Port au Prince, Haiti Day 2, Trip 5

The night I arrived, I dreamed the earth was moving–I kept waking up from a dream that felt like I was trapped in a square space that could not stop shaking. The night before I arrived I dreamed of many women dressed in white, wearing white moshwa, preparing for ceremony. Haiti feels different. I’ll write bluntly: there are way too many foreigners here. Once again, Haiti is being parceled out to various interests—some for profit; some not for profit, and I feel the trampling of sacred ground by 1000′s of hooves. Greedy hooves. Local friends are losing jobs to foreigners–”experts”, arriving to Haiti for the first time. Doctors closing practices and leaving the country because there is too much free medical care here. Reports that things are not improving, and the inevitable “WHY–there is so much money pouring in here?” Why? Because many of the people here weren’t invited, have …

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Port au Prince, Haiti Day 12, Trip 4

I have just returned home and went to my favorite yoga class today. Our luminous teacher shared some words she woke up with, following a night of rich dreams: HOPE IS A HERO She went on to describe how all the tulips planted at her mesa-top home had survived a long day and night of fierce winds. Perhaps, she speculated, the petals gather in and relax–versus cling—and that is how they hold on. The image reminds me of Haiti — of her people. Of the communities still gathered to support one another to live outside, to live through the rains, to cook, sleep, protect their children. Kampe–stand up—Kenbe—hang on. Hang on with strength and grace. I remembered three more stories I’ll share in closing this trips blog. One of the woman I counseled on Wednesday described herself as having accepted the situation. After a month or so of fear, sadness, …

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Port au Prince, Haiti Day 10, Trip 4

Today is my last day on this trip. I’ll have a little more rest between this trip and the next. Its time. I have spent the past 2 days working with groups of vibrant young people who work with a local cell phone company. Most of my work is large group informational sessions on stress, trauma, support, coping etc. I am also providing “ti konsays” (little consults) on an as needed basis. I don’t have as much time with this group, so I am limited to consults vs. more therapeutic work. One young man, in his introduction, began to describe his current “symptoms” (shaking, pervasive fear, high stress levels, distraction) and said he had frozen when the earthquake happened. He said this before I talked about the nervous system, fight-flight freeze reactions,etc. He was one of the first to wait and meet with me. As he described his “symptoms” it …

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Port au Prince, Haiti Day 8, Trip 4

Last night, we danced. The place where I danced at least 2 times a week when I lived here in 2004 resumed classes for the first time since the earthquake. We had a gathering last week–a free master class for the community to gather and dance–and last night a new season of dance began. Several weeks ago I was listening to ManShoun, my Spiritual Mother, while contemplating the future of Haiti. She made something exceedingly clear to me: Listen. My instructions were to make sure there are as many drums beating, feet and bodies dancing, as possible between July 15 and August 15 (August 14 is Fet Bwa Kayman). We are to listen for the very first drum beat–the beat of Haiti’s true heart. I understand this instruction from the perspective of fractal mathematics: Find the source, the original variable, that initiated the birth of Ayiti. And play-beat-dance-sing-move-breathe-live this source-of-rhythm …

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Port au Prince, Haiti Day 6, Trip 4

I am still blogging a lot less, because days are very very full. In the past 24 hours there have been 3 aftershocks that get everyone’s attention–today I was literally jumping down from a stair into our HR office and next thing I knew, everyone was outside, panicking and making phone calls. I hadn’t felt it because I was “airborne”, but it shook people up. A lot. Last night, a 4.6 woke me up–I felt as if someone had literally slammed the bed up and down. People are really wearing thin. Today even the “toughest” of people said I DON’T WANT TO FEEL ANOTHER SHAKE. Our staff support team circulated, making sure everyone was ok. Giving people a chance to breathe, shake it off, sound, talk–whatever. Rumors of ANOTHER abound and so, despite the widely shared fact that each “sekus” represents a release in the earth’s tension, its impossible for …

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Port au Prince, Haiti Day 2, Trip 4

I arrived very early yesterday and am once again, am struck by the flood of “etranje” who have invaded Ayiti. Between these trips, I have found myself feeling great concern that Ayiti will be trampled underneath the well-meaning–and, sometimes not-so-well-meaning–inundation of outsiders who position themselves as experts, despite many (most, perhaps) having no previous experience in this complex cultural and cosmological context. I almost wish someone would stand at the airport with a sign that says: THANKS–BUT NO THANKS. PLEASE GO HOME UNLESS WE INVITED YOU. There is no monitoring or control process here; I recall Rwanda where all NGO’s wanting to operate went through a vigorous approval by the then controlling RFP; or Kosovo, where after several significant blunders by NGO’s, stricter entry and control measures were established. Ayiti needs this. Apparently much of the control has been signed over. If this is true, it will simply mean another …

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Port au Prince, Haiti Day 15, Trip 3

In the early part of this week I resumed staff support/counseling sessions for another NGO who contacted me in January, and who have waited since then for my availability. As I begin to write, I wonder who I am writing for. I believe I initially began this blog so thatanyone interested might receive some first hand information from Haiti. Later, it seemed to me that I wrote for myself; to share the images, stories, words I cannot carry alone. Now, I believe I blog for every Haitian who has courageously opened up and shared with me—-and for those ho might still be waiting for someone to listen. These stories take up residence in our bodies. Unshared, they can begin to form and shape us from their hiding place inside. No-one should bear the weight or shape of these stories alone. One man, whose story I will share later, only wanted …

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Port au Prince, Haiti Day 12, Trip 3

This seems like a much busier trip, its difficult to find time to write. Things in Haiti are very accelerated. Similar to Aceh after the tsunami, the second wave has arrived—here they are referred to as the second earthquake, or the invasion of the “extra terrestrials.” There are so many ekstranje (foreigners), or blan (“white”) as we are called. As someone who is not Haitian, but is considered local, I am privy to the sometimes humorous and sometimes distressed musings and rantings of my Haitian brothers and sisters. We all hoped that the inpouring of aid would somehow be tailored to the Haitian people, and context. This does not appear to be happening. Its actually mostly the NGO’s that people both appreciate and express concern about. There are many, many new NGO’s operating here, without any prior history, and apparently, without much interest in taking the time to listen. As …

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Port au Prince, Haiti Day 10, Trip 3

Yesterday we worked with our new staff support team, who gave their first “wellness presentation”. They were marvelous. I was ecstatic all day. After — and along with — so much destruction and suffering, the pure pleasure of training, teaching, sharing, inspiring a team is absolute joy. People ask me all the time why, or how, I do this work. This is why. I am certain our team will serve our program brilliantly. And as one of the first comprehensive staff support teams/programs to be implemented after the earthquake, they will serve Haiti by inspiring the same types of support at other organizations. The feedback from training participants — especially other NGO’s — was that the training was original, and well contextualized for Haiti. Everyone felt ready to begin this process; essentially, to develop programs to take care of their local staff — which means taking care of the Haitian …

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Port au Prince, Haiti Day 8, Trip 3

We’ve been in training all week–moving around much more than before. A colleague and I are training a staff support team to provide full time and long term support to the local employees who are affected by the earthquake. Affected is such an understatement: Today we drove into work a little late, and passed through the road we are actually not supposed to drive on. Everything is collapsed; some of the buildings hang precariously towards the road. A big enough tremor or a hard enough rain and they could crush traffic moving alongside or under them. It will be years before this area is clear—-so far, only locals with small tools are seen working through the massive piles of rubble. A crowd was beginning to gather, and peer down the hill. We were late for work so we continued on the remaining five minutes, thinking nothing of it. Thirty minutes …

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