Thursday, February 23, 2012

Still in Camps

Even though it's been more than two years since the earthquake, there are still a half a million people here living in displacement camps. This Washington Post article describes the situation better than I can. With Other Worlds, Alexis is working alongside Haitian organizations that are trying to push for much-needed public housing as one solution. I just take the pictures. The last one of these ran on the front page of the Post on Monday:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Possibly the best new character to appear in this year's kanaval, a mockery of the role of the UN's MINUSTAH soldiers in Haiti:

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Reimagining Cité Soleil as a GARDEN

On what used to be an acre of trash, amazing friends over at Pax Christi in Cité Soleil have imagined this wonderful project (Haiti's largest urban vegetable garden, planted by children) into being:

It's called the Tap Tap Garden. See here the press release from Bochika, the organization that, along with SOIL (who also put composting toilets on the site), helped make this happen with the support of MCC and others. Be inspired. Really.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The bus awaits...

to take me to kanaval!

Ok, so it's not really waiting. In fact, after I hop on a motorcycle taxi to get down to Portail Légoane, I'll have to find a bus going to Jacmel. I'll purchase a ticket and sit on the bus until it seems full, then sit some more until it's absolutely packed (and there's a goat, or at least a chicken, poking me in the thigh). Finally, after a four-or-so-hour trip that traverses the mountains, I'll arrive in Jacmel.

Ben is already there, working on a story. We'll be staying at a friend's house in Jacmel until Monday, though we hope to escape to the beach for a bit, too. Carnival celebrations are well underway there (as here), but Sunday is the big parade. Street theater, pumping music, elaborate and fantastical costumes, perhaps a wee bit of rum...  I'd better go pack my best dancing shoes!

By the way, do you think my mask will get crushed on the bus?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Better use of UNDP funding?

My sister recently forwarded us the most amazing e-mail (scroll down). "Two Million and Five Hundred Thousand British Pounds" is almost 4 million dollars. That's more than the UN Development Program (UNDP) will spend in 2012 on environmental mitigation in Haiti (the country now labeled as the world's most vulnerable to climate change). It's more than they plan to spend on disaster risk reduction, when we've just been informed that we're at risk of 'powerful' earthquakes. It's a fifth of what UNDP spends annually in Haiti on their joint "Rule of Law" program with MINUSTAH (the controversial military occupation that's been in Haiti with full legal impunity since 2004), while the justice system seems about to let "Baby Doc" Duvalier get away with murder, torture and other human rights abuses carried out during his brutal 15-year dictatorship. 

If they would just give us the money for our "economy growth and personal development"... well, imagine the possibilities! Of course, we would have to spend 20% to develop a part of our community. Taco stand in Nerettes, anyone?


Dear Sir/Madam,

This is to notify you that you have been chosen through your e-mail address By the Board of trustees of the above International (Charity & Human Developmental) Organization, as one of the final recipients to receive a Cash Grant/Donation for your economy growth and personal development for the year 2012. Based on the random selection of internet Web Pages and millions of Supermarket cash invoices worldwide your e-mail was selected among the beneficiaries to receive the sum of  £2,500,000.00 (Two Million and Five Hundred Thousand British Pounds) as developmental aid from the UN Foundation. Beneficiaries have been chosen from every UN Member Nation from all continents. You are required to expeditiously Contact the Executive Secretary of The Donations Department with the details below for documentation and processing of the release of your cash aid, Please Endeavour to quote your Qualification numbers (UNF/FBF-816-1119 G-900-94) in all discussions.

Forward this email to the Executive Secretary:
Mr Richard Daniels


Note that at least 20% of the awarded Grant funds should be used by you (The Recipient) to develop a part of your community.

On behalf of the Board,
Yours faithfully,
UNDP- Mr. Burr Carrie

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Boozy Weekend

Though we're usually beer drinkers, this past weekend involved an unusual amount of hooch. On Saturday, following a hike in Kenscoff with the lovely SF,
(that's water in Ben's canteen, I swear)
and the foraging of nasturtium seeds for pickling,
we warmed and numbed ourselves for the long taptap ride down with 20-gourdes worth of pineapple-infused kleren (100 proof sugarcane liquor that will make your eyeballs pop out).
Our options included kleren infused with sour barbados cherries, pineapple, sitwon (key lime), saffron, the aphrodesiac bwa cochon (literally pig wood, or in English science-speak, Sterculiaceae), and a bitter herb that I can pronounce but not spell. 
On Sunday, we used the hose from a discarded water filter to siphon 5-gallons of ginger honey mead into smaller containers for a second round of fermenting.
Turns out, this process is considerable when it involves scouring the city for affordable demijon (or, carboys, the kind of big bottles with narrow necks pictured on Ben's knee). They're usually sold on the street as antiques. Finally, we found a friendly, half-drunk kleren vendor who sold us empty bottles (with their original labels) for a reasonable price. "Antiques," indeed! That, my friends, is a label for worm medicine:
After being carefully scrubbed and siphoned, our bottles of mead are happily bubbling away. (We didn't find enough carboys, so we used some wine bottles, too. We also didn't have enough airlocks. Instead, we stuck balloons over the mouth of each bottle, to slowly let out air without contamination. It looks like a party on our kitchen counter.)


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