Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My two Haiti's

In my 2 month absence, Haiti has not changed very much. The open spaces are still full of tent cities and people are still more desperate for jobs, food, school and medical care than they were before the quake. On Delmas 91, my tent city looks very similar. The tarps have been fortified a little, but my neighbors still get wet when it rains hard. A few people have moved home or to other areas, but in their wake, new families have come. We are lucky to have such a small and well managed tent city; others are not so fortunate. My collegue, a Haitian doctor named Joey, spent a week living in one of the large tent cities and was horrified at what he saw. He commented particularly on the young women who are taken advantage of by the men on the tent city committee in exchange for food, protection, and other favors.

The only progress that I have seen with my own eyes is the demolition of some of the collapsed buildings in the Delmas area. Caribbean Market is being taken down, level by level, and the large building that was blocking my street for months is finally being removed.

As buildings are demolished, the rubble is simply dumped in the streets. Many roads that were already painfully narrow are now nigh upassable. Some people, like St Joseph's, are able to pay for a private dump truck to come regularly to remove rubble, but others leave it there. Presumably, they hope that the government will send trucks to remove it. Seems a vain hope.

It's all rather depressing. And so I turn back to my Two Haiti Philosophy. In my mind, there are 2 Haiti's: the entire nation of Haiti and the little Haiti that includes the people that I personally interact with on a regular basis. When I look at Haiti as a whole, I am deeply discouraged. The country's problems appear to multiple each year that I am here and in some ways, I feel like by being here, I am contributing to the pit that Haiti has been dug into. However, when I look at mini-Haiti, Kez's Haiti, I smile. In this Haiti, I see parents learning how to better care for their children. I see young people growing in faith and in love for those around them. I see babies who should have died thriving. When I look at little Haiti, I am hopeful.

A young artist has been painting a slogan on the walls of the city. It proclaims in bold letters and drawings the attitude of the Haitian people. Living here, I have learned to cling to that same manifesto: Haiti will not perish!

1 comment:

Mama Beth said...

I love your new title photo -- speaks for the Haiti that keeps you going back. Who is she?