Sunday, March 27, 2011

Last Week

After a week-long absence, electricity has returned, of course in the middle of the night.  As a friend pointed out, sleep is overrated, so I'll  blog, a verb I didn't know existed 5 years ago. Due to election closures, our weekly schedule was thrown off, so to-day we will head up Mon Granjil to Sen Rafayel. We have a piece of land to look at and 14 interviews scheduled.

Last week, election day came and went with a minimum of violence. Jack worked for a local senatorial candidate and reported that the biggest challenge he faced throughout the day was helping those who could not read or write with their voting.As long as they presented a valid electoral card, they were eligible. Many did not vote, as election violence and other irregularities in November  had produced 2 presidential candidates who did not provide the choice many wanted to see. It will be an interesting 5 years, whatever the result.

The history of Haiti was altered in other less public ways on March 20. In Sen Rafayel, sisters Fabiola, Adminada and Rose-Evenia lost their grandmother. During a home visit in January, Mme told us that she was 98 years old. Exact age is often unknown and usually decided upon by relating birthdate to the person who was in power at the time. It could be off by several years either way. I had wanted to talk with her about the changes she had seen during her lifetime, but home visits don't provide that luxury.  Her story will never be told.

Joceline attended a funeral that day. The last member of her mother's family, an uncle, died leaving 7 children between the ages of 5 and 15. His wife had died in childbirth 5 years previous. Cousins divided the 5 youngest between them, leaving a 12 year old and a 15 year old. Joceline said her heart broke for them (li te kraze ke'm) so she is adding them to her family. She is a widow with 7 children of her own. She lives in a 6'x8' shack which contains one bed, a table for 2 and a television set rescued from a dump. The house has no electricity so it doesn't matter that the set is useless.

Schools were closed the day after elections, and some took the entire week, once again giving our young people free time they do not want. The price of gas rose as well. Friday we paid 200 gds (just over $5. US) for a gallon of gas. We are told via radio that these increases will be permanent as the country had been receiving subsidies which have expired. The price of all public transit has increased, making life more difficult if that is possible. We paid more for rice and beans this week also. Increases in food costs jeopardize our food distribution program. Everything is increasing. Last week we paid 500 gourdes each for dictionaries - we were so happy to find them. To-day we paid 625 gourdes each at the same place for the same item. The schools ask that each student have French, English, Spanish and Kreyol dictionaries. Friday Centre de Formation Classique sent students in one class home if they did not have dictionaries. Keeping up is a challenge.

Last week also saw the return of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. I sat with the staff and watched his speech from the airport. We'll never know what could have been under his leadership, as his potential was denied. Let us hope that the private citizen is left alone to continue what the public servant began.  If you're interested in the truth with insightful commentary  behind the often confusing media reports, The Uses of Haiti by Dr. Paul Farmer  (Common Courage Press, 3rd ed. Dec. 2005) is an excellent resource. Others who provide accurate reportage are journalists Kim Ives and Laura Flynn. The Miami Herald  can always be counted on as well. It says a lot when the number of unbiased journalists, with no hidden agenda,  can be counted on one hand.

More from the other side of Sen Rafayel.

Daniel here: Here's a link to the latest article by Kim Ives that Sharon mentions as a journalist that provides accurate reporting.


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