Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My loyal shadow

This is Robbie. Robbie is a videographer. He was hired by Angel Missions Haiti to be my shadow and film every move I make for 3 1/2 weeks.

OK, slight exaggeration. Robbie is here to film everything that Angel Missions does so that he can make a documentary on us and a few short clips to put on the website. Of course, this is Haiti, so he has also been carrying water, painting, preparing oral rehydration solutions, and helping us furnish the house at Delmas 5 that we recently rented to host our medical teams. His wife, Kristal, stayed with us for his first week here too and she got to play his assistant, my assistant, and Vanessa's assistant, depending on the day.

The house at Delmas 5 has been a source of much frustration for me. From plumbers who are hired to replace a blocked drain and instead rip out an entire bathroom, to electricians who leave unencased live wires within easy reach of Bill's neice and nephew, it has made me want to rip my hair out on more than one occasion. Edjour and I finally got all repairs done and then I was perfectly content to hand the task of furnishing the house over to Vanessa. I spent one day with her, helping to find rugs, kitchenware, a stove, brooms, and shelves, but for the most part, it has been Kristal, Edjour and Sendhie who have helped her turn the house into a home. It's quite comfortable now and has the major perk of having national electricity nearly 24/7.

Meanwhile, Robbie has been following me everywhere : to the ravine, to clinic, to cholera teaching sessions, to church, to the grocery store, to medical visa appointments, to tent cities during hurricanes...Sometimes I have to wear a cumbersome wireless microphone; other times, I have to give elaborate apologies to Haitians who think he is filming them and get insulted. Last week, I dedicated one afternoon solely to answering interview questions and feeling like Angelina Jolie.

I already had a good idea of what it's like to be a celebrity just from living in Haiti. People yell my name or "Blan" as I walk by in the street; children just want to touch me and play with my hair; doors of wealthy institutes open for me almost magically; I get moved to the front of lines at offices and banks; people who only barely know me will boast about their white "friend" Keziah and strategically meet me on the street so that others can observe them being recognized by the American. Well, thanks to Robbie, now I know another aspect of the celebrity lifestyle - the paparazzi part!

OK, another slight exaggeration. It's really not like paparazzi. I gave him permission to film me and he has been very sensitive to cultural taboos about filming and about giving me space when I want it. It's just a little odd to be treating a woman for her vaginal infection and suddenly remember that every word I say is being recorded and captured on film...


Lauren said...

those are lovely picture of you :) im glad youve got company down there, if it is a bit awkward. and thats great that his wife came down too!! do either of them speak any creole?

and the house at delmas 5 is GORGEOUS!! it doesnt look like it belongs in haiti, it looks like some resort in the bahamas or something. you guys did a great job with it!

Chops said...

Those are some great stills, Kez. I love the one with you looking exasperated and lecturing all the little girls with white ribbons in their hair.