Archive for August, 2010

August 19, 2010

Is the Haitian electorate stupider than any other?

Crowd of Cité Soleil residents trying to access aid back in January (Thony Belizaire, AFP)

Let’s assume from the outset that being illiterate means you don’t know how to read, not that you lack common sense.  Let’s assume that before the printing press hit the scene in the 1400s, human beings had figured out that, say, being a priest and being a merchant required different skillsets.

I’ve just read the umpteenth U.S. article about Wyclef Jean, which suggests he has a good chance of becoming president. He might. I just haven’t come across any convincing evidence that a large swath of the Haitian population thinks about Jean nearly as much as his American counterparts do. Key words: large swath. Please tell me in comments if I am wrong.

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August 10, 2010

Keeping DH Alive|How to write about Haiti

At a tent city in Fort Mercredi in Carrefours Feuilles, rainwater pools on the dirt ground and leaks through the woven plastic tarps.

Coming up on the end of my 6-week reporting trip to Haiti, I’m trying to figure out how to come back and how to keep this site alive.  It can’t work if I’m out gathering information, even worse if I have infrequent Internet access.  That was to be the topic of this post but then, last night, it rained.  Rain should be the most blessed thing in a land where sweat beads three minutes after stepping out of the shower.  It ain’t.

One morning after a hard rain a couple of weeks ago, I emailed one of my sources in Tapis Rouge (not the same camp shown in these pictures) asking her to explain what it’s like to live in a tent while it rains. And I don’t mean the lazy dazy kind.  When I’d asked for her email address the day before, she said that she checked it once a week at a cyber cafe more than an hour’s walk away from the camp.  I wasn’t sure I’d get a response but I did:

lapli a te vreman panike nou.nou te pase you bon pati nan nwit la debou .epi nou te tann dlo a bese pou ranje tapi pou n donmi .mwen ak fanmy m nap viv ak anpil espwa nan ke nou paske nou kwe nan Bondye . … mpanse diw tout mesi paske w panse avem.msalye ak  fanmy w m espere nou kenbe kontak…..olivia.

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August 9, 2010

Diaspora Haitians, go home despite the distrust

Street vendor in Jacmel, Haiti. (Swiatoslaw Wojtkowiak, Flickr)

by Deborah D. David

Of all the obstacles to face when returning home to Haiti, I never would have guessed my own people would be one of them.  Years ago when I was preparing to graduate college, an organization in Port-au-Prince hired me to work with ti machann, street vendors. I was really excited; I’d written my senior thesis about microcredit in Haiti.  What my university work could not prepare me for however, was the resistance of my Haitian co-workers to the “just come” in their midst.

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August 1, 2010

A Haitian mother opens up about her child’s repeat rapes in a camp

Self portrait: 10-year-old rape victim, Flore (not her real name)

This past Friday, one of nine remaining tents in one of Port-au-Prince’s better camps went to a 33-year-old mother of five whose 10-year-old daughter had been raped and molested by at least three different men on three separate occasions in another camp.  I happened to be there reporting another story so after, I went to find this woman.  I’ll call her Marie.

My translator’s face froze at a few points during the interview, which lasted about 45 minutes. Marie’s daughter was bright and cheery, giggling while taking pictures of her younger brothers and sisters with my digicam (it was upside down most of the time) while us four adults sat cross-legged on the ground.  After a bit of chit-chat I asked the fourth adult, a male member of the camp committee who showed us to the tent, to leave.  No fuss displayed but I’d basically come into someone’s house, his camp, and asked him to scram.  My translator went outside to smooth that over.  On his return, alone, Marie sat up and started talking like I’d flipped a switch.

In my mind, her story is a stand-in for those of the mothers of another camp, Tapis Rouge, where a woman leader said in reply to my direct question, “There’s no rape but a lot of our teen girls are pregnant.”

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