Haitian blogs

Three Years - You are not stagnant but the advice remains the same ...

Livesay Haiti -

Graham,On the occasion of your THIRD Birthday, I am sending you this letter I wrote to you before I knew your face, once again.To our first grandson, some thoughts on lifeDear little man,

It hardly seems possible that in four weeks you will be with us on the outside. Enjoy these last weeks in your mommy because being carried around in there is by far the easiest of all the options in life. Your old Mojo (that is me) sometimes wishes she could get back in the dark womb and hide in the warmth and peace for a bit.  (Don't be concerned about me, I won't actually attempt to do it.) I am not trying to scare you, I am just saying - enjoy it. That right there, inside your Momma, is the high life.

There are so many things I want to share with you.  Things about your Mom, things about this family, things about my mistakes and things I hope you can learn without pain. Learning is hard, it takes so many tries. To me it seems that most of us need to learn the hard way. We learn slowly, we fall, we stand up, repeat, repeat. 

I wish I could tell you ALL things that would help it be easier on you. More than that, I wish you could listen and truly hear me. The thing is, I know that you cannot.  I know you cannot  because I did not, and your Mommy did not. Because that is not a thing. We seem to be a gene pool that wants to get knocked around a bit as we learn.

Having said that I know I cannot save you from all pain or from making mistakes, there are just a few things I decided you might like to know before you come out into this boisterous and chaotic world. 

Love wins. Every time.

Now you might be saying to your baby self, what does that even mean, Mojo?  That is so abstract! You sound like a hippie or something. Let me tell you: As you grow up, you will find that sometimes things hurt you or make you angry.  Someone might misunderstand you, say something hurtful, or even intentionally lash out at you. When things hurt, when we hurt, we always want to curl up, withdraw, or strike back. That is just how we are, this gene pool.  

Your old Mojo wants to tell you that love never returns void.  I know you don't know the word void yet.  Let me try again.  When you are hurt, if you can try super hard to love yourself and love others around you, even the person that was mean to you, that will never be something you live to regret. A regret is something you later wish you could change.  The things I wish I could change in my life are all things that I did when I was very hurt or angry. We read that a soft answer turns away wrath, but a grievous word stirs up anger. That just means, when someone hurts you, you return their insult with a loving response. This sounds simple, but it is so crazy hard. It might take you fifty or sixty years to get it right.  I  know people that died very old that never quite got how important kind words and love are. Your Mommy and Daddy are going to teach you about love, watch them closely. I think they both know a lot about love.

Forgivness is so hard, but it is a part of love.  

This one is gonna be rough, there is just no way around it. I am sorry to hit you with so much before you even get here.  I just want it to be easy for you later, that's all. There is a man named MLK Jr. that I hope you will learn about that said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” That is a way of saying, forgiveness has to be worked at non-stop. People will hurt you, if you are able you will respond with love, but you will still have the work of forgiving ahead of you. If you try to continue to love someone you have not forgiven, you will get a big old smack of reality right between your blue eyes, it is basically impossible. Forgiveness just means that you don't allow that hurt to continue to cause you pain. You turn it over and cross it off, and it no longer acts as a weight you must carry.

One of my very favorite Dutch guys, his name is Henri, said it his way, “Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.”  

To simplify for you, Henri was trying to say this: Forgiveness is really just love, and you already know how important love is.

Nothing is ever as bad as it seems.

This is just something you figure out when you reach 40 or so.  I am telling you early, to save you the trouble.  Sometimes it feels like the pain won't go away, or the embarassment or shame is just insanely HUGE and earth-shattering.  It does feel that way in the moment, your Mojo knows it so well. This might sound silly to you, but just give it a few weeks.  After a few weeks things seem smaller. You are just gonna have to trust me on this one until you get a chance to see for yourself.

~           ~            ~

Now that I have shared those things, I feel like I should say one more thing to you.  Someday, when you are quite a bit older, you will learn about my reaction to the news of you.  You might hear that I cried and felt overwhelmed for your Mommy and Daddy.  You might learn that for a few weeks we had a bit of hard time. Then, like number three says, we woke up a few weeks later and realized that things were going to be okay. We figured out that it was not so big or impossible. Not only did we realize that things were going to be okay, we got quite excited about the prospect (do you know that word? it means the coming possibility) of meeting you, holding you, smelling you, and getting to know you. 

More than 30 weeks have passed since I learned about your little beating heart inside your mommy. In those weeks I have prayed for you, loved you more each day, and watched your Mommy's tummy grow and begin moving like crazy. (She sends me videos. What is it you are doing in there, exactly? Nobody expects you to produce work until you are a bit older, take a load off and get some rest while you can, because it is not nearly so calm and dark out here.) When I meet you in just a few short weeks I know I will be in awe of you. I hope you will show me some of those fancy moves once there is more space to perform. 

I need you to know, the time it took for me to get totally excited, was really just fear.  I was afraid for your Mom and Dad and for you, too. It was unnecessary fear, I know that now.  I guess you get your first chance at forgiving (which we already know is love), right away. Forgive me for being fearful about you, please.  

I am so excited to meet you. I think we are going to like each other a lot. 

all my heart,


What a Vas deferens you made in our life (a birth story)

Livesay Haiti -

Sometimes life is incredibly strange.  
Let it be said on this the tenth anniversary of the birth of Lydia Beth Livesay:  There is nothing stranger than stopping in Muskogee, Oklahoma.  At least not for our family.

October 4, 2007 - Lucky No. 7 joined us

Let me take you back to the beginning.
In 2003 we were living in Zimmerman, MN. At the time Troy worked for the local phone company and I was mainly home with newly adopted Isaac and Hope.  I worked a part time job managing a banquet facility a few evenings and weekends a month.  We were waiting on the birth of Noah Livesay, our surprise after-adoption pregnancy.
In March of 2004 Noah made a huge deal of arriving while also simultaneously trying to die. His one minute APGAR score was a 1.  If you have ever read this weblog before, you obviously know he made it and came home to Zimmerman to make us a five kid family.   
Troy was 28 years old. I was 31 years old.
Troy **might** have had a total and complete hysterical meltdown over being the father of and/or responsible party for five children. I am not coming right out and SAYING he did. I am just saying it is POSSIBLE that he did. By "possible" I mean "probable" and by "probable" I mean, yes, 100% for sure. He was disoriented and freaking out about the financial responsibly and the cost of diapers alone for three children all in diapers at once. He had a panic filled month of March to May 2004.
In June of 2004 Troy turned 29 years old. That month, when Noah was only three months old Troy announced that he was going to get a vasectomy.  At first it seemed logical to me. Yes, of course, five kids is a lot.  Do it.  Never mind your age or our relative youthfulness. We cannot sustain this current circus so why risk more clowns on the tour. Chop that shit up and get us out of here alive, that’s all I ask.
Around the time that he went for his consult, I started to feel like it was not the right choice. I attempted to put the brakes on but Troy had long since advanced into the ‘no turning back’ zone and he wasn't willing to hear me out. We had three or four tense conversations about it and he was all, "Woman. You're not stopping me." 
I ended up refusing to help him get to or from his appointment on the day of the procedure because I wasn’t at all on board and had failed at talking him into at least waiting a few months to think it over more seriously. 
I have no idea who brought him or picked him up, but it wasn’t me.  I was wicked ticked off and I’m not sure I even brought him frozen peas in the days after.  I’m not big on sympathy for any variety of man physical pain anyway, but this was down right cold-heartedness on my part.
A few days after his procedure we had to drive to a Porter Family Reunion in Branson, MO and I was not nice about his discomfort on that ride either. 
Life was happening at a furious pace in those days. I was home with two two-year olds and a newborn and training for my first half marathon and getting a high-school-aged kid to and from school and swim practice as well as delivering the 4th grader to another school each day. Even though I only worked part time at night or on weekends, it felt like chaos to both Troy and I. Keeping all the balls (DOH!) in the air in those days was pretty mind-numbing.  With all that crazy-making the tiff about the severed vas deferens sort of faded into the background by the end of 2004.
Around June 2005, a year after Troy’s procedure, I started to be annoyed again and thought all sorts of super holy and self-righteous things.  I actually said, “You did this and we never even prayed about it.  What if we were not done with our family yet?!?”  Troy listened at that point but he was like,  “Yeah, well. What is done is done. So I guess we need to let that go.” 
I agreed with him but in the way that you agree when you don’t agree. Within moments I marched to the computer to use internet explorer and see what a vasectomy reversal might cost or entail.
I found all sorts of wonky info, as one can often do when searching the world wide web. Mostly I found that we would need many thousand dollars to do it.
I put my name into some group about the blessed arrows - they firmly believed that birth control was always wrong and that limiting your fertility was like flipping God the bird. I did not think that was the case and I have no issues with birth control or limiting the size of your family by preventing pregnancy.  I only had an issue with Troy and his decision and wanted to know what could be done if we desired to un-do the 2004 decision.
That research all happened in the same months of 2005 that we had started to strongly consider a move to Haiti.  Isaac and Hope were both close to turning four and Noah was 16 months old.  We had the big idea that we might want to move to Haiti, we just didn’t know when. We began to actively research what jobs were available in Haiti and we met John and Beth McHoul online that summer. We ended up visiting them in September of 2005 on a visit to see the place we planned to move.
Things back in those early years of our marriage were always a little bit out of control. Whatever took normal people a few years to do, took us seventeen minutes.  We bought a house fast, we bought new vehicles fast, we bought a boat (story of that purchase is excellent Troy mockery, saving for another day), we went from two manageable-aged children to five not-at-all-manageable kids in a matter of 18 months. We added a huge addition to the house. 
In October 2005 we started planning to move to Haiti and within 58 days the funds we needed in order to move had been raised and our house had been rented for 18 months.  Nothing was slow to happen. If people had not seen us in a year they were guaranteed to look at us like, “What is wrong with you people?”  It was much.  I see that now in hindsight.  
In December of 2005 we were having Christmas in South Texas with my family.  It was a big emotional deal and everybody was all stuck in feelings and drama because our tickets to move to Haiti were purchased for mid January.  I was sitting outside in the backyard of my parents house when an email came in telling me that we had been selected by the Blessed Arrow group to receive a free vasectomy reversal. You get those emails too I'm sure.
The details were such that we could only do it if it worked to go to the Doctor offering it at his location in Oklahoma. It would only work in early January 2006. 
I had never told Troy about the weird groups I had found. I never told him I put my name (his name) on any list for a reversal. I had only told him that we couldn’t financially swing the reversal.
I got Troy away from the family Christmas chaos and asked him if he wanted to have his sitch glued back together if it was free.  Always the good sport he was like, “Wait wait wait now. WHAT are you asking me?”
We had to drive back to Minnesota to finish up details with our house renter and pack our belongings.  We had already planned the road trip in early January to get home from the Christmas in South TX by vehicle.  The mapped route did not include a stop in Muskogee, OK but we decided it could in fact be changed.  Muskogee is supposed to be BEAUTIFUL in early January.  Everyone knows that.  PERFECT, RIGHT??
On a crisp day in January of 2006, Troy laid on a table in a outdated little strip mall in Muskogee, OK and Dr. W. showed me my husband's vas deferens and then proceeded to glue it back together.  Appalachian bluegrass music played in the background. Because of course it did. After the procedure Troy was in much pain and he wailed about how bad his boys hurt.  I put Brittany and 22 month old Noah on an airplane to Minnesota to make room in the Suburban for Troy’s giant swollen nuts to be as comfortable as possible.  I drove the remaining many hours back to the Twin Cities while attempting to be nicer than ever about man’s physical pain.
Troy moved to Haiti ahead of the kids and I.  He arrived in Haiti with drainage tubes coming out of his balls.  It’s pretty memorable really.
It was not until we had lived in Haiti a year (February ’07) that we learned that we were expecting a baby. 
Troy had gone to buy lumber and I was at home with the six kids. We had just taken Phoebe into our home only six weeks prior and we were already freaked out and getting used to having a baby again. 
Phoebe had a rough first ten weeks of her life prior to coming to us. She was neglected in those weeks. There was a lot of work to be done helping her bond with us all. While Troy was out buying lumber I thought, “Why do I feel weird?”  The possible answers were limitless really.  I decided to rule out pregnancy as one of the reasons for my odd floaty sensations.  It took three pregnancy tests in a row that were positive for me to sit with my hands shaking on the bathroom floor and say to myself, “Self. You are the one that went to Muskogee and just couldn’t pass up free. You did this.  Also, pull yourself together!”
When Troy got home I said, “We need to talk.”  We marched up some stairs on the back of the property where we lived and to this big goofy rock that they called the “prayer rock”.  At the prayer rock I told Troy he better pray for a good sense of humor.  
I handed Troy an envelope with my positive tests.  He looked at it and started laughing hysterically.  He laughed until he was basically sobbing. Tears ran down his face and he rolled around like a mad-man while he laughed and cried.
He was back to freaking out again  -  only this time he was 31 instead of 28 and it was about suddenly going from 5 to 7 kids in a few short weeks. Everyone in our close circle just shook their heads and said, “What the heck did they think would happen?” and “Idiots. Both of them.” 
On October 4, 2017 our little Vasectomy reversal baby is turning TEN YEARS OLD.
I thought it was time you all knew that it is all because of a stop in Muskogee, Oklahoma - It made a vast (Vas) difference (deferens) in our lives.  
The deferens is named Lydia Beth.

Happy Birthday Lou-Lou. Daddy says you are more than worth ALL that oddness and physical pain he endured and we have never been offered a free surgery prior to OR since this one so we think maybe you are supposed to be here with us.  We are forever grateful for your life and the gift of you, #7. 

Fanmi Lavalas Calls for General Strike

HaitiAnalysis -

FANMI LAVALAS Press Release - September 30, 2017

September 30, 1991, September 30, 2017, 26 years have passed but the Haitian people have not forgotten and continue to show their attachment to President Aristide.

Fanmi Lavalas congratulates the hundreds of thousands of people who took to the streets in protest on September 30, 2017, to say no to political crime, economic crime, social crime that the coup d'etat government of the accused money-launderer are committing against the population. 26 years later, people are determined more than ever to confront the repressive forces that are exploiting and brutalizing them. From St. Jean Bosco church, through La Saline, St. Martin, Belair, up to Petionville, and Champs-de-Mars, demonstrators repeatedly demanded the resignation of the accused money-launderer.

Today again, the police are out to assassinate demonstrators, shooting directly at people, using tear gas and liquid skin irritant against protestors. Many were illegally arrested. The Fanmi Lavalas Political Organization condemns the violence and savage repression conducted by the police against demonstrators and demands the immediate liberation of all the people who were arrested.

The struggle will not stop. Fanmi Lavalas supports the call for a general strike on Monday October 2nd and Tuesday October 3rd. The system must be overturned. General mobilization everywhere in the country in whatever form. We Will Not Obey.

Alone we are weak,
Together we are strong,
All together we are Lavalas.

Executive Committee of Fanmi Lavalas      

Breaking News!! General Strike in Haiti

HaitiAnalysis -

Videos from Twitter Feed of: Haiti Information Project

Protests in Port-au-Prince
More scenes from yesterday's anti-govt protests in #Haiti. A nationwide general strike has been called for Sept.18. pic.twitter.com/uKYCZK0Pxl— HaitiInfoProject (@HaitiInfoProj) September 14, 2017Anti-govt protests in PAP, #Haiti today demanding resignation of president @moisejovenel pic.twitter.com/aEKIZGMEn8— HaitiInfoProject (@HaitiInfoProj) September 20, 2017
Anti-govt protests in PAP, #Haiti today as reported by Wendy Lerisse. pic.twitter.com/9qTREBqQ81— HaitiInfoProject (@HaitiInfoProj) September 20, 2017
Haiti: A transport strike over tax increases on fuel, alcohol and cigarettes has shut down most of Haiti. 19-09-2017 pic.twitter.com/587sXoIeIZ— Rowan Van Dijk (@Lastkombo) September 19, 2017
School kids cheer 4 anti-govt protests yesterday in #Haiti. A nationwide general strike has been called 4 Sept. 18. pic.twitter.com/oo48yxovdr— HaitiInfoProject (@HaitiInfoProj) September 15, 2017 Protests in Les Cayes
Scene from today's anti-govt protests in Okay, #Haiti during first day of nationwide general strike against corruption pic.twitter.com/iP0aXvPHjc— HaitiInfoProject (@HaitiInfoProj) September 18, 2017 Protests in Hinche
#Haiti: More anti-govt protests in Hinche today amid reports of attacks by #PHTK goons. pic.twitter.com/zIXDP37kGJ— HaitiInfoProject (@HaitiInfoProj) September 20, 2017 Rightwing PHTK supporters murder protester
#Haiti Breaking: One anti-govt protester dead after #PHTK supporters open fire on peaceful march. pic.twitter.com/XVG3LEjvAX— HaitiInfoProject (@HaitiInfoProj) September 20, 2017 Protest in Gonaives 

           See article here

Reflections From The Red Zone (Peaceful Demonstrations)

HaitiAnalysis -

By: Richard Morse 

The concept of a peaceful demonstration is something that I'm having a hard
time wrapping my brain around.

In order to get thousands of protesting people in the streets, something
certainly must have gone wrong. I would suppose unfair economic, social or
political practices are usually the main cause of protests.

My question; is an unfair economic policy akin to violence?

When the U.S. started dumping rice and sugar into the Haitian economy, was
it economic warfare? Violence? Were the small Haitian farmers represented
at the import/export meetings or were the meetings simply attended by
Haiti's economic elites and political carpetbaggers who would be made to
benefit from the new policy?

The Haitian American Sugar Corporation has been replaced with tanks of
petroleum reserves. Do we know how that deal was made? Is that violence? Is
it compensation? How many farmers were positively affected by sudden
transition to importing sugar? Are the farmers receiving compensation?
Someone obviously is.

When the import policy was conjured up, it was either done at a meeting
behind closed doors or an intimate restaurant in a setting that could be
only be described as non violent. Unfortunately the sectors of the
population that are violently assaulted by the policies can only have a
very non intimate public reaction in the Streets. The people negatively
affected by policy can't simply have a quiet meeting in an intimate
restaurant and undo the policy.

They have to react very publicly.

What happened with the PetroCaribe funds? Who's going to find out? Who's
going to pay? Is this violence? What happened to the Earthquake funds? Is
the disappearance of these funds a violent act? War? A billionaire gets a
new hotel but so many of the displaced earthquake victims are living in
below poverty conditions. Is this violence?

So what happens when people take to the streets for non violent
Can five thousand people marching up a street be a non violent act? Is it a
threat? Is it self defense? Five thousand people willing to risk everything
in order to make a point, or make a change, is that violence? They're
willing to risk getting shot, tear gassed, beaten, arrested, blamed for
violence.. Aren't there better things to do during the course of the day
than go demonstrating? Why are they out there?

What happens when police try to disperse the crowd of 5 thousand with tear
gas and rubber bullets? Is that violence? Are we at war? Is Haiti at war
with itself? When did the war start?
Did the war begin when some people had a meeting and decided to dump
imports, when the parliament gave itself a raise, or did the war start when
the 5 thousand people took to the streets?

How about infiltrators? What happens when a peaceful demonstration is
infiltrated by opposition forces in an attempt to discredit the movement?
Who is to be held responsible? Who's responsible if a demonstrator gets
killed? What if an infiltrator gets killed, then who's responsible? Who
pays the price?

How about night time retribution that never makes it to the media. Men in
black masks armed with guns and machetes trying to seek out and destroy a
popular movement? Is the silent media escalating the violence by
selectively choosing what's news and what isn't news. How much of this is
violence, how much is non violence?

After years of
*unfair economic policies,
*lack of electoral justice,
*disappearing relief funds,
*forcing Haitian farmers to abandon their land and livelihoods in order to
become non land owning potential factory employees at unfair wages..

....After years of abuse, the Haitian people are once again taking to the
streets in 2017. The poorest people in the Hemisphere, under the grips of a
monopolistic economic elite that refuses to consider the needs of anyone
but themselves, are trying their best to rectify a bad situation. Who's
side is Washington on? Who's side are you on?

There is no such thing as non violence.
There are levels of violence, stages of violence, reactions to
violence..but non violence? Not possible.

Justice? Perhaps that's possible. We don't know yet.

Alas, just being a musician means I no longer have to worry about these
Our new album RAM7 has been recorded, the art work is nearly done.

Cordially and non violently yours,

Haiti, Irma, Climate Change, and Priorities

Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch -

At least one person died, one remains missing, and more than a dozen were injured by the passage of Hurricane Irma off the northern coast of Haiti last week. As of September 11, nearly 6,500 Haitians remain in emergency shelters, according to the United Nations. Preliminary figures suggest that flooding impacted 22 communes, completely destroying 466 houses and badly damaging more than 2,000 more. As veteran AFP correspondent Amelie Baron noted on Twitter, “These are the damages of a hurricane passing hundreds of kilometers away from [the] Haitian coast.”

Compared to some other Caribbean nations, the damage to Haiti’s infrastructure pales. But as Jacqueline Charles reported for the Miami Herald, looks can be deceiving:

Though Haiti was spared a direct hit from Irma and the fallout is nowhere near the magnitude of Matthew’s 546 dead and $2.8 billion in washed-out roads, collapsed bridges and destroyed crops, the frustration and fears for some in its path are no less.

“We didn’t have people who died, but homes and farms were destroyed,” Esperance said. “Just because you don’t see a lot of damages, it doesn’t mean that we haven’t been left deeper in misery.”

Charles reported that “entire banana fields lay in ruin” across Haiti’s northern coast. “It took everything,” one local farmer said. As Charles points out, even before Hurricane Irma, Haiti was facing an extreme situation of food insecurity. Last October Hurricane Matthew swept across the southern peninsula, devastating crops and livelihoods and leaving some 800,000 in need of emergency food assistance. Even before Matthew, the World Food Program reported that Haiti was facing its worst food security situation in 15 years. Charles writes:

As recently as February, the food insecurity unit classified the northwest as being in an economic and food security crisis. As a result, [Action Against Hunger’s country director Mathieu] Nabot said, the focus has to be not just on the emergency response but on supporting farmers over the long term, to help strengthen their economic security and ability to cope with shocks.

Unfortunately, it appears as though little donor ― or Haitian government ― money went to supporting long-term agricultural development after last year’s storm. Less than 50 percent of the UN’s $56 million appeal for food security and agricultural support was ever provided by donors ― and the overwhelming majority of that was short-term emergency food assistance.

Of course, it’s not just the donor community that must do more to support Haitian farmers. Elected on a platform of agrarian development, Haitian president Jovenel Moïse has done little to address the problem since taking office nine months ago. Rumors of the commercial demise of Moïse’s banana plantation, Agritrans ― which was used to bolster his agricultural credentials during election season ― hasn’t helped, nor did putting scarce resources into a caravan across the country. And last week, just hours before Irma’s outer bands began lashing the coast, the Haitian parliament began discussion on this year’s budget. Peasant organizations held a press conference to denounce the fact that just 6.9 percent is allocated to agriculture.

With the increasing likelihood of extreme weather events ― and Haiti’s obvious vulnerability to such events ― many began advocating for donors and the government to take seriously the threat of climate change. According to the 2017 Climate Change Vulnerability Index, Haiti is the third-most vulnerable country in the world. As Mark Schuller and Jessica Hsu note, it’s time to start talking about climate justice ― not just climate change:

Climate justice explicitly confronts basic inequalities: the world’s biggest polluters are not those directly affected by climate change. The big polluters are also the biggest “winners” in this economic system. It is no coincidence that higher climate vulnerability communities are largely communities of color and disenfranchised communities within the Global South.

To achieve climate justice requires making sure that communities most directly affected are directly involved in discussions, as well as solutions.

Like in many places in the world, peasant communities in Haiti have waged an ongoing struggle against corporate/private interests which seek to maintain control over natural resources, exploit cheap labor, and increase profit. These peasant communities are on the frontlines which may offer approaches to cool the planet, rather than the proposed solutions that bar those most affected by climate change from the discussions.           

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