orphanage every other day.

A French general practitioner, Dr. Francois Chaigne, who flew in four days after the January 12 quake to offer medical check-ups to all the children who survived.

The surviving children are staying behind what once was their four-storeyed home which is situated in the Carrefour quarter of the Haitian capital.

Antoine and his fellow orphanage workers have started to fear for more questions from the surviving children, as omnipresent flies keep reminding them of the bodies of 13 deceased children still buried in the rubble of the collapsed building.

Orphanage workers have so far dug out with bare hands and simple tools and removed the bodies of 22 deceased children from the rubble.

Antoine, Jacques, Chaigne and her husband Jean-Christophe who arrived to adopt orphans arranged all the surviving children to sleep in three large tents while they themselves sleep in the open at night.

"It was a beautiful place, like paradise, but it was just destroyed," Antoine said.

(Xinhua News Agency February 1, 2010)