House cats in Haiti may seem an indulgent luxury, but I can assure you, they are not. House cats earn their keep by controlling mice and cockroaches.
And everyone and everything suffers here, including the animals. For example, just last night, I was wakened by the sounds from a dog that had been crying in hunger for 2 days. Its owners had finally let her off leash, and she began throwing herself against our portail about midnight.
I woke to this din at the door, and realized what was happening, so I took some dog food to the gate, and put it through the bottom opening. The poor thing literally inhaled the food! Dog food is plentiful in the stores, as dogs are used (and abused) for security purposes. Cats, on the other hand, are eaten by a starving population, so there's no need to feed them.
It is now 2:30 a.m., and I can't sleep nor can our cats -- Lucy and Charlie Brown - so they are guarding me as I compose this update. We are desperate for cat food here. No amount of money will help this as it is just not available for purchase in Cap-Haitien.
Again I am asking all visitors to please help by bringing some cat food:
The cats tolerate IAMS brand dry and tinned cat food. The cats are constantly vomiting from the human food we try to feed them.
The problem goes back to customs and the recent, ongoing difficulties in shipping goods to Haiti: In November, I sent 6 months worth of food to Haiti. This cat food is still sitting on the docks in Haiti, though likely by now, it's been eaten by rats or carried off by thieves.
If each person in each group planning to come to Haiti to see us would PLEASE bring a bag and a few tins in their luggage, we would have healthy animals again.
I really need to have these 'live mouse traps' at the house. If any group is willing to purchase cat food and bring it here, in bulk, I will gladly reimburse all receipts. I have put out similar requests with only one person out of 10 recent visitors responding.
Thank you to our recent visitors Melanie, Shera, Kathy and Joan for your help with painting, preparing food sacks and helping staff purchase and transport water, charcoal and paint supplies, as well as for making home visits. Your courage is large.
Some thoughts in closing from Paul Farmer in The Uses of Haiti:
. . . illiteracy, poverty and disease constitute human rights violations. More specifically these are violations of social and economic rights" ..."The violations are not caused by Haiti but by its powerful neighbours . . . (p 351)To order a copy of this book, see this blog post.
. . . without social and economic rights, political rights have no soil to grow in. The brutality in Haiti's streets will not be tamed by legal reform or by extralegal political action but by confronting poverty and disease. (ibid 372)
Beni-w and Happy Easter, all!