Looking for a resting place...

For the past few weeks, Port-au-Prince and Haiti’s other big cities have been the scene of kidnapping, murder, and protests. During the day you walk around looking over your shoulder, particularly if you’re going to or coming from a bank. At night you sleep with one eye open and the ears attuned to the least unfamiliar noise. You don’t feel safe; you can’t feel safe. So few policemen and patrols on the streets, too many gunmen roaming freely throughout the cities on motorcycles or official-matriculated vehicles. At such a time, you come to think about living in the countryside, where most noise comes from birds chirping in the sky or the wind whooshing through the leaves.

Last September, when I went to Labiche for a couple of days, I got a taste of life in the countryside. With its small population, thatched-roof dwellings, no running water and electricity, Labiche is close to wilderness, just the place to be when the cities are too hot, both weather-wise and politic-wise.

In the coming months, we plan to bring a mobile clinic at Labiche. It won’t be any clinic; it will be like having Pernier’s or Carrefour Feuilles’ Repheka clinic at Labiche, but for a day, and on a monthly basis. Besides a nurse and two physicians, we’ll have essential medications and rapid lab tests, such as Malaria, pregnancy test, Widal, blood glucose, etc.

The current turmoil in Port-au-Prince gives us one more reason to expand our services to the countryside. Not only we’ll bring quality care to people living in isolated areas of the country, we’ll also take a break from the craziness of the big cities.

Honor, Respect, Decency, no more...

Not long ago, particularly on the countryside, when you knock at people’s door, you’d say Honor, and they’d answer Respect. Honor, Respect, and Decency used to be at the core of our Haitian fabric. Those were basic principles transmitted from generation to generation. But, somehow, we have lost those virtues. Nowadays, Honor and Respect are bestowed only on the rich and powerful, regardless of the means used in gaining wealth or political clout, and Decency has become a thing in the past. You get abused every day, at all times, if not by bikers or drivers violating all road safety rules, it is by D-jays on street corners pumping up their Tisourit beats. If it’s not by stiff-lipped workers barely moving a finger to help you out, it is by nurses or physicians not giving a hoot about your care. Even the dead, as you can see in the picture below, don’t get any respect.

There's still beauty

Many times I refrain myself from publishing negative news about Haiti. People are often too eager to expose the ugly sides of the country, as if there’s no beauty in this island that was once called “The Pearl of the Caribbean” (La Perle des Antilles). These people behave like the man in the picture below: He buried himself into a dumpster, fishing through the trash, while  life goes on all around him.

For those of us living in Haiti, despite the insecurity, the corruption, and the contradictions, we must find each day a ray of hope, a reason to persevere, and a source of enjoyment.

Dark clouds over Haiti

A few hours before Sandy’s heavy winds and downpours, dark clouds hung over the city. Since then, it’s been well…dark in Haiti. The specter of insecurity haunts everyone. Nobody you can trust. Every night ends with prayers for safe passage to the next morning, and every morning starts with prayers for safe return home in the afternoon. No more carefree days, lingering parties into the night, or bursts of laughter on street corners. Then came Jacmel with its outrage, and so comes the hope that we too, in Port-au-Prince, can rise as ONE to say NO to impunity.

Oh the little gems...

It was a sunny Tuesday morning, en route to the Carrefour Feuilles Clinic, in traffic jam, on the Tabarre Road. Two lanes becoming four. I was trapped in the middle. But a burst of laughter, when I looked up and saw a tap tap right in front of me. No, more like a cage, with passengers stranded inside. And this young guy, carefree in a white shirt with a picture of an open winged eagle, standing on a step at the back, watching over the mess, like an angel. Oh the little gems of everyday life in Haiti, my poor country!