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 no previous relationship to Haiti, have their own agenda or mission or protocol and no time to gather input from local people. I wish someone would stand at the airport with a sign that says: “IF YOU ARE NOT INVITED GO HOME”. And really make people go home. No new NGO’s, no Missionaries on a quest to convert Haitians, no more self proclaimed experts.

The fault is not all in the arriving masses–there is, as I have written before, simply no governance, no body in control of screening, planning short or long term, and balancing the needs, ideas, and activities of people, government, NGO’s, private sector, etc. So the earth trembles under the thundering hooves, scrambling to get their piece.

And, there is a lot of fear.

A recent return to kidnapping for ransom has terrified some members of the international community. The consequences of kidnaping are horrible, and, doesn’t anyone see the irony in the legendary amounts of money “pouring in” (where?), the massive influx of foreigners driving nice cars and driving prices sky-high, and the lack of visible, meaningful change? Why are so many people still camping under torn pieces of tarp when we have been raising the concern about the rains since January 13th?

I say, if you’re that scared, go home. Fear produces fear. We don’t need any more fear here.

A friend of mine has started a brilliant project. For $10.00 a truckload, he buys rubble, dumps and spreads it over his formerly flood-prone land, and large tractors flatten, “squoosh” and distribute it. When they find bodies or body parts, they give them a proper burial. The land is already flat and the smell recedes with time. The flooding risk is almost entirely eliminated now, and they are beginning to move tents to this higher, drier ground. Eventually, they will build houses here.

I cannot ignore the obvious and perhaps cliche image of the Phoenix, rising from the ashes. Homes –eventually a community–built on debris, death, destruction: this is transformation.

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