Monday, October 29, 2012

Lots of Avocados

...that we didn't have to pick ourselves, because the storm did it for us!

In all seriousness, though, it's bad news 'round here. The storm had a devastating impact on displacement camps. See: Reflections on Hurricane Sandy. And on agriculture. See: Storm damages crops in Haiti, fueling food price woes. As to be expected, four consecutive days of rain has also already caused a spike in the number of reported cholera cases.

Friday, October 26, 2012

"Sandy, can't you see, [we're] in misery..."

When John Travolta sang about Sandy, he was stranded at the drive-in. I'm stranded at home without Ben, who is in NYC, but with extra water, propane, gas for our little generator and the company of Luna and a houseguest. I am not, like so many, in a displacement camp, or on a precarious hillside, or living on the bank of a river.

Port-au-Prince is wet and cold. It's been raining for more than 72 hours, and forecasted to continue to rain for at least the next day. Schools, businesses and the embassy are closed. Many towns and villages in Haiti's south are flooded, as are low-laying parts of Port-au-Prince. Sandy has caused landslides, bridges to wash out, and power outages. Rivers are surging their banks. Homes have collapsed. Fields of crops have been wiped out. So far, 16 people have lost their lives.

I know it's frivolous to compare this storm to the 1978 soundtrack of a teen's breaking heart, but we are all sitting and wondering why-y-y the rain won't stop.

This is the River Grise in Croix-des-Missions, on the northern edge of Port-au-Prince:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

poverty problem

It's Saturday morning, and here are five calls we've received so far today:
  • A community organizer that lives - or lived - in a displacement camp. Last night, in the middle of the night, the landowner sent guys in to light the camp on fire and forcibly evict all of the families living there. There was shooting (though no-one was injured) and violence. They don't know where to go or what to do.
  • A young photographer friend who recently published photos of a couple gang murders in his (rough) neighborhood. Since then, the gang has been after him. Last month they tried to grab him and ended up shooting him in the hip. Yesterday, they kidnapped his little brother. 
  • My friend whose daughter has undiagnosable mental issues and other teenage daughter just had a baby. The friend's blood pressure is so high that she has fainted several times in the past few days and hasn't been able to see a doctor.
  • Another friend who has been homeless since the earthquake, and is afraid that she is about to lose the space that that she and her family have been renting for their tarp shelter. 
  • The man who sells toilet paper, candles and crackers across the street needs to borrow money because his business is floundering and he has to pay his kids' school fees.

In Haiti tragedy after tragedy occurs as a lack of infrastructure, security and the basic services (like: affordable healthcare and education, housing, a functional JUSTice system...) that every single human being deserves.

The longer we live here, the more frequently we are called upon in times of crisis. Each and every time, we feel helpless. We can connect friends to human rights organizations or to journalists. Sometimes we can provide transportation or some money or help to fill out an online form. Sometimes all we can do is care. It never feels like enough.

Today is one of those (many) days that I am angry. Unreasonably angry that I - with my lack of resources and practical skills - am called upon again and again to meet needs that I cannot meet.

This is not just a Haiti problem. It is a poverty problem. It is the problem with an unjust economic system wherein so much wealth is concentrated among so few, while the majority on this planet face a life of grinding poverty and hardship. It is a problem of humanitarian organizations spending thousands of dollars on landscaping when people can't see a doctor or pay school fees. It's a global problem. And, like it or not, we're all a part of it somehow.


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