October 14, 2013John Carroll, MD
Nadege and David–October 4, 2013 (Photo by John Carroll)The other day I visited Haitian friends in Laboule which is a neighborhood
in the mountains up the road from Petionville. Laboule offers very beautiful
views from its cliffs overlooking Port-au-Prince.During my visit, my friends asked me to check the blood pressure
of one of their neighbors, Nadege.Nadege is a 35 year old poor petite woman who lives in a two room
shack with her five kids. She offered me her right arm and held the
manometer in her left hand for me. Her blood pressure was 180/110.
This elevated pressure is not uncommon in Haitian women.
So I put her on some low dose hydrochlorothiazide and told
her I would come back and recheck it in a couple of days.Two days later I rechecked her blood pressure and it was down
to 160/90. Not perfect by any means but better. She was very
grateful for the home visits. It is always embarrassing to me
when poor Haitians express their gratitude especially when I
know that I am not doing near enough for them in the first place.During much of this home visit, Nadege was holding her
solemn one year old son David. He is the youngest of
Nadege’s five children. I asked Nadege if David was
born at home or in a hospital. She replied that he was
born right here in the shack. I asked her if she had a
matron (local midwife) with her for the delivery and she
said no. When I asked if there was ANYONE with her
when she delivered David, she said no. She had delivered
David alone on the floor of the next room.I asked her to show me exactly where she had delivered
David and so she pulled the curtain that led into her bedroom
and we walked a couple of feet from the main room into the
small adjoining room. And at my request Nadege sat down on
the floor with David and showed me where she delivered him.
After David was born Nadege cut the cord herself and gently
placed David on the floor. Nadege said the placenta delivered
on its own but that she “filled a bucket with blood”.When I questioned her further she stated that she had delivered
some of her other four kids at a hospital and others at home with
a matron. Nadege’s answers were all matter of fact with no drama
or self pity. She showed no emotion. Nadege seemed to be just
as indifferent to her circumstances as the rest of the world is to her.Haiti has a very high Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR).MMR is defined as the deaths during pregnancy, child birth,
or within 42 days of delivering a live baby per 100,000 births
for a given year. For the year 2006, Haiti had an MMR of 670
while the United States was 11. Maternal mortality rates are
still underreported and frequently misclassified. For example,
if Nadege had bled to death during her delivery, would her death
have been reported to Haitian officials?Major causes of MMR are severe maternal bleeding, infections,
unsafe abortions, eclampsia, and obstructed labor. Most
maternal deaths around the world are avoidable and should
be classified as stupid deaths.Over 90% of maternal deaths occur in “developing countries”.
The US Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare
Organizations calls maternal mortality a “sentinel event”
and uses it to access the quality of a health care system
in a community or country. And in Haiti the horrendous
MMR accurately reflects its horrendous health care system.Nadege had no prenatal care with David. She would have
had a difficult time traveling over Haiti’s roads to access a
clinic with qualified staff and equipment. Plus she has no
money in the first place to accomplish this. And who
would have taken care of her four children? All of her
neighbors are poor. So she had David at home. Alone.From the magazine America: “The Catechism of the Catholic
Church defines the common good as “the sum total of social
conditions which allow people, either as groups or as
individuals, to reach their fulfillment fully and more easily.”
There are three elements in the common good: respect
for the fundamental and inalienable rights of the human person,
the social well-being and development of society, and the stability
and security of a just order.”And when one ignores the common good we are guilty of
structural sin. Listening to Nadege and being in her home
made it very clear to me how one commits this sin.Pope Francis writes about the culture of indifference that
desensitizes us to the suffering of others. We are able to
look away and not see the Nadeges in our society.
And from America, “Pope Francis’ words about the
“globalization of indifference” echo the poignant
observation of Pope Benedict in his encyclical
“Charity in Truth” (2009): “As society becomes ever
more globalized, it makes us neighbors
but does not make us brothers.”John A. Carroll, MDwww.haitianhearts.org
As we packed our bags Thursday morning for a quick trip to Minnesota, Noah said, "Well, it sure is nice we came to the states for this time so you guys could leave us on the weekends and vacation without us kids."
Uh. Excuse me? Child. You.did.NOT.just.say.that.
I said, "Noah, we have left you three nights total in the last year. Don't play guilt trip games with us." He shrugged and went to play. Later he came to Troy and said, "Dad, I just have a feeling that if you guys go, something very bad is going to happen." Troy didn't respond. Noah repeated the exact statement. Troy said, "Buddy, I don't think so, but if you are serious let's pray about it." It turned out he wasn't too serious, he just really wanted us to stay in TX this weekend.
Lucky for him he has parents that call bs when they hear it. Ta-ta little guy, we are willing to test your theory. See you Monday if we all survive the calamity that you've prophesied.
We needed to come to MN for a couple of business items to be taken care of, it is mainly because we failed to get all the grown-up things done in the first ten days we were in the USA and were in MN in late July. No shocking intel there. One of the things we are taking care of is something we were supposed to do before we ever left for Haiti in 2006.
In a cool turn of events, I found a home-birth midwife that is willing to let me attend home-births with her during the days I am in MN. This is a huge gift because I still need four home-births to complete the requirements and sit for the test. We landed at 8:15p Thursday and by 1am I was at a birth in Minneapolis. It was a huge joy to be present as a little boy named William enter the world around 5am Friday.
The back story on how we hooked up has Godincidence written all over it. It was Friday night, I was sitting in the family room in Waco fretting about how I need to get these homebirths in (the deadline has been extended for me). I was worrying that I'd miss TX opportunities by being in MN for three+ days. I decided to write to a MN midwife that a Facebook friend had made me aware of that day. I wrote to the midwife expecting no response because who allows a total stranger to come to a birth with them? The next day I got a message that said, "Tara, this is interesting as my daughter sent me your blog link last week. She and her husband and their two oldest of six are involved in Haiti. She's been trying to inspire me to come with her. Anyway, why don't you call me and we can talk more about your situation."
There is even a chance I will get to attend another birth in MN before I head back to Tejas. My phone is on and my mid-husband is ready to be my chauffeur day or night.
It's always kind of hard to come to Minnesota. I don't mean like "poor us -poor poor us" variety of hard. I just mean that we do not have the time to connect with most of our friends and family and still do the responsible grown-up stuff like doctor appointments and taking care of things that we said we'd do seven years ago before we left Minnesota. (responsible is a relative word)
This is our apology if you are a friend or relative that is hurt that you didn't know we'd be in MN for a couple days this month. We don't currently have time to speak to each other very much, so please don't assume we purposefully didn't inform you of our trip. We are simply underwhelming at America life and America planning.
Friday night, on three hours sleep, we hit the town with Matt and Tina to go to an NDY (Not Dead Yet) concert in St Paul. Troy got to sing one song with them, (video above) they are super fun to watch and such a talented group of guys. They play a couple times a year in the Twin Cities to raise money for Kot a Kot, a ministry in Haiti.
We are staying at my Mom and Dad's Minnesota house (which is conveniently located under Matt and Tina's house) because it is vacant right now. I currently have a fire in the fireplace and life is good.
Last night before we went to NDY, Troy raided my Dad's closet and found some cowboy boots. We sent my Dad a photo with them on Troy's feet to show him what happens when we are left unattended in his closet. My Dad wrote back to Troy and said:
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Troy, Given my bunion issues I can only wear the gray boots, Matt's feet are too big so if the 2 brown ones fit you they are yours. If you want them I can haul them down to TX in my travels. Let me know. I am pretty sure after you wear the lizard or ostrich out on the town with your "Lady" It will be business time!
Number one, why am I a "Lady" with quotation marks instead of just a lady? Number two, business time would be wonderful given how far away our children are, but sadly my mother and father have a bed made of marshmallows. There is not a softer bed anywhere on earth. When you lie down you sink in so deep that nobody can get to you. Troy's boots couldn't even give him the extra height necessary to reach in and get to me. If you love my Mom and Dad, go ahead and send them Chiropractic gift cards. There is no way their backs are not severely jacked up.
Speaking of my Mom and Dad and their ruined backs, here they are on a one day stop in Waco last Tuesday:
Trip to Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, TX
You better believe that Butterfly has bunions.
I got in the truck. I looked at the door to the house and saw a red faced Lydia standing at the doorway crying. "What's wrong baby?", I asked. "I don't want the girls to leave me. What am I gonna do all day?" I said, "Alright, come with me, we will figure it out." She grabbed purple dress shoes and ran to the truck with her hair a nest of tangles, Nick Nolte style, still sporting her over sized nightgown.
We entered the shop and talked about the girls' desires for their braids. I was careful outside of the context I'm comfortable in. I know what the Haiti-hair-braiding drill looks like and I know what I am supposed to do to prepare. I wasn't so sure today and I could feel my insecurity over all sorts of complex cultural and transracial adoption things rising up. The ladies had anticipated dry hair and weren't thrilled that I came with two wet-haired girls. They turned on the dryer. (repeat insecurity feelings)
I left to run to the bank for the cash required in advance and left my phone number for the ten minutes I'd be away. Lydie kissed her sisters and said, "I'm sorry you will sit for so long." Lydie doesn't let me brush her hair much, and then also not at all. With a ton of begging, she brushes it herself but simply cannot fathom the effort her sisters go to keep their hair looking good.
At the bank, the phone rings. "Hello, can you go buy hair milk for us? Phoebe isn't tolerating this well and is crying hard."
"Absolutely, I can." I replied.
Instructions were given, I headed to the store at the quickest legal speed.
As I walked across the WalMart parking lot prodding Lydia to hurry with her purple shoes, nightgown at 10am, and atrociously tangled up hair, it hit me.
I want to do whatever the right thing is with Hope and Phoebe's hair that I will ignore my gut sometimes and I will bend over backward to be nice, even when someone is being unfair. I will do whatever I can to try to bridge gaps between our cultures and backgrounds and I will work doubly hard to say to any brown woman I meet "I love this little girl and I want you to know that I know hair is important."
Not only do I obsess over being culturally aware of all black-hair-rules (which is pretty complicated because my Haitian friends don't agree with my AA friends) and generally want everyone to like me; more than that, I want them to believe that I won't mess up the brown kids by raising them with my white skin. I am also some sort of freak because it doesn't bother me one bit to take my white kid into WalMart looking like she just went zoomin* on the crystal*. Fact is, I don't care what any of the people think of how the white kid looks. There isn't self-imposed pressure to get it right with her.
I realized today when we pulled the plug on Phoebe's braids and left the shop early that I felt like a failure in ways that didn't make sense based on a small thing like not completing hair braids. (She was in pain and leaving was the right choice.)
I wasn't as upset about the hair braids not working out, but about not being able to understand everything Hope, Isaac, and Phoebe feel and experience in their brown bodies. I was sad that hair is a challenging thing for Phoebe. I was sad that they don't fit perfectly in Haiti because we are their parents and they don't fit perfectly in America because we are their parents. I was upset that even when I try hard to bridge gaps, sometimes the gaps remain. My 18 year old, Paige, likes to remind me that she doesn't fit perfectly anywhere anymore either. Not gonna lie. That.is.not.helpful. Just leave me to my pity party and self loathing, please.
It feels like I am free to be a normal human fallible parent with the kids that are stuck with me because I pushed them out of my body, but with these children we've adopted - I don't allow that same measure of grace. For them I need to find a way to never make a misstep, always understand what they are facing, never allow people to decide things about them based on untruth, and protect them from experiencing pain in their lives.
So, I think at the end of a story like this I am supposed to have some sort of take-away to offer, some sort of devotional pep talk.
I'll have to get back to you.
(*these are drug words. there was much google research involved.)
Hope and Phoebe were the aunties to this precious little person that they did not get to meet.
Their big sister Joanne gave birth right after we left Haiti late this summer. Beth McHoul and crew rushed her to the hospital when she showed up bleeding heavily in late July. Sadly, her baby died in the hospital a few days later.
When I told Hope that the baby had died she was quiet and sad. Hope loves babies and has a strong maternal gene, often mothering her little sisters in ways they don't necessarily appreciate.
Two months have passed and Hope has chosen to pray for her big sister more than a few times. Whenever we say, "Who can we be praying for, guys?", Hope says, "My sisters."
The sisters don't know each other super well because Hope and Phoebe have been with us since they were little babies and the big sisters first language is different than Hope and Phoebe's first language. They are however, family. There are connections that cross language barriers and cultural differences and socioeconomic status and passport countries and oceans.
The little sister cares for the heart of her big sister and carries that concern and love with her wherever she goes.
Bedline & Joanne
mini Bedline and Joanne (Hope and Phoebe)
by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)
On Sep. 30, the 22ndanniversary of the 1991 coup d’état against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, tens of thousands of demonstrators poured into the streets of Port-au-Prince and Cap Haïtien to demand two things: “Martelly must go! MINUSTAH must go!” Knowing this agenda, the day before over 100 delegates representing about two dozen different popular organizations from all of Haiti’s ten departments gathered at the Fany Villa Reception Center in Port-au-Prince to reflect on and debate a proposal on how to form a provisional government which could lead the country to free, fair, and sovereign elections after Martelly’s departure from power, which all of the delegates felt would be coming in the days ahead, one way or another. The proposal was made by the Kòwòdinasyon Desalin or Dessalines Coordination (KOD), a new formation headed by several prominent veterans of Haiti’s democratic struggle over the past 25 years.
“We are sure that the U.S. Embassy has made its plans for what to do after the Haitian people have chased Martelly and [Prime Minister Laurent] Lamothe from power,” said one KOD leader, Yves Pierre-Louis, who is also Haïti Liberté’s Port-au Prince Bureau Chief. “The Haitian people also have to work out their plans so that Washington, Paris, and Ottawa don’t simply impose another puppet on Haiti, as they have done so often over the past two decades.” The essence of KOD’s proposal is the formation of a 13 member Council of State which would lead the country with a judge drawn from Haiti’s Supreme Court. The Council of State’s members would be drawn from key sectors of Haitian society: peasant organizations, popular organizations, political parties, non-aligned parties, women’s organizations, unions, the business sector, vodou, Protestant, and Catholic sectors, students, young people, and civil society. “The Council of State would sit down with the Supreme Court judge to find a democratic formula to name a government,” the KOD proposal reads. “That government would put in place a democratic Provisional Electoral Council which would hold a general election in the country for all the empty posts in a time frame of no more than six months.” KOD proposed that Haiti should accept no international financing for those elections which comes with any strings attached. “We would not refuse” any solidarity offered from foreign nations, “but they cannot meddle in Haiti’s internal affairs,” the proposal reads. “They can give their support, but without any conditions.” In the same vein, the proposal calls on the 9,000 occupation troops of the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH) to leave the country immediately. “The last MINUSTAH soldier should leave the country no later than May 2014, just as [a Haitian] Senate resolution [passed in May] demands,” said the proposal. KOD works with a host of popular organizations which were also instrumental in organizing the Popular Forum such as the National Movement for Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity of Haitians (MOLEGHAF), the Patriotic Force for Respect of the Constitution (FOPARK), the National Popular Platform (PNP), the Movement for the Survival of Haitian Society (MOSSOH), the Organization of Young Progressives of Avenue Pouplar (OJPAP), Organization for National Progress (OPNA), the Great Space Reflection for Social Integration (GERES), the Awakened Militants for Another Haiti (MRH), and the Popular Assembly for Change in La Saline (RPCS). Many organizations from Haiti’s provinces also sent delegates to the Forum, including groups like the Organization of Young Patriots for the Development of Baradères (OPDB), the League of Progressive Youth from Grande Rivière du Nord, Pòt la from the Artibonite, and the Revolutionary Movement for the Development of the North West (MRDNO), and OPDSIC from the Grande Anse. There were also international delegates who attended from the Guadeloupe Haiti Tour Committee and the International Support Haiti Network in the United States, and from Travayè e Péyizan (Workers and Peasants) organization in Guadeloupe. Messages of solidarity were also sent from unions and parties in Brazil and Argentina. The meeting was chaired by two other KOD leaders, Oxygène David and Pierre Michaël, who kept the speeches moving at an efficient clip. FOPARK’s Biwon Odigé, whose organization initiated the call for a massive march on Sep. 30, also shared the podium. “Overall, the delegates welcomed and received well KOD’s proposal which was presented at the beginning of the day,” said another KOD leader, Mario Joseph, one of Haiti’s most prominent human rights lawyers, at an Oct. 1 press conference at the Office of International Lawyers (BAI). “The delegates divided themselves into eight workshops which met for almost two hours to analyze the proposal. Afterwards, each workshop presented a summary of the delegates’ reflections on how to reinforce and enrich the proposal. In the days ahead, a committee of synthesis will review the reports of each workshop to draw up a final resolution. All popular organizations who approve the final resolution can sign it, even if there are some who were not able to participate in the Sep. 29 Popular Forum.” Lawyer André Michel, who has been severely persecuted for bringing a corruption lawsuit against the Martelly government, also attended the Forum, as did outspoken Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles, who electrified the room with his address. “Today we will try, even if we have only a little time, to bring a little light to the battle we are leading as political militants,” said Sen. Moïse. “We are clear about it: the international community has an agenda for Haiti. In 1990, we disrupted their plans and elected our own government. Seven months later, they carried out a bloody coup d’état. Since then, it is they who have imposed what they want in Haiti. This cannot continue. They imposed President Martelly on us. They imposed Laurent Lamothe on us.... It is we, the Haitian people, who have to take our destiny in hand. And that is what we are beginning to do here today.”
In concluding its proposal, KOD wrote that the Martelly administration along with the embassies of Washington, Paris, and Ottawa “will say that what we propose is not legal, is not acceptable.... But when the imperialists make a coup or an illegal election, even when the people reject it, they don’t care... What we propose is more democratic, more authentic, more honest and more sovereign than any of the maneuvers the imperialists have carried out in Haiti. It is time for the Haitian people to stop taking orders from the colonists. We have to construct our own democracy, because we are a nation, not a colony. We are our own masters.”
taking to the streets against President Michel Martelly - SF BayView
September 25, 2013
By: Charlie Hinton, Haiti Action Committee
1. Who is Michel Martelly? Martelly grew up during the 27-year
dictatorship of Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier and his son, Jean Claude
"Baby Doc." He joined the Duvalierist death squad, the Tonton
Macoutes, at the age of 15 and later attended Haiti´s military
academy. Under Baby Doc, Martelly, a popular musician, ran the Garage,
a nightclub patronized by army officers and members of Haiti´s tiny
After Baby Doc´s fall in February 1986, a mass democratic movement,
long repressed by the Duvaliers, burst forth and became known as
Lavalas ("flood"), from which emerged Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a
popular liberation theology Catholic priest, who was elected president
in 1990 with 67 percent of the vote in the first free and fair
election in Haiti´s history.
Martelly quickly became a bitter opponent of Lavalas, attacking the
popular movement in his songs played widely on Haitian radio.
Martelly "was closely identified with sympathizers of the 1991
military coup that ousted former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide,"
the Miami Herald observed in 1996, and ran with members of the vicious
FRAPH death squad from that period, infamous for gang rapes and
killing with impunity.
On the day of Aristide´s return to Haiti in 2011, after eight years of
forced exile in South Africa and two days before the "run-off"
election, Martelly was caught in a video on YouTube insulting Aristide
and Lavalas: "The Lavalas are so ugly. They smell like s**t. F**k you,
Lavalas. F**k you, Jean-Bertrand Aristide."
2. The fraudulent presidential election of 2010-2011: In the
presidential election cycle of 2010-2011, the Electoral Council ruled
that Aristide´s Fanmi Lavalas Party could not participate, which
de-legitimized the whole corrupt process. Voter turnout was less than
25 percent in the primaries and less than 20 percent in the "run-off."
The top two candidates announced after the primaries were the wife of
a former pro-Duvalier president and the son-in-law of Rene Preval, the
president at the time. Martelly was declared third, but his supporters
demonstrated violently, and an OAS "investigation" of the elections
ruled that, in fact, Martelly had finished second.
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton flew to Port-au-Prince in January
2011, at the height of the Egyptian revolution, to reinforce this
decision. Martelly received $6 million from an anonymous donor in
Florida to hire a PR firm that had worked on the campaigns of Felipe
Calderón in Mexico and John McCain in the U.S.
3. Corruption: Corruption scandals have followed Martelly since he
refused to divulge who funded his campaign for president.
o Bribes - Award-winning Dominican Republic journalist Nuria Piera
broke the story in April 2012 (later reported in Time) that Martelly
was alleged to have accepted $2.6 million in bribes during and after
the 2010 election to ensure that a Dominican construction company
would receive contracts under his presidency. In addition, the vote to
make Laurent Lamothe the prime minister is known in Haiti as the "tout
moun jwenn vote" ("everyone got their cut" vote).
o Surcharge on international calls and money transfers for "education"
- Questionable new taxes have also fed controversy. A $1.50 tax on
money transfers and a 5 cent per minute tax on phone calls to Haiti
are alleged by Martelly to support education, but the poor majority
continue to face unaffordable school fees, and critics say no money
from this tax has gone to schools. Moreover, Haitian teachers have
been marching to demand back pay. Martelly´s new taxes were not
ratified by or presented to Haiti´s Parliament, making them illegal.
o Travel expenses - When traveling, which he does often, Martelly´s
entourage receives an outrageous per diem from the Haitian government.
According to Sen. Moise Jean-Charles, Martelly gets $20,000 a day, his
wife $10,000 a day, his children $7,500, and others in his inner
circle get $4,000 daily.
o A plan to establish an illegal parallel customs system to circumvent
legislative control - This allegedly involved the selling of a
membership card and gun to anyone who wanted to be part of the
Martelly gang. The membership privileges included tax-exempt status at
customs. The program had to be scratched when the U.S. Drug
Enforcement Administration complained about members facilitating drug
transport on the strength of their membership.
4. Rewriting and undermining Haiti´s Constitution: The overthrow of
Baby Doc in 1986 led to the creation of a new democratic Constitution
in 1987, ratified in a referendum by an overwhelming majority of
Haitians. It recognized Haitian Kreyol as an official language, along
with French, and legalized Vodun, the spiritual practice of the
majority of Haitians. It provided for grassroots participation in
national decision-making, decentralized the nation´s finances and
political structure, and provided for protection of human rights.
On June 12, 2012, Martelly announced new amendments, which concentrate
executive power and herald the return of Duvalier-style dictatorship.
The new illegally amended Constitution, written by non-legislators and
never seen nor voted on by the Parliament prior to its publication,
creates a top down method of choosing a Permanent Electoral Council to
run elections, undermining grassroots participation and centralizing
control from above.
It allows the president to appoint the prime minister after merely
"consulting" the heads of the two chambers of Parliament instead of
requiring Parliamentary ratification. In cases of "presidential
vacancy," the new amendments make the prime minister the provisional
president, so presidents can resign, appoint the prime minister to
succeed them, and thereby maintain perpetual control.
New amendments provide that a "general budget" and a "general
expenditures report" can replace line item annual budgets, thus
limiting parliamentary oversight of the budget.
New amendments return Duvalier era and other retrograde laws, including:
o A 1935 law on "superstitious beliefs," which would ban Vodun once again.
o A 1977 law establishing the Court of State Security to increase
state surveillance and repression.
o A 1969 law that condemns all "imported doctrines," thereby attacking
freedom of thought and freedom of association. Violation of this new
law can result in the DEATH PENALTY. The 1987 Haitian Constitution had
eliminated the death penalty.
5. Restoring the army: In one of the most popular moves of his
administration, President Aristide disbanded the hated Haitian army in
2005. Since the coup that overthrew Aristide for the second time in
2004, U.N. troops and police, currently numbering 8,754 uniformed
personnel, have occupied Haiti. One of Martelly´s campaign promises
was to restore the Haitian Army, and now new Haitian troops are being
trained by Ecuador and Brazil. In addition, well-armed former military
and paramilitary personnel have occupied militia camps since early
2012, supported by Martelly.
6. Return of the death squads: Martelly has issued pink identity cards
with a photo for $30 to selected supporters, promising many benefits
to those who hold them, like jobs and impunity from prosecution.
During the Duvalier period, every Tonton Macoute received a card that
provided many privileges, like free merchandise from any store
entered, entitlement to coerced sex, and fear and respect from people
Sen. John Joel Joseph has identified senators that he claims are
marked for assassination. He identified the people who have been
paying the "hit squads" on behalf of Martelly. He denounced one of the
men as an escaped criminal who had been caught red handed with a "near
death" victim behind his vehicle. Said victim sent the police to a
house where two more victims could be found.
Sen. Joseph identified the leader of the death squad and his vehicle,
denouncing the group as the one which recently assassinated a
grassroots militant. He accused the president and his wife of
pressuring the chief of police to remove the senators´ security
detail, in order to facilitate their assassinations. He denounced a
previous instance when Martelly tried to pressure former police chief
Mario Andresol to integrate a hit-man into the police to assassinate
Sen. Moise Jean Charles.
7. Death of a judge: Martelly set up his wife and son as head of
governmental projects, but with no parliamentary oversight. A Haitian
citizen, Enold Florestal, filed suit with attorney Andre Michel before
Judge Jean Serge Joseph, maintaining that the Martellys were siphoning
off large amounts of state monies, which the Haitian Senate has no
Judge Joseph moved the case to the next judicial level, which required
depositions from the Martellys and various governmental ministers.
Enraged, Martelly and Prime Minister Lamothe called two meetings with
the judge - which they deny took place - to demand he kill the case,
the second on July 11. The judge drank a beverage offered him at that
On July 12 Judge Joseph became violently ill and died on July 13.
Haitian police arrested Florestal on Aug. 16 after viciously beating
him, and Haitian authorities have issued a warrant for the arrest of
attorney Michel, who has gone into hiding. A commission of the Haitian
Parliament is now calling for the impeachment of Martelly based on
illegal meetings with the judge, interference in legal matters and
threats to those involved in the case.
8. Corrupting the judiciary and Parliament: The Martelly regime is
working to establish executive control over the judicial system
through the use of "controlled" prosecutors and judges. In violation
of the Constitution, he appointed as Supreme Court chief justice, Anel
Alexis Joseph, who is 72. Haitian law says a judge must be 65 or under
to be named to this position.
The chief justice also leads the commission that regulates the entire
judicial system, so Judge Anel Alexis Joseph is using his power to
block an investigation into the death of Judge Jean Serge Joseph and
to protect Martelly and his henchmen from all legal challenges,
thereby granting impunity.
Martelly has also corrupted the legislative branch that could bring
charges against members of the executive. He ordered the arrest of
Deputy Arnel Belizaire in spite of parliamentary immunity and his
legal counsel´s advice.
He has so far failed to call elections for 10 senate seats in January
and is trying to force the 10 senators whose terms he says are up -
they say in 2015, not 2014 - to leave office. Since elections have
still not been held for 10 additional seats, if these new 10 seats are
vacated, it would leave the 30 member Senate without a quorum,
allowing Martelly to dissolve the Parliament and rule by decree.
9. Reactionary economic policy: Martelly enforces the Clinton-Bush
plan for economic "development" of Haiti through sweatshops, tourism,
and the selling of oil and mining rights to transnational
corporations. Under this plan, money donated for earthquake relief has
been used to build a duty free export manufacturing zone in the north
of Haiti, which was not affected by the earthquake, and several luxury
hotels in Port-au-Prince. The Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund made a $2
million equity investment in a hotel called the Royal Oasis to give
foreign tourists and investors an "oasis" to escape the miserable
conditions under which the majority of Haitians live.
At the same time, the Martelly regime viciously represses the economic
activities of the poor super majority. The phone and money transfer
taxes cut into their incomes. Taxes have been arbitrarily increased on
imports, affecting small merchants. Thugs wearing masks have burnt
markets in different cities, causing merchants to lose capital they
had been accumulating for years, forcing them to raise new capital
through usury loans. Street vendors are harassed and removed
forcefully, then, after hours, their stands are looted.
10. Duvalierism returns to Haiti: Martelly warmly welcomed the January
2011 return to Haiti of Jean Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, one of the
most brutal dictators of the 20th century, after his decades of
luxurious exile in France. Duvalier still has many supporters in
Haiti, some of whom are armed and have a history of killing political
Martelly´s government is filled with Duvalierists: Hardline former
Haitian army officer David Bazile is now interior minister. Magalie
Racine, daughter of notorious former Tonton Macoute militia chief
Madame Max Adolphe, is Martelly´s youth and sports minister. Public
Works Secretary of State Philippe Cinéas is the son of longtime
Duvalierist figure Alix Cinéas, who was a member of the original
neo-Duvalierist National Council of Government (CNG), which succeeded
Duvalier after his fall in 1986. In addition, Duvalier´s son, Francois
Nicolas Jean Claude Duvalier, is a close advisor to Martelly.
Conclusion: A major objective of the Duvalier dynasty was to
institutionalize dictatorship through death squad brutality, supported
by the United States and other powers. Martelly is an example of their
policies having come to fruition. He´s restoring a government of
impunity per the Duvalier era, building an administration of right
wing ideologues who believe in dictatorship and who collaborate to
sidestep all legislative and judicial controls.
His goal is to implement extreme neo-liberal economic policies on
behalf of Haiti´s less than 1 percent with control over all natural
resources. The people will be at their mercy for factory work and
other "subservient" positions, under the boot of a U.N. occupation
force of 8,754 army and police personnel, the beginnings of a restored
army, paramilitary training camps, death squads, gangs and mafias that
use the cover of the corrupted executive and judicial systems to
The Haitian majority does not accept this return to the bad old days,
however, and has been actively and massively protesting this
repression for the past year. They deserve the support and solidarity
of freedom loving people everywhere.
The Haiti Action Committee is online at www.haitisolidarity.net, email
email@example.com. Charlie Hinton may be reached at
Lawsuits seek reparations from Britain, France, Netherlands for their roles in Atlantic slave trade
Fourteen Caribbean nations are suing the governments of the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands for reparations over what the plaintiffs say is the lingering legacy of the Atlantic slave trade.In a speech Friday at United Nations General Assembly, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves said the European nations must pay for their deeds.“The awful legacy of these crimes against humanity – a legacy which exists today in our Caribbean – ought to be repaired for the developmental benefit of our Caribbean societies and all our peoples,” Gonsalves said. “The European nations must partner in a focused, especial way with us to execute this repairing.”
The lawsuits – which are likely to amount to a lengthy battle – are being brought by The Caribbean Community, or Caricom, a regional organization that focuses mostly on issues such as economic integration. They will be brought to the U.N.'s International Court of Justice, based in The Hague in the Netherlands. It is not immediately clear when court proceedings will begin.The countries will focus on Britain for its role in slavery in the English-speaking Caribbean, France for slavery in Haiti and the Netherlands for Suriname, a Caricom member and former Dutch colony on the northeastern edge of South America.They have hired British law firm Leigh Day, which waged a successful fight for compensation for hundreds of Kenyans who were tortured by the British colonial government as they fought for the liberation of their country during the Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950s and 1960s.According to Martyn Day, a lawyer from the firm, the first step will be to seek a negotiated settlement with the governments of France, Britain and the Netherlands along the lines of the British agreement in June to issue a statement of regret and award compensation of about $21.5 million to the surviving Kenyans."I think they would undoubtedly want to try and see if this can be resolved amicably," Day said of the Caribbean countries, speaking to The Associated Press in July. "But I think the reason they have hired us is that they want to show that they mean business."Caribbean countries Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda already have national commissions on reparations, and each country that does not have a commission has agreed to set one up. The 14 Caricom nations voted unanimously to wage the joint campaign, saying it would be more ambitious than any previous attempt.In the United States, the idea of reparations has surfaced and disappeared numerous times.After the end of the Civil War, about 400,000 acres of land along the Florida, Georgia and South Carolina coasts was taken from former slave owners and set aside for freed slaves, who would each be granted a 40-acre plot of land to farm and make a living. It was the first attempt in the U.S. at reparations, and was reversed by President Andrew Johnson after President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865.Most recently in 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama said he did not support reparations for the descendants of slaves, which put him at odds with the NAACP, The Urban League, the SCLC and about two dozen members of Congress who sponsored legislation to create a commission on slavery.The House issued an apology for slavery in July 2008, and the Senate followed suit in 2009, but neither mentioned reparations. Caribbean officials have not specified a monetary figure for the lawsuits, but Gonsalves and Verene Shepherd, chairwoman of the national reparations commission in Jamaica, both mentioned the fact that Britain at the time of emancipation in 1834 paid 20 million pounds – the equivalent of 200 billion pounds today – to British planters in the Caribbean."Our ancestors got nothing," Shepherd said. "They got their freedom and they were told ‘Go develop yourselves.'"Dexter Mullins contributed to this report, with The Associated Press.
President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe have presented to the Haitian Parliament for ratification their budget for the 2013/2014 fiscal year, but it has provoked criticism and outrage from economists, politicians, parliamentarians, and civil society. Many consider the budget scandalous. Sen. Steven Benoit of the West Department called it a "criminal budget." Speaking Aug. 23 on a Port-au-Prince radio station, Benoit said that the budget, if adopted as presented by the Executive, would penalize Haiti’s poorest. "This is a budget that aims to protect the strong over the weak, those who have few ways to survive," he said, vowing that he would never vote for it. The Chamber of Deputies, where the Executive maintains a majority of votes through bribery, passed the budget without any modifications after one reading. However, the Senate must agree to the exact same version of the budget before it can be ratified. Some ministries saw their budgets increased, while others were severely cut. For example, the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s proposed budget was more than doubled from last year’s 41 million gourdes (US$935,000) to 90 million gourdes (US$2 million). The Ministries of Justice and Public Safety as well as Interior and Local Communities also would get more money, while the Ministries of Agriculture, Education, Public Health, and Social Affairs would be slashed. Meanwhile, the proposed operating budget for the President has more than tripled in the last two years. In 2011 when President Martelly came to power, the budget for the Presidency was 95 million gourdes (US$2.2 million). This amount was increased to 165 million gourdes (US$3.8 million) in Fiscal Year 2012/2013, and for this fiscal year, the Presidency wants a budget of 329 million gourdes (US$7.5 million). There is no conceivable justification for this increase in a country facing a serious economic crisis. To make matters worse, for years the Haitian government has relied on international donors for budget support, usually to the tune of 60 to 70%. But this year the international community has reduced its budget support by 30%. To compensate, the Haitian government is proposing higher taxes and fees on a host of goods and services. The budget reflects the government’s priorities. Out of its total 126.4 billion gourdes (US$2.9 billion), 46.26 billion gourdes (US$1 billion) are earmarked for operations, 77.48 billion gourdes (US$1.8 billion) for capital and social investments, and 2.65 billion gourdes (US$60.4 million) for servicing Haiti’s debt, which Martelly and Lamothe have run up from zero to historic highs (over $1.1 billion) while in office. In short, the government’s operating budget and debt servicing are being significantly increased, while investment in vital economic sectors is being reduced.
For example, the Agriculture Ministry last year received 9.9 billion gourdes (US$226.4 million), but this coming year would get only 7.2 billion gourdes (US$164.7 million). However, in his 2013 New Year speech, Martelly promised to make Haiti self-sufficient in food in the remaining three years of his five year term. In reality, the country continues to import almost everything that Haitians consume while domestic production is falling. The government has even begun importing rice from Vietnam, while shunning support to Haitian farmers, as the proposed budget shows. Martelly also declared 2013 the “Year of the Environment,” saying it was a priority in his five “E” program (Environment, Employment, Education, Energy, and Etat de Droit or State of Law). Yet he allocates only 1.86 billion gourdes (US$42.4 million), or 1.5% of the total budget, for the environment for 2013/2014. Education is also a priority, according to the government’s slogan. However, the supposedly crucial Education Ministry would receive an envelope of only 16.1 billion gourdes (US$36.7 million), a mere 12.8% of the budget, down from 19.3 billion gourdes (US$44 million) last year. If education was truly a priority, there would be a fixed date for the start of classes. But like the past two years, the Martelly/Lamothe government has delayed the traditional September start of the school year until October. Meanwhile, the government has managed to hold multiple carnivals on time each year. The Public Works Ministry would get 26.3 billion gourdes (US$60 million) , or 21% of the overall budget. While Haiti’s deplorable infrastructure is certainly in need of improvement and repair, does it warrant almost double what is being spent on education? Is paving roads really more important than educating Haiti’s children? The 2013/2014 budget also raises many taxes and fees on the Haitian people, both in Haiti and in its diaspora. For example, 10 years ago, a passport cost 750 gourdes (US$17) and 1,000 gourdes (US$23) in a rush. Today, under the new proposed budget, a 10-year passport would cost 10,000 gourdes (US$228). Meanwhile, the fees for drivers licenses, government seals, selling animals, and buying used cars and car parts may be doubled or sometimes tripled in the new budget. Property taxes, generally unheard of in Haiti, are now being levied by tax collectors on outraged peasants. Getting a government seal on a marriage or divorce certificate used to cost one gourde but now would cost 1,000 gourdes (US$23) or 1,500 gourdes (US$34) respectively. A peasant who sells a goat would have to pay 150 gourdes (US$3.40). Selling an ox would incur a tax of 500 gourdes (US$11.40). The average income of a Haitian peasant is about $2 a day. This is a form of extortion on Haiti’s poorest and weakest. Government officials defend such fee hikes and spending cuts by saying they are implementing an austerity policy. But in that case, they should be slashing Martelly’s obscenely bloated and corrupt bureaucracy. For example, the 2013/2014 budget provides a monthly salary of 250,000 gourdes (US$5,700) to First Lady Sophia Saint-Rémy Martelly and 200,000 gourdes (US$4,560) for Martelly’s son, Olivier. Both make more than a minister’s monthly salary of 121,000 gourdes (US$2,760). The salary of a university professor, who forms the future managers for Haiti’s public service, is far from reaching the 50,000 gourdes (US$1,140). Take the case of Professor Herold Toussaint, who teaches at the State University of Haiti (UEH). His monthly salary is a mere 38,000 gourdes (US$867), and this for a man who has a Ph.D. in two disciplines and is the author of several books (Le Nouvelliste, 23 August 2013). According to Haitian economist Eddie Labossière, who spoke on Radio-TV-Timoun on Aug. 27 as a guest of the day, the proposed budget should be sent back to the Executive to be revised by eliminating too high taxes and fees, balancing the investment and operating budgets, and promoting national production. He proposed the elimination or merger of some ministries to free up money to invest in Haiti’s productive sectors. For Labossière, the proposed budget failed to meet three key criteria: “transparency, participation, and accountability.” It is easy to understand why, according to the World Bank, 82% of trained Haitians currently living abroad. Incompetence is substituted for competence. Those who work usually do not receive the salary they deserve, while sinecurists get huge salaries. There is no provision in the 2013/2014 “austerity” budget for improving the working conditions or lives of teachers. The proposed budge would further decapitalize Haiti’s already almost destroyed middle class, deepen poverty in the rural and urban masses, but enrich Martelly and his corrupt cronies. Passage of this proposed budget would likely lead to riots breaking out across the country.
Sprague, Jeb. Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti.
New York: Monthly Review Press, 2012. 400 pp. US$23.95 (paperback).
A sense of the arguments and perspective that drive Jeb Sprague’s
detailed study of paramilitarism in Haiti from the early 1990s to 2004
is given in the following quote, which comes in a closing chapter: “As
with all historical processes, Haiti’s recent history cannot be
reduced to pure good versus pure evil— the popular Lavalas movement
had its own contradictions and failures. Even so, right-wing
paramilitarism and its backers have produced, by far, the most victims
of political violence in Haiti in recent history” (p. 281). Sprague
supports this point—and at the same time aims to expose layers of
political complexity—with an intriguing assessment of the role of
paramilitary organizations in ensuring that popular movements in the
Caribbean republic are kept hobbled.
The span of the study is marked by the two overthrows of
democratically elected popular leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his
Fanmi Lavalas (FL) movement in 1991, and later in 2004. It is to
Sprague’s credit that he keeps in clear view at all times the link
between these events—now half-forgotten in the minds of a foreign
audience unable (or unwilling) to recall Haiti’s history prior to the
2010 earthquake—and contemporary politics in Haiti.
This is a crucial story. For too long, the role of paramilitarism in
these events has been recognized but little studied. This is somewhat
surprising given the presence of state- and private-funded agencies of
social control in Haiti’s history. In the nineteenth century, Haitian
leaders ensured dominance by using the armed forces under their
command to contain popular risings. There was always resistance, and
this resistance only encouraged leaders to sharpen their tools of
repression. Emperor Faustin Soulouque (1847–1859) had his own forces,
and they would form the template for the military control of some of
The most notorious form of state-sponsored paramilitarism in the
twentieth century was, of course, a creature of the Duvalier
dynasty—the Volontaires de la Sécurité Nationale, better known as the
tonton macoute. Duvalierist violence was brutal and far-reaching. Its
mark was profoundly impressed on Haitian politics well beyond the
three decades of successive father (François “Papa Doc”) and son
(Jean-Claude) rule between 1957 and 1986. After the fall of
Jean-Claude Duvalier, repressive military agencies mutated. On the one
hand, there was a national army that had always regarded itself as the
arbiter of power with a stake in preserving the status quo of the
elites and middle classes. On the other, there was a rise in privately
financed security forces that would explode in the early 1990s after
the election of Aristide. Space for the popular classes was tightly
controlled and their demand for justice and democracy was met with
terror. All of this forms the backdrop to Sprague’s analysis and is
covered in an opening chapter. The book’s core chapters attend in
meticulous detail to the period after Aristide’s second election in
2000. All the stakeholders in Haitian politics are amply presented. So
too are the internal political clashes.
Sprague is not only concerned with internal Haitian politics, however.
The author correctly asserts that Haiti’s battle for popular democracy
was never isolated from the broader and profound changes in the
Americas. Indeed the “international community” and “transnational
elites” wielded their enormous influence to ensure the preservation of
their class supremacy. After his election, Aristide was seen as a
threat to this situation, and it is for this reason that the
opposition to him and especially to his supporters was so vicious.
The battle between FL and their opponents since the 1990s is now a
widely known tale that gains new details from Sprague’s retelling.
What distinguishes Sprague’s analysis from that of previous writers is
the special focus on the role of the paramilitary groups in what was
an orchestrated attack against the hard- fought rights of the popular
classes. It bears remembering that the Haitian majority had been
denied democracy until 1990, when Aristide and FL were voted into
power. The story of what happened to supporters of FL after that
powerful moment is supported by some fresh new evidence based on
interviews and recently declassified U.S. government records—11,000
documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, and
correspondence from the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince which come via
a WikiLeaks trove of U.S. Embassy cables. These sources are used
extensively and for the first time in this book. What they add to the
story is a great deal of information on the deep background to the
events surrounding the overthrow of Aristide in 2004 and the traumatic
years that followed. Readers interested in learning more about that
incredibly tense period will find much to consider in Sprague’s highly
Sprague does not despair over the many losses suffered by Haitian
“left and progressive movements” over their rough history of
repression. In his conclusion, he makes clear that they have always
existed in spite of authoritarianism and violent counterattacks (p.
284). One of the solutions he offers is for Haitian movements to ally
with similar regional organizations.
It may be added that what is also desperately needed is a systematic
study of the evolution of Haitian progressive movements. Haitian
popular movements have long remained opaque in political analyses of
Haiti which tend to present them as unifocal. The temptation to view
them as “pure good,” to use Sprague’s term, always remains strong. It
is also easy to accept a certain kind of determinism in explaining the
actions of the popular classes and elites, a tendency that, at times,
is also found in this book. Still, the book reinforces the important
point that the survival of progressive movements in the ever-shifting
world of Haitian politics is a remarkable testament to the strength of
their desire for full inclusion in a process that was set up to keep
It must be mentioned that there are opposing readings to the events
that Sprague covers. The view that FL had become thoroughly corrupted
by 2000 is passionately held by some commentators in Haiti and the
United States. Some of these alternate views are presented in an
appendix that favorably reviews the work of Peter Hallward (a
“narrative from below”) and takes several issues with that of Alex
Dupuy (a “narrative from above”). This discussion is interesting but
unnecessary. The book stands well enough on its own case, and its
author does well to remind us why the conversation about Haiti’s
recent political history clearly needs to continue.
Matthew J. Smith is a senior lecturer in the Department of History and
Archaeology at the University of West Indies, Mona. His area of
research includes Haitian political history, with a focus on
radicalism and popular movements in the twentieth century. He is the
author of Red and Black in Haiti: Radicalism, Conflict, and Political
Change, 1934–1957, University of North Carolina Press, 2009. Address
correspondence to Matthew J. Smith, Department of History, The
University of West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. E-mail: matthew.smith@
I need the names of the important elected officials for Jacmel....mayor, district governor, federal legislator of senator.....minister of health and minister of education. I need their contact email address or mailing address and phone numbers. I also need the names, phones and addresses of the hospitals in the area of Jacmel. I need to know if there are nursing schools and medical schools in Jacmel area. I am interest in developing health care education in Jacmel....thank you for your…
When 13 year old Weynshet leaves her orphanage in Ethiopia with her new American parents, she believes all her prayers have been answered. But in gaining a family, she must leave behind everything she has ever known. Spanning four years in the life of one irrepressible girl, the film offers an intimate look at the struggle to create an identity in the aftermath of adoption across race and culture.
~ ~ ~
Over the seven years we have been writing here, we have frequently written about adoption. (Adoption tab has links to many archived posts on the topic.) As adoptive parents on the learning continuum, we find ourselves in a different place today than when we entered into adoption twelve years ago. Our growth has led us to open-adoptions with two first families. Those changes and that process has been a beautiful and complicated and wonderful and sorrowful journey.
We all benefit from reminders of how important culture and heritage and family history are to our identity. It is not uncommon to hear "how lucky" adopted children are or how "much better off" they are. The truth is, those statements are almost always painful to both adoptive parents and the adopted child. Adoption can often be lovely and redemptive, but that doesn't make it easy or simple or in any way pain-free. This PBS film did a wonderful job of sharing the more realistic and complex side of international adoption.
Part of the deal when moms deliver with us is they stay in our post postpartum until they feel ready to go and then we take them home. Home can be a USAID tent, with or without a roof, or a cement house that looks pretty okay. We have women at different economic levels in our program. I’ve noticed that regardless of their economic status our ladies are rich in community. As we wind down a dirt road barely big enough for the vehicle and come to a stop people come out of nowhere. Squeals of delight meet us. The mom and baby are welcomed, hugged, prayed with, hugged again and mom is swept off her feet as she is ushered into the house, be it a tiny cinder block house or a bigger house. Grandma grabs and inspects the baby and declares the child perfect. Siblings grab at the baby while they ooh and aah. There is delight all around. Recently (and I wasn’t on this run, I was back at the maternity center delivering another baby) the whole crowd erupted in worship.I am seeing this over and over again. Post postpartum depression doesn’t have a chance in these neighborhoods. Women like each other, they support each other, and they watch each other’s kids. Family is extended and they raise each other’s children. Relationships are close. They fight, sure, but all families do.We tend to get women from the same neighborhoods because they tell each other about the program and then advocate for their friend to get in. It’s all about relationship. Over and over I hear, “Madame John you must take her in, she is my friend.” It trumps everything else. I tell them we are full, her due dates aren’t dates we can do right now, she is too far along etc. It doesn’t matter because friendship is involved and that cancels out all the “no’s” I can muster. You can’t fight friendship.Yesterday we drove a bunch of ladies home who live in the same neighborhood. The ambulance, the all-important somber ER on wheels, was transformed by a howling, laughing, joking group of silly women. We drove from house to house, had to get out, take photos, meet the family and the onlookers and then move on. Each lady was gracious and proud to have us. Poverty lost its power to joy and community. Love pulsated in the air. Our differences melted away.Each house was in a group of other houses. Small, open windows, open doors, open life. Not much privacy but tons of community. I’m thinking these ladies are rich indeed.Beth McHoulHeartline Maternity CenterPort au Prince, HaitiYour prayers and financial support are making a difference in the lives of our ladies and their children. Your help is needed.
If you are passionate about caring for orphans, we invite you to join in the important and rewarding work of preventing orphans in Haiti.
- Support Heartline Ministries as we offer friendship, education, and respectful and loving prenatal care all throughout pregnancy. Prenatal care improves outcomes.
- Support Heartline Ministries as we offer a safe, loving, calm, and clean environment for labor & delivery. Skilled birth-attendants (midwives/nurses) improve outcomes.
- Support Heartline Ministries as we offer postpartum care and emotional support after delivery. Trained health-care workers can identify risks after birth and help drastically reduce maternal mortality in the most dangerous postpartum time period.
- Support Heartline Ministries as we encourage and support mothers as they bond during the crucial first six months of their babies lives. Encouragement and postpartum care during this difficult transition time reduces the infant mortality rate.
- Support Heartline Ministries as we offer family planning and education. Women that are offered education and given a chance to space their children live longer healthier lives.
- Support Heartline Ministries as we offer women the love and respect and care they deserve.
We remain amazed and aware of how privileged we are to be allowed to participate in this work. It is not easy, in fact, it is painful, exhausting, and messy at times; in the sorrow and in the struggle we so often see His glory, provision, and miraculous love. We thank you for helping us stand close to these women as they sort out the tremendous mysteries of life and the incredible miracles of motherhood.
Heartline Ministries Maternity Center Staff
Heartline Ministries is a 501(c)(3) organization Mailing address for donations:PO Box 898Sunnyside WA 98944
Support Heartline Ministries, invest in orphan prevention
at this link or below.
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It is a busy life, this America life. Like every person reading this, we're trying to keep all the plates spinning. People in America just run their ever livin heads off. That's how they roll. You have a social life and you have all sorts of promises out there and you just gotta keep moving. I don't write much, because when I sit down to write a plate falls. I'm thankful to be here getting things accomplished, spinning these plates. I am also desperately missing the joys and challenges of the Haiti plate spinning. (which is different better)
I am hoping to recap the last two-ish weeks for the sake of remembering and documenting. I mainly want to formally update those of you that financially support us, as I believe you are owed an update on how the time away from Haiti is being spent.
Paige is getting established here and doing well with her class load and working quite a few hours. She moves to her own place next month. We are doing the longest goodbye of all time, we know this. We thank each of you that allowed us to be near her during this season of great transition in her life. Thank-you for loving Paige with us when you said "yes" to supporting us while we are here in 'Merica with her.
We are homeschooling the five youngest kids. We go to a Co-op each Monday where the kids are given a chance to hang with other kids and they get their work for the week. This has given us an even greater appreciation for the work that the Burtons have done teaching our kids the last two years. Teaching five grade levels and five unique personalities is something they make look easy -- but -- no. Lies. Not easy.
Troy and I share this responsibility, attempting to give each other breaks away at the library to do our own studying. I am teaching Math. I only teach the two youngest. There is something cruel and unusual about this ... But also - something so very just. I deserve it. I am impatient and bad at Math. I had this coming. A brilliant young woman named Caroline has been teaching the older three kids Math. Her skill and patience with the older three points out my ineptitude with the younger two. Humbling doesn't begin to describe it. Both Phoebe and Lydia like to pretend not to know things they know - in order to see how long I can keep my cool. I get it. I know this is a test and those turkeys will.not.defeat.me.
Troy is taking Anatomy and Physiology and Chemistry. He pretends that he will fail before he takes the tests and then comes home with 98 test scores and annoys the heck out of me. He has classes two days a week. Taking these classes is laying ground work for some longer range goals he has. For a reminder on his situation and hopes/dreams regarding dentistry and Haiti, see this post.
I am inching toward sitting for the North American Registry of Midwives exam. The test is offered a couple times a year. I hope to take it early in 2014. I turned in a huge stack of paperwork to them and await their reply at this point. I am studying whenever time allows. I have had friends ask for an explanation about all of this, I am happy to explain for those interested. There are different ways to become a midwife. There are nurse midwives and then there are certified professional midwives. (Different levels/paths of training.) Obviously, I've mainly worked in Haiti where the needs are great and the health-care options not so great. Because of that, I get to learn extra and for that I am grateful. I have had wicked smart teachers slowly teaching me the nursing parts even though I am not a nurse and won't hold that title. As far as the certification I am pursuing, it is this:
"A Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) is a knowledgeable, skilled and professional independent midwifery practitioner who has met the standards for certification set by the North American Registry of Midwives and is qualified to provide the Midwives Model of Care. The CPM is the only midwifery credential that requires knowledge about and experience in out-of-hospital settings. Most CPMs work in private home or birth center based practices throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Providing continuous care for women throughout their childbearing cycle..."To each person that sacrificially gives to allow us to work and love and live in Haiti --- thank you for seeing how important this time would be for us in the USA and for standing by and approving this semester away. As always, we hope you'll feel free to contact us with questions and that you hear and feel our gratitude.
We're all students all at once - it is a little bit chaotic.
A quick photo and words recap of the last two weeks ...first day of homeschool groupbirthday date with mom and dadbig sister, Britt, brought cinnamon rolls for birthday breakfast
We took Isaac out to Texas Roadhouse for steak for his birthday dinner. He asked the waiter, "So, is your applesauce pretty good?" The waiter said, "Yes, it is, very good." Isaac knew he wanted steak no matter what, that's why he chose the restaurant he chose. The waiter came up to take the order and Isaac said, "I'm gonna go with that applesauce you told me is good" I said, "Buddy, you gotta tell him about your steak too, he doesn't know you or that you are here for steak." "OOOOH! OKAY - Got it!" he said.
He was all questions and hilarity at dinner and by the end of dinner he had a list of things he wanted to google research they were:1. Which states is it legal to have a pet alligator?2. What are the lyrics to the Texas Roadhouse Birthday song? (because it is so good!)3. The store named 7-11 - why is it named 7-11?
These two clowns are playing a sport for the first time in their lives. (Another super sweet gift of being here for a bit, kids are getting to do some special things.) In case you cannot see the obvious when you look at this photo,legitimate athletes right here:
Troy and I had three nights away together in TN. We stayed at a gorgeous place in the Great Smoky Mountains owned by friends that work in Haiti. We visited The (legendary) Farm Midwifery Center. (This means nothing to some people and everything to others. Feel free to be confused or impressed accordingly.)
We had time and space and the peace and quiet enough to have conversations we had long needed to have. It was a short but very sweet. Troy headed back to the kids and his classes after the weekend and I stayed to work with a Doctor that we met after the earthquake. I got to observe prenatal visits and a bunch of other things and attend hospital births with him. I enjoyed every minute of my time there. It was a great learning experience.
The Farm (Top photo in stained glass dome is at the farm too.)
Troy did not believe in me, so this happened.
This past weekend we were at 'The Idea Camp' in Austin. While we were at the conference Isaac, Hope, and Noah spent time with friends of ours and came home exhausted from so much fun and activity. They keep thanking us for sharing our new friends with them.
At the conference we enjoyed seeing friends and meeting people we've long communicated with on-line but never had the joy of meeting. Troy did the speaking part because I had determined that I felt too weepy. He was merciful and said I could say one quick thing and then just sit there and look adoringly at him. So much for no tears; Troy ended up crying through his whole speaking thing.
People really seem to love when men cry. I feel like he should take that show on the road.
When Troy was speaking (crying) about Haiti and the tension of living in a fractured place of joy and sorrow and brokenness, the heart of what he hoped to share is found in these words from Henri Nouwen after he said,
"Don't put the cure before the care":
Real care is not ambiguous. Real care excludes indifference and is the opposite of apathy.
The word care finds its roots in the Gothic Kara, which means lament. The basic meaning of care is ‘to grieve, to experience sorrow, to cry out with.’
I am very much struck by this background of the word care because we tend to look at caring as an attitude of the strong toward the weak, of the powerful toward the powerless, of the have’s toward the have-not’s.
And, in fact, we feel quite uncomfortable with an invitation to enter into someone’s pain before doing something about it.
by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)
A prominent Haitian senator charges that President Michel Martelly is planning to assassinate him and three other senators by withdrawing their security details and then attacking them with hired gunmen, who have allegedly already killed a community activist in August. In a Sep. 4 press conference, Senator John Joël Joseph of Haiti’s West Department said that Martelly and his wife, Sophia St. Rémy Martelly, held a meeting with Police Chief Godson Orélus in which they demanded that he suspend the security details for several prominent opposition senators and deputies. When Orélus refused, the First Lady became “very angry at him, saying that her husband never asks him for anything, so he better do it, thus she demanded that he withdraw the security” of those parliamentarians, Joseph said, claiming she slammed her hand on the table.
The three other allegedly targeted senators are Senate President Simon Dieuseul Desras, Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles (North), and Sen. Francky Exius (South). Sen. Joseph said several other senators and deputies were also on a “list of people to eliminate, which includes me.” Police Chief Orélus told Haïti Liberté that Sen. Joseph’s source for his declaration was “very evil” and “fooling him because that is false information.” “I was never in a meeting like that,” Orélus said. “I never received an order to withdraw the security from any senator or deputy.” In reply, Sen. Joseph told Haïti Liberté that “I know very well that the Director General of the Police would never take it on himself to admit that he met with the president and the president’s wife and that he was pressured.” “Perhaps he should have responded to the questions with more diplomacy,” Sen. Joseph said. “But for him to come out and say that there is no truth [in my charge], that leaves me very disappointed with him.” The senator says he thoroughly investigated and confirmed the information before making it public. Sen. Joseph said that the Martelly regime has a death squad run by a drug dealer known as Sonson Lafamilia, whom former police chief Mario Andrésol arrested in 2005 with more than $3 million in cash in his car. He is assisted by a member of Martelly’s close security detail (Presidential Security Unit or USP), a certain Vladimir, Joseph told Haïti Liberté. Lafamilia (not his real name) and Vladimir in turn command a group of street assassins, according to Joseph, including two men known as Benedict Salaam and Brutal, both of whom publicly shot and knifed to death community activist Garry Désir at the end of August in the capital’s central Champ de Mars plaza. Désir, who had just come from a conference, was a member of the Cameroun Base popular organization in the capital’s Belair neighborhood. “They fired on him, then they stabbed him, then they shot him again several times,” Joseph said. “Meanwhile, there was a police car just a few yard away from them. When Brutal finished his crime, the police watched him go. They didn’t even pursue him because they knew that he was an element payed by the National Palace to execute well-known people.” Asked if he thought Martelly was aware of these alleged crimes and the death squad, Joseph replied that “these are people who are directly connected to the president’s team, who have official dark-windowed SUVs to carry out a number of missions.”
“All indications are that the president’s hand is implicated in all of this,” Sen. Joseph concluded.
by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)
The United Nations mission in Haiti, already facing a credibility crisis over its introduction of cholera, is facing new allegations that one of its troops raped an 18-year old woman this past weekend in the town of Léogâne, according to police inspector Wilson Hippolite. In an e-mailed statement, the UN acknowledged that they “are aware of the allegations made against a military staff member” and noted that a “preliminary investigation has been launched to determine the facts of the case.” According to Metropole Haiti, the alleged assault occurred off National Highway #2 on Sat., Sep. 7, when the 18-year old woman was approached by a Sri Lankan UN military officer. A Justice of the Peace, conducting a preliminary investigation, visited the site of the alleged assault on Sunday and found a used condom. Further tests are being conducted, according to the report. The accused has been moved to a different MINUSTAH base in another part of the country as the investigation unfolds. As of Jul. 30, Sri Lanka had over 860 troops stationed in Haiti, making it the third largest troop contributing country to the nine year-old mission.
This is but the latest in a stringof sexual abuse scandals that have plagued the UN mission in Haiti. And it’s not the first time Sri Lankan troops have been involved; in 2007 over 100 Sri Lankan members of MINUSTAH were repatriated after allegations of “transactional sex with underage girls.” In fact, according to the UN Conduct and Discipline Unit, there have been 78 allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by members of MINUSTAH reported in just the last seven years. Responding to the latest allegation, the UN mission noted that “the UN has a zero tolerance policy regarding sexual exploitation and abuse that we, at MINUSTAH, strictly enforce.” However the UN lacks the authority to hold accountable those who are found responsible. Troops stationed in Haiti under the UN mission are subject only to the justice system of their home country. In 2011, four Uruguayan troops were repatriated after a video surfaced showing the sexual assault of a Haitian man. Though the case has dragged on in the Uruguayan legal system, this week they were sentenced to two years and one month in prison. However, as they served three months last year as the case progressed, they will not have to return to prison, according to local news reports.
In response to the ever-expanding list of sexual abuse allegations, MINUSTAH has stepped up its efforts to train police and military on sexual conduct. The latest report of the Secretary General for the UN Security Council states that 1,074 personnel were put through “training sessions” and that MINUSTAH leadership “consistently delivered a strong message to all staff members to maintain the highest standards of conduct at all times.” But, without any real authority to punish those who violate the standards, the number of sexual abuse cases continues to rise. Through the first 8 months of 2013, there had already been 13 allegations. The latest makes 14. While MINUSTAH makes up less than 10% of UN peacekeeping forces worldwide, the mission has accounted for over 35% of all sexual abuse and exploitation allegations against all such UN forces in 2013.