PORT AU PRINCE - Under a blue tarp strung up to shield against the baking sun, a woman's voice bursts out in a rhythmic chant that fills the tent camp around it.
She's swaying in a small, pink plastic chair, clutching a dog-eared hymn book and singing in Creole, with sudden fits of wild shouting like she's exorcising a demon. A thin man stands beside her, drumming a beat on a wooden table. Suddenly the chanting is over, and the woman opens her eyes. Seeing a visitor, she smiles, and explains she's praying because, like a lot of people in Haiti, she is troubled.
“I can't pass the day without it, “ explains Marie-Angela Jabrun, out of breath and sweating. “This is the only thing that makes me feel better.” When you live in a displaced persons camp like Jabrun - a rambling collection of tarps, tents, scrap metal and salvaged wood that some 3,500 people call home - sometimes prayer is all you've got.
A year ago, it seemed the whole world was ready to help Haiti rebuild following the earthquake that killed 316,000 people and inflicted as much as $14 billion in damage on the impoverished country. But most of the world seems to have moved on. Canadians now have other crises to consider, like those in Japan or Libya, not to mention the task of choosing a new federal government.
In Jabrun's camp, across the street from the La Paix hospital where the St. Joseph's International Outreach Program has been sending volunteers for years, the only sign of rebuilding is the dozens of young people in blue World Vision T-shirts paid $5 a day to clean up garbage.
The residents here are worried the NGOs (non-governmental organizations) - and there are more here per capita than any other country in the world - are becoming fed up with the pace of recovery and leaving them.
“If they find nothing has been fixed in this country, they will stop giving money, “ said Compas Esther, a manager at Jabrun's camp.
Some foreign groups have already pulled out, leaving the Haitians to fend for themselves. At La Paix, the Koreans pulled out months ago.
“There was a clinic here in the camp but they took it away when their contract ended. Now if a person has cholera, where will they take them?” Esther asked.
Most likely, they'll end up in a pit on the outskirts of town, where men employed by the Ministry of Health are paid to bring the disease's victims.
The families of cholera victims refuse to touch the bodies. They leave that to the men in haz-mat suits, who spray the victims' rooms in bleach, stuff cotton into every orifice and load them into a plastic body bag before unceremoniously dumping them in a mass grave.
That Haiti has an outbreak of cholera - a disease caused by contaminated water and food, and easily vaccinated against - says a lot about the depth of the problems here. In the three months between October and December 2010, about 150,000 people contracted the disease and about 3,500 died. Some experts worry the death toll could reach 11,000 by November.
But cholera is only the latest addition to the long list of afflictions Haitians must battle. High rates of child mortality, illiteracy and malnutrition remain some of the country's biggest challenges.
Much of that is caused by extreme poverty, which many Haitians say has its historical roots in oppression at the hands of foreign rulers - first the Spanish, then French, then, to a lesser extent, the Americans. Their own leaders worsened matters with horrific racially based campaigns of revenge that scared away immigrants, investment and foreign trade.
Haiti's presidential track record has been marked by personal greed, countless coups and economic blunders that helped turn Haiti from the richest colony in the western hemisphere at the time of its independence to the poorest country in the west today.
Corruption and incompetent governance remain among the biggest obstacles to rebuilding. Many Haitians believe most government officials are on the take - and a string of leaders who have been caught stealing from public coffers have only reinforced this notion.
“No one trusts the government, “ declares Fritz Dorceus, a 26-year-old Haitian who works as a translator at La Paix. “They just care about themselves. … You are nothing to them.”
Haitians have a right to be angry at the slow pace of reconstruction. More than a million still live in temporary camps like Jabrun, and there's more rubble than new buildings in the capital city. Fourteen months after the country's worst natural disaster in 200 years, they're not expecting their government to fix their problems any time soon.
“They can't do anything quickly, “ said Esther. “They have a lot of things to do, and they don't have time to think about the people living on the ground.”
Few seem to think the presidential election result, delayed yet again this week, will do anything to improve things. Most seem to be worried about the violence it may bring between rival political factions more than optimistic about any promise of change.
There are a few hopeful signs, from the progress at La Paix to the new wooden homes being built by foreign money around Port au Prince - but the future here remains very much unclear and the despair plaguing the country is overwhelming.
Still, Haiti stumbles on.
Before the earthquake, Josiane Beauvoix used to run a second-hand shoe shop in Port au Prince. The quake “took everything, “ the 44-year-old said. Now she lives in a tent that gets so hot under the Caribbean sun that she can't stay in it past 6 a.m.
Ever since a bullet passed through her left foot during rioting in December, she has used crutches to hobble around the camp. She doesn't really know how she was shot, only that this is a country where police and armed gangs seem to open fire at each other indiscriminately.
Beauvoix says she doesn't want to live here - it's dangerous, filthy and there's no escape from the stifling heat. But she doesn't have any other place to go.
“I like to think that things are going to get better, “ she said. “But I don't know that things will get better.”