On April Fool's day, I wrote over at A Life Overseas ... Read it here.
I don’t have any desire to be filthy rich. I don’t yearn for flashy cars or fancy vacations. I don’t want or need everyone to have the same income level. That is not it at all. It has occurred to me that even if I could pay Geronne a U.S. salary, I’d still find the whole arrangement a bit unsettling.
As I’ve come to love Geronne I’ve realized that she doesn’t necessarily want what I have either. She is not silently seething about anything I have while she switches the fourth laundry load of the day. She would like her daughter to be educated, her simple country home to be built. When she gets ill she would like to have the cash flow to go visit a competent doctor. In her culture, gainful employment means a ton of pressure to share the money she makes with many others. Given the choice, she would probably prefer a lot less of that pressure.
Congratulations to HaitiAnalysis Contributor Wadner Pierre for Graduating with his BA in Journalism!
I contracted cholera two years ago by the breezy beaches of Port Salut, while attempting to escape burnout, a broken heart, and the lingering pangs of Dengue fever in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital. Cholera’s not a whole lot different from food poisoning and is no big deal if you have a clean toilet, potable water, know how to treat it, and aren’t malnourished. But in hunger-wracked Haiti, where there is no sewage system and where water and sanitation are almost completely privatized, cholera has been a death sentence for over 8,000 people. According to a host of scientific studies (including the UN’s own investigators), the South Asian strain of the disease was likely imported by UN troops from Nepal in October 2010. Having sickened over 640,000, it is now the worst cholera epidemic in modern history.
A week before the long-delayed release of an international $2.2 billion 10-year eliminate-cholera plan at the end of February, the UN rejected outright a legal claim filed by over 5,000 cholera victims seeking financial compensation, an apology for the UN’s gross negligence, and a commitment that the world body rebuild Haiti’s water and sanitation infrastructure. Invoking immunity under its1946 convention, the UN snubbed the suit as “not receivable.” It has not apologized and has committed only 1% ($23.5 million) to the plan, recommending Haiti get the rest from the “private sector” or from “major venture philanthropist individuals,” according to Nigel Fisher, the new head of the UN military occupation force in Haiti known as MINUSTAH. "Combating water born diseases, cholera, is actually a good investment if you want to attract investors," Fisher added. With some 9,000 armed soldiers and police officers, MINUSTAH had an annual budget of over $800 million last year. Its current one-year mandate ends on Oct. 15, 2013. In a country where nearly 80% of people live on less that $2 a day, the water-and-sanitation-access-for-profit model has left over 80% without adequate sanitation and nearly a third without potable water. "When you look at the price of a bag of water, supposedly treated, it costs more to buy a gallon of water when you're poor than a gallon of diesel fuel," said veteran political activist Patrick Elie, looking at water vendors weave through traffic and crowds to sell as many 300ml 5 cent bags of iced water as possible before they turned hot under Haiti’s blistering sun. Those in tent camps and shanties who can’t pay for a toilet, defecate into plastic bags that end up in the nearest canal or ravine. While the poorest of the poor get their water and get rid of their waste in plastic bags, the rest are subject to the pay-as-you-go free-market chaos of water and waste tanker-trucks, run almost entirely by the local and international NGO private sector. A sharp rise in petrol’s price, if some event, say, changes Hugo Chavez's PetroCaribe deal under which Haiti gets cheap oil largely on credit, could quickly deepen Haiti's water and sanitation crisis. DINEPA, Haiti’s National Water and Sanitation Agency founded in 2008, says around a dozen private companies collect and dispose of sewage along with an unregistered number of manual merchant toilet cleaners, know as “bayakou.” DINEPA could not answer how many private water provision companies operate in Haiti and directed the query to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, which sent the question back to DINEPA. There is evidently no registration of water companies and no state regulation of water quality. Haiti is one of the few countries in the world where water security has deteriorated since the implementation in 2000 of the Millennium Development Goals, while, since 2004, the UN has maintained a multi-billion dollar military occupation in a country with no war and one of the lowest homicide rates in the region. Jon Andrus, Deputy Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), concedes that the privatization of Haiti’s water and sanitation has threatened Haiti’s most vulnerable people and that PAHO and partners "have failed for decades to reverse that situation." Andrus is optimistic about the new plan having seen first hand the eradication of polio, rubella, and measles in some of the poorest parts of the world, despite “naysayers” even at high levels of government. The challenge of raising $2.2 billion in the face of international donor fatigue is not small, even though only 1% of post-earthquake funds actually went to the Haitian government, and international donors still owe Haiti $2.5 billion in unfulfilled pledges. The U.S. alone has yet to come through on $650 million pledged in post-earthquake “build back better” funds, which could neatly cover the next two years of the cholera eradication plan. “I can’t think of another country where they built the infrastructure from the ground up in an emergency context” said Dr. Daniele Lantagne, a U.S. cholera expert specializing in emergency water and sanitation interventions in developing countries. Lantagne is one of the leading scientists who concluded the UN’s camp of Nepalese soldiers in Mirebalais on Haiti’s Central Plateau was “the most likely source of the introduction of cholera into Haiti.” On Feb. 27, 2013, the UN billed the 10-year cholera eradication plan as its own (the Haitian and Dominican governments had originally proposed it in January 2012). Yann Libessart, the communication officer of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), was not impressed by the lofty rhetoric of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and others that day. Only $238 million, barely half of the plan’s funding for the next two years, has been scraped together, most of that ($215 million) coming from money already pledged during the Mar. 31, 2010 post-earthquake UN conference. Meanwhile cholera treatment centers which MSF passed on to the government are currently “degenerating” into “contamination zones,” he says. When asked who should fund the plan, Libessart is blunt: “the people who are responsible for the introduction of the disease into the country, for example.” The same sentiment was expressed by Dr. Ralph Ternier, Partners In Health Director of Community Care and Support in the Central Plateau, where cholera originated and persists today at a rate double the national average. “What’s important for this kind of institution is their image,” said Ternier, not surprised by the UN’s parsimony on cholera relief. “The fact that they’d give more money would mean they are guilty.” Emergency funds for cholera - only 2.5% of which ever went to the Haitian government - dried up in January. Most NGOs have left and the funding vacuum is squeezing DINEPA, putting the water and sanitation jobs of two dozen qualified Haitians on the firing line. In January, white UN sewage trucks could be seen offloading their contents into the tailing ponds of Haiti’s first sewage treatment plant in Morne à Cabrit. Now, that plant has been closed for maintenance due to lack of operational funds. It opened only 18 months ago. Since sewage treatment is central to stopping cholera, why aren’t international funds forthcoming? “It beats me,” says Wilson Etienne, a DINEPA official who oversaw the the building of the treatment site. DINEPA still aims to open two dozen treatment sites, one in each urban center, but the only business model Etienne foresees making this possible is one that charges $4 per cubic meter of human waste. For now, the Morne à Cabrit plant remains closed. “This site should have been something Haitians could be really proud of,” laments Etienne, shaking his head.
An earlier version of this article was published in The Nation.
Cholera victims in a Haitian clinic. With Haiti’s water and sanitation almost completely privatized, cholera has been a death sentence for over 8,000 people.
This past Sunday's birth was stressful. I am still new enough at this that I tend to be a little nervous after-the-fact when I see something new happen. The "what if" game is dumb, but I play it with such excellence. The more you take part in birth the more you learn and the more the complications become a part of your normal. When I am being rational I know that it is true. Normal, easy birth was once stressful too.
Thanks to Jesus and the people He uses, it all ended well and both Mom and Babe are fine. I don't want to be melodramatic, I mainly want to communicate that those intense births zap you of your natural adrenaline and for about a day afterward (two?) you guess that if someone gave you a breathalyzer they'd determine you were over the legal limit and send you back to bed. You just feel punch-drunk and odd.
I had a hard time turning the birth adrenaline off and did not sleep very long or well Sunday night.
Monday morning the alarm went off. I rolled over to do what I do first every day. Sadly it is not to pray or grab my Bible or kiss my husband.
I grabbed my phone, turned off the alarm and checked email on the phone with my good right eye. Some days I am checking for important reasons, other days out of habit. On this day I was checking to see if the American Airlines flight I was waiting on would be arriving on time.
On occasion someone will write to us and say, "I am coming through the Port au Prince airport, what can I bring?" This person, my friend Shelly, was coming to finish her adoption and I asked if my mom could please mail a birthday gift for Noah to her. Beth asked her to bring candy for the annual "Grandma Beth" Easter baskets for the kids tradition. Shelly graciously agreed to carry those items in and took a few other last minute requests in stride.
After my feet were on the ground I called Melissa, the nurse midwife and friend I work with at the Maternity Center. We had been sharing Beth's truck while she was in the USA watching her grandson be born. Melissa said, "Sorry Tara, I just tried and Beth's truck will not start." I sighed. The vehicle problems never end here. (We have vehicles. Problems come with them. The alternative is walking, that is what most of our neighbors do. Of course I recognize my problems are also a problem of privilege) "Okay. I will figure out a new plan, thanks."
I asked Troy if we could start school late. He called Jimmy and Becky and explained I needed the one working car we had for a bit to go the other direction from school. I walked outside to get in the truck and found the tire beyond flat. It was the disintegrated type of flat, not simply low on air.
By this time the plane was on the ground and I knew traffic could make traveling the short distance problematic.
I instructed the nearest child to go tell Troy the tire was replete of air and started walking toward Heartline's guesthouse. On the walk I asked the guesthouse manager if she could allow me less than one hour use of the van. It was her day off, but she told me I could take it. To cover my communication bases I called one more person to tell them the same thing.
I was buzzing along thinking, "Gee. This is such a cruddy start to the day. Kids are gonna be late, the whole day is off track. What next?" I wish I had a timer tracking my negative thoughts. It is no exaggeration to guess that within 10 seconds of that thought I heard the crunching sound of my van (not my van technically) scraping another truck.
A vehicle used for public transportation was parked on the right loading passengers. The driver let his foot of the brake and pulled up ever so slowly at the same time that I was passing. <crunch> I think it was my fault, not his. The van is long and I think I was moving toward my right turn that was coming up and I moved too soon for the length of that stinkin van. A lot of vehicles in Haiti have custom made giant iron bumpers added onto them. It is called "defans" - you get the idea - to defend your car from injury the black metal bars stick out further than your car/truck/van. After the back panel was scraped the defans on my van got caught on his defans. I stopped, backed up two inches, and they ended their brief entanglement. The driver of the other vehicle motioned for me to pull up and park in front of him on the side of the road. People watching yelled their opinions about my driving skills. I started shaking like a leaf. The driver and I talked. He was nice enough. I explained to him that my Kreyol is only good for household and women's health issues.
Since I could not find a way to incorporate the words clean, wash, dry, vagina, or contractions into our discussion about the vehicles I begged him to allow my husband to call him to discuss my stupidity later. I don't negotiate and I don't like numbers - I could easily think I was being asked for 500 dollars when really it was only 500 gourdes. I explained that a person was waiting at the airport for me. We traded numbers, he told me where he thought I should go get the defans fixed and I drove off without closely examining anything. I wanted out of there, I wanted to stop shaking, and I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry my eyes out.
A mile down the road I hit one of Haiti's 6 billion potholes and the entire defans fell off on the ground. Swear word spoken, I pulled over and ran back to pick it up. I try to do some push ups now and again to sculpt my guns, but even my most Herculean effort could not possibly pick that thing up. Three guys took pity on me and carried it to the van. We put it inside the van on top of the rows of seats.
I proceeded to the airport to meet my friend. I got the bag from her quickly because she had been waiting on me and needed to leave. I walked back to the van and allowed myself a complete and total cataclysmic melt down. I fell apart in a heap of uncontrolled sobs.
A male friend we once worked with saw me and walked up to tell me "Oh Madame Troy - This is material stuff. Don't cry. Stop!" I told him to please leave. I had no intention of pulling it together.
I started looking for John to confess. I texted Troy to let him know. I texted Paige. I called Jimmy to ask him if we could call school off altogether. I continued purging tears.
About an hour later Troy arrived to the airport parking lot where I sat with my scraped van with no defans to find my face unrecognizable. Who knew eyelids can quadruple in size over the course of just one hour? We left the van parked. Troy took me home where I laid down to convulse in tears for a good long time. I knew it was about more than the van. I knew it was about a friend leaving Haiti, a hard birth, fears, injustice, and other really hard and unjust things going on with people I love.
- The van still runs perfectly well and the shop will have it fixed by Friday.
- My eyelids are normal size again.
- The kids had a really fun snowday "mom wrecked the van" day off and were thrilled to play with Noah's new gift.
Factoring the cost of the trip to pick it up, this is the year each child's Easter basket from Beth will be valued at approximately $250 - Noah's legos for his birthday now cost about $300.
Very soon I will find a way to laugh at all that and focus on the only fact that matters: While we have been living in Friday -- Sunday is coming.
it is good to come togetherin our friendship to rememberall the reasons hope is in our hearts
hallelujah hallelujahChrist our joy and strengthhallelujah hallelujahChrist our joy and strength
now with patience in our sufferingperseverance in our prayerswith good reason this hope is in our hearts
hallelujah hallelujahChrist our joy and strengthhallelujah hallelujahChrist our joy and strength
oh we saw the face of Angelsmany good things well securedfor good reason this joy is in our hearts
hallelujah hallelujahChrist our joy and strengthhallelujah hallelujahChrist our joy and strength
hallelujah hallelujahChrist our joy and strengthhallelujah hallelujahChrist our joy and strength
for good reason joy is in our hearts
Sirona has worked for years on developing sustainable businesses in Haiti based upon alternative energy. The goal has always been to move from charity to self-sustaining programs that are Haitian-run enterprises. We have successfully worked in both biofuel and solar, and now…
“The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” ― Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
The last few days have been intense. Once I am able to laugh at it maybe I'll break it down in detail. For now we ask for prayers for the ladies that are due in the next thirty days. These are strong women that have endured more than I can imagine.
On Sunday while rubbing Marie Nirva's back during a contraction, we noticed a huge dent. We asked her about it and she said, "That is from when I got shot during a burglary of my home when I was ten years old." Marie had an intense birth. She and her son are doing well now.
The photo above is of Honchye (L) and Nadia (R), both are due in the next thirty days. The story that Honchyse told me about the violent way her mother died will never be forgotten. It defies comprehension. She carries that pain and loss. She won't have her mother with her when she delivers her first born, due mid-April.
At times all this depravity and brokeness that we see and hear about can squash and even swallow our hope whole. We all count on prayers for strength and courage. Thank you for carrying these burdens with us. Thank you for standing with and fighting for Haitian women.
God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Is there anything more heartwarming than to see one dishonest corporate journalist applaud another?Michael Deibert is a former Reuters journalist and author of “Notes from the Last Testament”, a long winded and mendacious whitewash of the US-led coup that ousted Haiti’s democratically elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, in 2004.Justin Podur fully exposed Deibert when they debated years ago. In this exchange that I had with Deibert on Truthdig’s website, Deibert made the bizarre claim that I belonged to a political current that tried to deny former Haitian president Rene Preval his 2006 election victory.  When I asked Deibert how in the world he could justify such nonsense (which was the exact opposite of the truth) he went silent – of course, because he made it up.
Deibert once strongly insinuated that Jeb Sprague, author of a recent book about Haiti, had a criminal background. It appears that slandering former Haitian political prisoners (in particular So Ann) produced habits that he unwisely directed at people much better able to respond. It was not at all surprising to see Deibert praise Rory Carroll’s book. Hugo Chavez distinguished himself by being an outspoken opponent of the 2004 coup in Haiti that Deibert has worked so hard to whitewash.Between 2006-2012, Rory Carroll supplied about 75% of the “left leaning” UK Guardian’s output about Venezuela. Carroll churned out article after article claiming that Venezuela’s democracy and economy were on the verge of total collapse. It would be hard to improve on this joint effort by Venezuelanalysis.com and News Unspun that demolished one of his most recent outbursts.In 2009, Carroll proclaimed that “austerity is inevitable” in Venezuela. Sadly for Carroll, it clearly wasn’t inevitable then and isn’t now. In 2010, Carroll attempted to use a Wikileaks document to substantiate his claims:
“Venezuela's tottering economy is forcing Hugo Chávez to make deals with foreign corporations to save his socialist revolution from going broke” Carroll insisted.
As I discussed here, Carroll twisted what the US Embassy cable actually said in order to conclude that the foreign investors had the Chavez government by the throat. At the same time, Carroll contradicted himself by claiming that foreign investors were afraid to let on that they had Chavez by the throat. In 2011, Carroll shamefully distorted an interview he did with Noam Chomsky about Venezuela. In that case, the flak the Guardian received at least compelled them to publish the transcript and amend the headline.In 2011, the Guardian also published a petition protesting the Guardian’s Venezuela coverage. It was signed by Noam Chomsky, John Pilger and many others. Carroll (perhaps at the insistence of his editors, perhaps not) refused to report on the plight of hundreds of Chavista peasants murdered in crimes that strongly implicate wealthy landowners vehemently opposed to Chavez. The story casts a tremendous amount of doubt on everything Carroll had reported about the supposedly cowed Venezuelan judiciary that took marching order from Chavez. Both Carroll, and his editors, therefore had ample incentive to ignore it.Before anyone wastes money on Carroll’s book, I strongly suggest they read output of his that is available for free online. Many of the unanswered emails I sent to him over the years are available online as well. For laughs (and edification) I also recommend that people watch Rory Carroll desperately tread water in this Al Jazeera segment.
 In fact, in a post to the Bob Corbett's Haiti List dated Feb 20, 2007 Deibert wrote
"As to the Znet articles Mr. Emersberger cites, I actually alluded to them (as well as the efforts of the political current Mr. Emersberger belongs to in denying René Préval his rightful place at the ballot box) here"
Happy Happy Birthday Britt! This is the year you earn your Master of Public Health degree and take on the next mountain. We are so proud of you!
In just four days our son-in-law, also a first born in his family, turns 27. He and Britt will both don their cap and gown to be awarded their masters degrees in May. We cannot go see them cross the stage but we'll cheer from here. We are pretty amazed at the drive and determination of these two wide-smiling and precious fools. :)
To celebrate the birth of these two ^ - we have Marie Nirva in labor at the Heartline Maternity Center and Nadia on her way in with a lot of discomfort. Maybe we will have two more March birthdays by the end of this day????
(Want to pray for the courageous mothers of Haiti? See the list of ladies to pray for here.)
Surrounded by family support, Adonea delivered a healthy baby girl Tuesday night at 8pm.
Meet Victoria, she is all kinds of delicious and perfect.
Adonea's friend Edline told her about the program and advocated hard-core-pushy style for her to be accepted. She joined the program later in her pregnancy than most ladies do. Adonea came each Thursday without fail and seemed to enjoy the classes, the camaraderie, and the prenatal consultations.
~ ~ ~
Today, shortly before noon Fabienne arrived in obvious pain. Her contractions were coming quickly.
Fabienne is very young and learned that she was carrying a baby girl when Lori, of Real Hope for Haiti told her last year. Lori referred her to Heartline's prenatal program.
Fabienne lives in an area called Martissant, it is not close to Heartline. She couldn't technically afford to come each Thursday so we worked that out and she's been faithful to attend every Thursday ever since she started mid way through the pregnancy. Fabienne walks perfectly even though she doesn't have toes. She carries herself with confidence even though she is missing most of her fingers. Once comfortable with the program and the ladies in the program, Fabienne ended up being a bit of a jokester. She is a funny teenager with quick and ornery wit.
By 3:15 this afternoon Fabienne bravely pushed her daughter Lougmine into the world. The room took a collective breath wondering how the young mother would receive her new little one.
triumphant after delivering her daughter todaymeet Lougmine, 5lbs 10 ounces of more perfection
Admittedly, Fabienne's situation feels heavy and difficult. Adonea's feels joyful and light. These two women are separated by more than their ten year age difference. Fabienne owns only a few pieces of clothing and struggles with the basics, like food, water, and shelter. Adonea has a blackberry and asked me to email her the photos from her birth. She will be driven home in her family's vehicle.
While their economic situations are very different, they are also the same in some important ways. They both long for love, friendship, and happiness. They both want the very best for their baby girls. We pray the world is kind to them all. We pray these baby girls will grow up knowing love.
It is an honor to serve both of these women and to come along side them during one of the most important days of their lives. Thank you for the part you play in loving, encouraging, and giving.
(Last week I gave a tour to an American woman, her teenage daughter and son. After the tour the teenage boy asked if Fabienne was doing well, and wondered if she had delivered. I was touched and taken aback that he knew her name and knew she was due soon. Your care and concern for the ladies lifts our spirits and theirs. Thank-you again!)
Adonea is expecting her first baby sometime soon.
She arrived at 4:45am today with a whole slew of support. Still half asleep and fumbling for keys in the dark, we said, "tout moun leve bonè jodi a, wi" (everyone is up early today) ... And, almost 12 hours later - the support team continues to pray and encourage. On the left, Adonea's Mom and Dad, then her sister and uncle. It is beautiful to have such a loving and supportive cheering section ... We want this for everyone! We're excited to welcome another March baby later today.
Michael Deibert's Haiti Bookshelf
The Huffington Post
(Read the original article here)
Despite its image of relentless poverty and political unrest, Haiti is the most beguiling and charming of destinations for foreign observers, but also one of the most maddeningly complex. From broad brushstrokes outlining the surface of events, outsiders, often devoid of context, are sometimes forced to draw not-always-accurate conclusions. As the place that gave me my start as a foreign correspondent and which was the subject of my first book, Notes from the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti (Seven Stories Press, 2005), Haiti has always had a special place in my heart and trying to inject some history into the discussion of the country has become something of a personal mission. Below are several books that I think would add greatly to our general understanding of Haiti. Though I am sure readers would care to add their own to this list (and though I am sure I have forgotten something essential), this strikes me as a good place to start. MD
Divine Horsemen: The Voodoo Gods of Haiti by Maya Deren
This book, poetic and impressionistic much like the author's more-famous experimental cinema, was the result of years of immersion in Haiti's religious culture, and acts as a worthy companion to the film of the same name.
Papa Doc: Haiti and Its Dictator by Bernard Diederich & Al Burt
This book by two veteran journalists bring to life the tyranny of the dictator François "Papa Doc" Duvalier, who ruled Haiti from 1957 to 1971 and set a bloody benchmark for despots ever since.
Island Possessed by Katherine Dunham
A memoir by the famous African-American choreographer, who lived in Haiti and became the lover of its future president, Dumarsais Estimé, this book is eloquent testimony to the power of Haiti to move and change those who visit her.
The Prophet and Power: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the International Community, and Haiti by Alex Dupuy
This important book by the Haitian sociologist and Wesleyan University professor looks with an unsentimental lens at the the second mandate of Haiti's twice-ousted president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Never the Hope Itself: Love and Ghosts in Latin America and Haiti by Gerry Hadden
A former National Public Radio correspondent who covered Haiti's chaotic 2000 to 2004 era gives us an eyewitness account of how the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide came to an end amidst a tidal wave of corruption, violence and dashed dreams.
Written in Blood: The Story of the Haitian People 1492-1995 by Robert Debs Heinl and Nancy Gordon Heinl
The best general history of Haiti available in English comes from perhaps an unlikely source, a former chief of the U.S. naval mission to Haiti who ran afoul of dictator François Duvalier. Nevertheless, over a gripping 889 pages, the military man and his journalist wife sustain a compelling narrative of Haiti's tumultuous history, resurrecting names and events that have been all-but-forgotten in most English-language writing on the subject.
Voodoo in Haiti by Alfred Métraux
The result of travels through the Haitian countryside by the Swiss Métraux along with his friend, the great Haitian author Jacques Roumain, this decades-old work remains the best overview of Haiti's syncretic indigenous religion.
Red and Black in Haiti: Radicalism, Conflict, and Political Change, 1934-1957 by Matthew J. Smith
This book by a young Jamaican historian covers the period between the departure of the U.S. Marines after a 20-year military occupation and the coming to power of François Duvalier. In doing so, it demonstrates how the dysfunctional nature of Haiti's politics cannot be blamed on a single source, but is rather the product of decades of political and economic miscalculation and ill-intention on the part of both Haiti's leaders and the international community.
Bonjour Blanc: A Journey Through Haiti by Ian Thomson
The English author's experiences traveling through Haiti may be 25 years old, but this book reveals the colour, grime exhilaration and despair which foreigners often experience when ranging through Haiti better than almost any book before or since.
The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier by Amy Wilentz
A beautifully-written account of the years immediately following the fall of the 29-year Duvalier family dictatorship, this book also served to bring to international prominence a young Haitian priest named Jean-Bertrand Aristide, whose depressing legacy once he entered politics gave lie to the man's once-rich promise.
General Sun, My Brother by Jacques Stephen Alexis
A timeless novel of poverty, oppression and flight, this enthralling work is the most famous by the author, who died in an unsuccessful 1961 attempt to overthrow François Duvalier.
Brief Encounters with Che Guevara: Stories by Ben Fountain
This PEN Award-winning 2007 collection of short stories contains several set in Haiti that are obviously the work of someone who has experienced the country at great length.
Vale of Tears: A Novel from Haiti by Paulette Poujol Oriol
A vivid depiction of Port-au-Prince and the life of a woman whose existence has been one of endless struggle, this book is one of the key works from one of Haiti's most important novelists.
Masters of the Dew by Jacques Roumain
This 1943 novel by a Haitian author and diplomat eloquently addresses the plight of Haiti's peasantry in terms that sadly are as relevant today as when the book first appeared.
Children of Heroes by Lyonel Trouillot
A short novel by the man who is probably Haiti's greatest living author, sensitively translated by Linda Coverdale, this book tells the bleak story of two children attempting to flee a Port-au-Prince slum after killing their abusive father.
The works of the Haitian scholars Roger Gaillard, Suzy Castor and Laënnec Hurbon, novelists such as Gary Victor, and others such as the French anthropologist Gérard Barthélemy, are indispensable to any serious understanding of Haiti.
Link to a post by Jen Hatmaker that is well worth the read for those raised-in-the-church thirty and forty somethings in the crowd.
This is where we live, right on the edge, and over it at times. We are wrestling and asking questions that aren't always allowed or welcome in our churches and communities of faith. At times it means we don't pass the theology test or get the church invite to share about Haiti. In order to be true to who we are in Christ we'll take the rejection in stride and keep seeking Him and His Kingdom. I encourage you to click on the link to the full post.
"As for me, I’m throwing my lot in with the other 80 percent, the ones with their arms crossed, their hearts broken, their worth unrealized. The ones who shake their fists and shake their heads, but still crave hope and redemption, because we all do. Bring me your doubts, your fear. My Jesus can handle it all and then some. He is all of our dreams come true. If you don’t believe me, start in Matthew and read until the end of John. Jesus is a hero, a brother, a Savior in every since of the word. He is everything good and gracious. His love for us is embarrassing, boundless, without standards at all.
Along the way, if I make some of my brothers and sisters uncomfortable and we must part, I hope we can throw our arms around each other and promise to write. I trust you will do your part over there, and I’ll do mine out here where life is sticky and faith is less a blueprint and more a compass, gently leading all us ragamuffins north. I’m willing to wrap us all in grace, because one day we’ll both discover we got some parts right and other parts wrong. Jesus’ mercy is going to be enough for us all.
So if anyone wants to venture out to the margins, past familiar boundaries, through sanctioned Christian staples, beyond guilt-by-association fears, outside traditional approval – I’ll be here with my people, with Jesus ... "
Never stop fighting ... Don't give up!
Found this at A Life Overseas.
(Recently added as a writer here ...very touched to have been asked to contribute.)
By Kim Ives - Haiti Liberte, March 17th 2013
Tens of thousands of Haitians spontaneously poured into the streets of Port-au-Prince on the morning of Mar. 12, 2007. President Hugo Chavez had just arrived in Haiti all but unannounced, and a multitude, shrieking and singing with glee, joined him in jogging alongside the motorcade of Haiti’s then President René Préval on its way to the National Palace (later destroyed in the 2010 earthquake).
There, Chavez announced that Venezuela would help Haiti by building power stations, expanding electricity networks, improving airports, supplying garbage trucks, and supporting widely-deployed Cuban medical teams. But the centerpiece of the gifts Chavez brought Haiti was 14,000 barrels of oil a day, a Godsend in a country that has been plagued by blackouts and power shortages for decades.
The oil was part of a PetroCaribe deal which Venezuela had signed with Haiti a year before. Haiti had only to pay 60% for the oil it received, while the remaining 40% could be paid over the course of 25 years at 1% interest. Under similar PetroCaribe deals, Venezuela now provides more than 250,000 barrels a day at sharply discounted prices to 17 Central American and Caribbean countries, including Haiti, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Cuba, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic.
The cost of the program is estimated at some $5 billion annually. But the benefits to, and gratitude from, PetroCaribe recipients are huge, particularly during the on-going global economic crisis. In short, Caracas is underwriting the stability and energy security of most economies in the Caribbean and Central America, at the same time challenging, for the first time in over a century, U.S. hegemony in its own “backyard.”
Washington’s alarm over and hostility to PetroCaribe is layed bare in secret diplomatic cables obtained by the media organization WikiLeaks. Then U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Janet Sanderson rebuked Préval for “giving Chavez a platform to spout anti-American slogans” during his 2007 visit, said one cable cited in an article which debuted in June 2011 a WikiLeaks-based series produced by Haïti Liberté and The Nation.
Reviewing all 250,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables which were later released, one realizes that Sanderson wasn’t the only U.S. diplomat wringing her hands about PetroCaribe.
“It is remarkable that in this current contest we are being outspent by two impoverished countries: Cuba and Venezuela,” noted U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay Frank Baxter in a 2007 cable released by Wikileaks. “We offer a small Fulbright program; they offer a thousand medical scholarships. We offer a half dozen brief IV programs to ‘future leaders’; they offer thousands of eye operations to poor people. We offer complex free trade agreements someday; they offer oil at favorable rates today. Perhaps we should not be surprised that Chavez is winning friends and influencing people at our expense.”
We can now expect the Washington’s “contest” with Venezuela to escalate dramatically as it attempts to take advantage of the Bolivarian regime’s vulnerability during the transition of power. Already Vice President Nicolas Maduro, whom Chavez asked Venezuelans to make his successor, has sounded the alarm. "We have no doubt that commander Chavez was attacked with this illness," Maduro said on Mar. 5, repeating a suspicion voiced by Chavez himself that Washington was somehow responsible for the fatal cancer he contracted. "The old enemies of our fatherland looked for a way to harm his health."
Maduro also announced on national television on Mar. 5 “that a U.S. Embassy attache was being expelled for meeting with military officers and planning to destabilize the country,” the AP reported. A U.S. Air Force attaché was also expelled.
In short, just as the imperative to secure oil has driven the U.S. to multiple wars, coups, and intrigues in the Mideast over the past 60 years, it is now driving the U.S. toward a major new confrontation in Latin America. With Chavez’s death, Washington sees a long awaited opportunity to roll back the Bolivarian Revolution and programs like PetroCaribe. In recent years, Chavez has led Venezuela to nationalize dozens of foreign-owned undertakings, including oil projects run by Exxon Mobil, Texaco Chevron, and other large North American corporations. The future of the hydrocarbon resources in Venezuela’s Maracaibo Basin and Orinoco Belt, recently declared to be the world’s largest, will soon reveal itself to be the central economic and political issue, and hottest flashpoint, in the hemisphere.
In the case of Haiti, Hugo Chavez often said that PetroCaribe and other aid was given “to repay the historic debt that Venezuela owes the Haitian people.” Haiti was the first nation of Latin America, gaining its independence in 1804. In the 19th century’s first example of international solidarity, Haitian revolutionary leaders like Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Alexandre Pétion provided Francisco de Miranda and Simon Bolivar, South America’s “Great Liberator,” with guns, ships, and printing presses to carry out the anti-colonial struggle on the continent.
And this was the dream that inspired Hugo Chavez: a modern Bolivarian revolution sweeping South America, spreading independence from Washington and growing “21stcentury socialism.” PetroCaribe was Chavez’s flagship in that “contest,” as Ambassador Baxter called it.
Ironically, it was former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide who first foiled U.S. election engineering in Latin America in December 1990, but his electoral victory was cut short by a September 1991 coup. Hugo Chavez was the next Latin American leader to successfully carry out a political revolution at the polls in 1998. His people defeated the U.S.-backed coup that tried to unseat him in April 2002. Due to his strategic acumen, his popular support, and the goodwill created with PetroCaribe, Chavez’s prestige grew in Venezuela and around the world during his 14 years in power up until his death today, which will bring a huge tide of mourning across Latin America.
The eulogies will be many, but former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who personally knew and worked with Chavez, made a prescient observation in January that stands out: “In my opinion, history will judge the contributions of Hugo Chavez to Latin American as greater than those of Bolivar.”
only had time for one spring-break family outing, but they seemed pleased...
Fun at the Sugar Cane MusuemExtra time during Spring Break to unbraid, wash, comb, rebraid hair ...
photo of a photo of an amazing afro
two hours of reading each day - spring break requirementsleepover with friendsMeanwhile in TX ....the two big sisters together in Texas this weekend
We didn't take the week off of work for Spring Break but we both got sick and each ended up home in bed a couple of the days, which is not at all to say that our being home meant we spent quality time loving on the little fools of the house. The kids were champs and made their own fun at home and got along well. They enjoy going places but for a week they are quite content to be home-bodies and didn't mind our lack of exciting plans. On Wednesday, in between the rumbles in the Bronx, (bathroom runs) (pun!) we took them to a place near us just to get them out of the house for a bit. The place has implements from sugar cane plantations and artifacts from former rum distilleries. Isaac noticed a bus-load of guests arriving at the exact time we did and said "Well, that's unfortuituous." Noah did dramatic reenactments of the possible pitfalls of each step of the process of harvesting sugar and turning it into rum.
This crew always entertains and makes us laugh. Spring break 2013 may be over Monday morning at 9am, but the fun continues.
Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,Wednesday's child is full of woe,Thursday's child has far to go,Friday's child is loving and giving,Saturday's child works hard for a living,But the child who is born on the Sabbath day,Is lucky and happy and good and gay.
This morning I was refusing to put my feet on the floor when Beth texted at 8am to say someone was in labor and maybe we should all head down to the Maternity Center fairly soon. Fast forward 15 or 20 spazzy - mixed up information-fast moving- pajama wearing minutes later - and a 5 pound 7 ounce baby boy joined the party.
Beth was in running clothes, I was in pajamas and Melissa was wiping sleep out of her eyes. The baby and his Mama didn't seem to care about our lack of readiness for a speedy birth.All is well and Mama and baby are getting to know one another this afternoon.
After the birth, during family planning/DepoProvera day, we converted the Maternity Center into a temporary hair salon ... six hours later, we're getting close to a finished product and a happy Hope.
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