Posted by: posthaiti | February 25, 2010

yes, i’m still here, and so is haiti

i really need to get down to haiti. it’s selfish, in a way: every day i’m here is a day i’m missing there. (however, i’m sticking to the plan of spending february and march working on the outline/structural first draft of a so-called memoir of my six years in SF. so far, i’ve put down quite a few words (somewhere around 45K), which, i suppose, is an accomplishment.)

in going back down, however, a part of me fears the worst: getting some disease, being there when another aftershock strong enough to fell buildings hits (my HODR peeps have reported three in the past week or so via FB status updates), or — truth be told — confronting the sad reality of it all. i have several friends who were in gonaives with me in 2008, and who are working in the U of miami medical tent city near the airport. they work as logisticians, which ranges from fetching supplies to helping kids with broken arms eat. a few nights ago, one of my friends related a scene via FB: caught up in random street violence downtown, a haitian driver was carjacked, shot in the back, and now lies paralyzed from the waist down. she said she nearly lost it (as in, burst into tears); i lose it every time, still, that i read or see a moving story or a video featuring a child with a crushed limb, or no limb. her recount is moving.

i lived in leogane, and i recognize some of the buildings that are now in heaps of bricks. what if i don’t find my friends, or worse, find that they’re dead?

on the other hand, going down and thrusting myself into the situation might be just what i need to accept and deal with the reality. in any case, as my leave date (april 1?) nears, i get more and more energized.

i haven’t been reading a lot of news, only enough to know the basics: tents are needed (go here to buy one, 10, or 30); many amputees are now wandering a city harsh toward people with disabilities; rape is on the rise; and “reconstruction” is on the minds of many. here’s a good story from reuters and as always RAM singer richard morse gives his two (informative) cents via twitter. (i know i keep linking to him, but his unbiased — and unapologetic — perspective on haiti’s government corruption, international aid establishment, and president clinton’s aid initiative is stuff we just won’t get from MSM = mainstream media.)

Posted by: posthaiti | February 25, 2010

vodou: an intro

vodou. one of the most talked about reasons to fall in love with haiti. there are definitely others: the scalding sun; the wet, green foilage; the sense of community and family first; the kindness and welcoming spirit of the people (you feel at home immediately, and it’s because everyone’s door is open to you, no matter where you’re from or what color your skin is; though, i’ve come to suspect this open-arms thing is a caribbean trait, not solely relegated to haiti); the smell of burning garbage; the caw of roosters at all hours of the day; the sweet stench of humidity in everything from the corners of people’s elbows to the scent of mildew on people’s furniture to the sweet aftertaste located somewhere between the first few sips and the bottom of a bottle of barbancourt rum.

but, i digress. i went to a three-day vodou ceremony when i was in leogane, and it was one of the most physically mysterious events i’ve witnessed. the first portion took place over several hours one afternoon, and was located a ways outside the city. we took a rocky tap tap ride to get there, and mostly, it was pretty uneventful. the priest yves blessed an altar, which consisted of a circle drawn in white powder on the dirt and offerings by way of a bottle of orange soda, some flowers, a bottle or two of rum — all placed on the white lines. yves recited what sounded like roman catholic prayers from a worn, leatherbound book, blessing the woman who would partake as, i’ll just call her, the main receiver of spirits, during the next two days.

i’ve read a bit about vodou since getting back, and watched a couple of movies (one was maya deren‘s Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti), but i’m still a bit at a loss for words as to how to describe what i saw. or if i should. anyway, i’ll let you hang for a night, while i collect my thoughts and post a full log tomorrow. unfortunately, i did NOT take any pics, mostly because yves scolded me for trying, then said it was ok. (by that time, i was too drunk — i shake my fist at you, barbancourt! — to bother.)

well, the whole point of this post was to point to this: there will be a vodou ceremony in cambridge, mass., on march 5th, in honor of those who died in haiti. flo will, i hope, be there in spirit. all the deets are on the ‘going with flo’ blog, as well as information on how to help jacmel, which, along with leogane and PAP, is still in dire need of donations, physical help, and moral support.

(btw, we still miss you flo, and think of you every day. where are you?)

Posted by: posthaiti | February 9, 2010

headed back to haiti soon…

hello, folks. sorry it’s been so long, and yes, i flaked on my promise to post pics. i’ve been spending a lot of time building out the structure of a memoir i’ve decided to write based on my time living in san francisco. it’s quite daunting, writing a memoir-type piece, not only the process of remembering all the experiences, but that of layering in details — creating memorable scenes, dialogue, and characters, as well as finding a general story arc. it’s going to prove challenging, to say the least. still, i need to do it, and i think i’m finally up to the challenge.

it’s hard revisiting the past in so much depth and detail, even if it is cathartic. every day is an adventure, though, and i never know what’s going to come out, so i look forward to keeping on keepin’ on.

big news is that i was accepted into HODR’s leogane project! it’s exciting, but i know that this project will be rough. in order to go, i’ll have to prep big time, physically and mentally. i’m thinking of heading to SXSW Interactive before i leave, which only gives me about a month to get into shape.

(SXSW Interactive is the ‘everything digital’ arm of the show, kind of the brainy stepchild of the much more popular music, and now, film scenes. i’m considering a career change back to the interwebs world, where i spent several years back in the day in SF, and so this will be a great networking opp. also, i’m just kind of curious; all my conference-going has been to BORing — and really, really square — science conferences the past five years, so this will be a trip. to wonderland. and i’m looking forward!)

anyway, after i got back from haiti in january, i fell ill for about four weeks. i was Wiped. Out. hence, i’m trying to hit the hot yoga studio AND the gym every day. so far so good on the yoga. not so much on the gym. (yet.)

i don’t know how long i’ll stay in haiti; maybe one month, maybe three? maybe till the end of the project, which is slated for august? i’m not sure what to expect, is all. the work in gonaives, digging out mud-flooded homes, was the hardest physical labor i’ve ever done, and someone told me, the hardest of all the HODR deployments. i can imagine this one will be not only challenging in that sense, but also in terms of bare bones living conditions (ie, we’ll be living in tents, not under any roof).

anyway, pics to come tomorrow. i read on twitter that only one of the grande rue artists, eugene, survived. so very, very sad. and unbelievable still, thinking back to the creativity and salvage-able mentality those sculptors shared. i wonder what they would have done with all the destruction in the wake of this quake? probably made something extraordinary…(i wrote about the grande rue artists here; the pics are some of my favorite from the trip.)

Posted by: posthaiti | February 5, 2010

HODR goes to leogane feb. 15!

today came the most exciting news i’ve heard since coming home: Hands On Disaster Response, or HODR, will deploy on Feb. 15…in the town of leogane! can you believe it? i’d like to go just to be able to find some peeps amidst the rubble, as it were.

so, in order to vol, you actually have to apply. they’ve gotten around 3,000 inquiries, so at this point they’re taking applications on their web site and giving priority to skilled workers and past HODR vols (if you volunteered in gonaives in 2008, you’ve got a better shot). go here for the full announcement.

i applied first thing this morning, with my target leave date either march 7 or march 21, returning (gulp) may 31. i’m not even sure they’ll take me, as i have no building, engineering, or medical skills, which is still what most agencies down there right now are looking for. since i’ve got some unexpected (and reasonably well-paid — thanks, state of NY!) free time that i’d love to devote to haiti’s people, i figure two-and-a-half months is not that long. and, from experience, time goes fast when you’re with the one you love, so to speak. i’m sure even inside the chaos there right now, that familiar and ancient rhythm of life will descend upon the bones and make it feel like you want to stay forever.

on a much more somber note, flo, the wonderful, quirky artist whom i met while breezing from PAP to jacmel, was finally returned to her parents’ home in vermont this week. at the ‘we are going with flo’ blog, a post from today says that his ashes are finally back with his family. flo, i think, knew well the feeling of not just liking haiti, but falling in love with it. that feeling of, ahh, i’m home. THIS is where i belong, THIS is where i need to be. i’m simply glad that he died doing exactly what he loved doing; i think about that often now before going to sleep or during the day when i’m having bad thoughts or feeling anxious, sad, angry, you name it: i think, what would flo be doing? is this how i really want to be spending my time? if this was the last day of my life, what would i be doing, thinking, saying, eating, reading, writing, looking for and at, creating, loving?

actually, i’ve had a bit of trouble keeping up with the news and what’s going on in haiti, outside of HODR announcing their deployment. incidentally, i wrote my butt off today, outlining a piece that one day, i hope, might be long enough and readable enough to become a book. i’m excited, as i think i’ve at last settled on the voice. one of the biggest challenges (so far) of writing long-form anything is finding the right voice and finding it every time you sit down to write. that’s not easy, and i don’t know how it works. sometimes it’s a state of mind, others, it’s not.

anyway, i hope to put the blog and following haiti first and my book outlining second over the next several weeks, so stay tuned for updates.

i had a request for pictures today and realized that i really need to post my haiti pix on flickr. so, those will be up tomorrow, along with a post talking about my experience in jacmel and part one of a recount of the vodou ceremonies in the next days.

Posted by: posthaiti | January 31, 2010

bachelors, dating in NYC, and writer dude

(flag: this is not about haiti, unless we factor in that i’d probably be out on a date right now if i was there and not here, in NYC. so really, it is. sort of.)

oh, NYT: you are killing me. first, there was that article on how accomplished women (read, accomplished black women/women of color) can’t find men who want to date them. now this. even the title alone screams white-upperclass-overeducated-liberal:

A Bachelor’s Effort to Understand Love

first, i’m sure there are plenty of men (well, i hope) who are bachelors and who understand love. why, when your readership includes people across the globe and you’re probably THE most read newspaper of said globe, generalize so blatantly?

second, the funny thing about this article (actually, the very, very sad thing, if you’re a single gal in NYC) is that men like dude are everywhere — in fact, they make up most of the dating city! welcome to a city of writers, playwrights, magazine editors, ad nauseum.

i’ll be blunt: i have SO many girlfriends who complain of the “dating scene” in this town = nonexistent. yep, that’s right, folks: NOONE DATES in NYC. it’s not that people don’t go out, drink together, have dinner, hook up, etc. etc. etc. it’s just that it’s never called a date. and why? i’ve come to the conclusion (a bad one?) that a lot of men here are averse to not only committing to a (gasp) relationship, but also to committing to even liking a girl = not asking her out on a date for fear that she might actually think that it’s a date, that he’s committed to liking her, and that she might (gasp) want to “go out” again. maybe they’re just cautious and afraid of rejection. a lot of my experience, however, points to the arrogance and aloofness of men here, as in, ‘i can do better,’ or ‘why would i settle for that when i can have this?’.

the problem with dude is not that he’s career-oriented; let’s face it, we all are. every single person, young or old, that “immigrates” to this town has BIG PLANS. how could we let a relationship, with all that complexity and complication (homo sapiens are complicated? what?), weigh us down and most importantly, interfere with our plans and goals? and, if we want to make it, honestly, we really can’t. we HAVE to prioritize self and goals above all else.

for a while.

till we realize that if we keep that shit up, we’ll end up like dude, one of the rare successful — but single and hating it — artists in this town, in fact.

women have a clearer sense of when to stop looking at themselves in the mirror and when to start looking at what really matters. our clocks are ticking and even for the most career-oriented, we seem to come to an inevitable conclusion sooner than later: in order to have a family, to fall in love, to date, well, you have to open yourself up to the possibility that another person might enrich your life, that there’s this thing called companionship that might help your becoming (what?) as a human (there’s that word again) even more than your career.

i’ve gone on about 3 dates in my entire 4.5 years here. the rest were just, i dunno, get-togethers. i didn’t get clued in till after a while, but as it turns out, it’s NOT ME. some men (a lot) here simply DON’T WANT TO DATE. maybe they’re tied up and too busy. maybe they don’t want the commitment. there are hundreds, thousands of women here to choose from. why get into a messy, complicated, confusing fling when you can dump that shit at the first sign of trouble for something easier? or younger? or prettier?

i think we all have too many choices here, and a lot of us don’t want to make a commitment, not just men. not only are there too many choices, but it’s hard to open up to people. and it’s hard to get people to open up to you. maybe dude fell into that trap; i know from experience that when i’m in NYC, i clam up in a sense, and become guarded; when i leave town and go somewhere where peeps are fresh, warm, and open, i reciprocate and usually end up attracting men.

or, maybe there’s a reason why i can’t (don’t want. at all.) to date writers and why i can’t (don’t want. at all.) to date anyone who resembles some uptight white dude with no heart. doh.

check out doree shafrir’s funny take on the whole thing at gawker: The Literary Manboys of New York City.

Posted by: posthaiti | January 27, 2010

dire medical sitch, carnivale as healer, more

i have so many thoughts tonight, and not enough time or energy to write them properly. so, a list of sorts, to be followed up on shortly:

1. anderson cooper and CNN’s coverage in general = amazing. i have a newfound respect for the man.

2. the medical sitch on the ground = nightmarish. even with consulting PIH and other extremely well connected and well versed agencies that have been working as docs in the country for years, teams of vols have been blown away by the chaos and lack of logistical support on the ground; by the utter lack of tools, supplies, and places to perform medicine; and by the mismanagement of incoming flights of supplies by the thugs, i mean, american militoire on the ground, numbers reaching close to 20,000. here’s a blog post and an article at CNN that recounts the exhausting situation faced by probably ALL the docs down there right now. my friends are with project medishare, and i’ve heard conflicting opinions on how well organized they are. still, i just got an email back from them and am going to apply to vol in the near future.

(on a side note, here’s the summary of HODR’s assessment, at least for the PAP area:

The damage is massive; entire areas of homes destroyed. There will not be an opportunity for general volunteers, for us or any other organization, for weeks to come. The medical situation seems stabilized.)

3. i’ve read on twitter that there is speculation and/or a high probability that carnivale is off this year. some complain that canceling such a positive, community-building event just plain sucks. maybe carnivale is just what haitians need? here are a few pics — with many more to come — of some of the ateliers i was fortunate enough see while i was in jacmel (thanks to my “tour guide” and artisan himself, tek tek, pictured in the first photo). they were busy preparing the masks that parade-goers wear, which is a laborious, months-long process. such beauty:

4. vodou: i’m not sure how much i want to (or should) reveal of the THREE-DAY ceremony i got to attend, but in preparation for processing that experience i’m going to start by watching the movie version of the book, Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti by Maya Deren. it’s a fascinating religion, in part because it’s so mysterious not only to outsiders, but to those who practice it. in tribute, here’s a pic of a painting of the vodou goddess, la sirene, hanging on the wall at the hotel oloffson. the hotel continues to provide beds/mattresses on the street, water, food, and electricity/internet to journalists from all over the world who are covering the quake. yep, hotel owner richard morse officially rocks. subscribe to his excellent twitter feed here.

on tomorrow’s agenda: aside from writing more, going to my first bikram yoga class (well, in NYC), and hitting the treadmill, i plan to attend a state of the union address meetup. most are held at bars, NYC style (of COURSE! i mean, what a great opp to have a few cocktails!), and i’ll be at the imcomparable moe’s in fort greene. hope to see you there!

Posted by: posthaiti | January 25, 2010

coming and going

i’m officially over haiti news at the moment. and i’m sorry, flo, i missed your memorial today in williamsburg; like the time i missed my own grandfather’s funeral, i couldn’t bear to acknowledge the loss. the actuality of it. and why should i? does everyone need to grieve? maybe not. maybe it could be better, healthier (at least in the short term) to simply remember that person as being alive?

the good news is that flo’s remains are FINALLY headed on a flight back to her home in vermont, according to a blog that’s tracking this, organizing memorials, and in general, doing an excellent job of making an overwhelming situation more bearable. you can follow their progress, too, at the ‘we are going with flo’ blog.

in fact, something bizarre happened. i’ll preface it by saying this: a few weeks (or a month?) after my maternal grandfather died, i had a dream about him. it was SO vivid, and so personal — i actually felt that he was talking to me, winking at me, metaphorically, using words, a smile that i never saw when he was alive, but that suited him perfectly in my dream — i woke feeling that he had visited me. it was that real. it still makes me shiver a bit, as my grandmother, who passed when i was five years old, was in it, too. she was wearing a pastel pink dress; i could hear the material scratch against the folds as she sat down next to my grandpa, who himself wore a grey suit. he was the joker, and she, his demure queen. it was quite odd, since i’ve never dreamt of grandma and never knew her, actually. but here these two were, aflight on the ledge of a big picture window. i didn’t know what was outside the window, or how high up the apartment was, but it felt like it was part of my room and that they were coming into MY very window!

about four days ago, i went out to get a bottle of red wine. it was dark, and i was walking home alone. all of the sudden, as i passed a bar up the street from my place, a man walking behind me said something! i was kind of like, um, why are you talking to me? isn’t that a bit freaky, to start a convo with a woman from behind, at night, who you don’t know? not thinking much of it, i replied and walked on. the man, i noticed, was older than me, had a wiry frame, and wore greasy, scraggly blond hair.

about a day or two after that, i was headed to the gym. as i was climbing the stairs out of the subway station, my head down, my eyes watching the ground, i heard a noise from the man coming down the stairs. at first i thought he was on his cell and was talking to someone else. then i realized, he was talking to me. i looked up.

“did you have fun today?” he asked. taken off guard for a split second, i didn’t know what to say. flo crossed my mind, for some reason, as it was a random event like this that i imagine he might have seized upon and, well, created something out of.

“um, yeah,” i said. this man also had oily blond hair and was gangly. he looked like the man who talked at me the night before last, and i thought maybe it actually was the same guy who thought we were now friends since he recognized me. i paused. “did you?”

i’m not going to say i believe in visitations, but … could it have been flo, in some bizarre twist of time and universal laws of physics, joking with me, making me lighten up amidst my lethargic, grey mood? i don’t know.

anyway, a few of my HODR (hands on disaster response, a great volunteer-run org that is on the ground as we speak) friends are now in PAP, doing logistics work for an org called ‘project medishare.’ PM is bringing teams of volunteer doctors and nurses to the city for week-long stints, and the logisticians do everything that the docs don’t, i guess. i’m anxious to hear what it’s all about and how they’re going to be spending their time. i’ve already emailed them to see if they have any spaces open for next month; my friends told me that they’re full for the next week or two, but that they should have space in the coming month. while i’d like to stay more than a week, i’m not sure i can afford it on several levels. we’ll see.

i just heard that my friend in gonaives, james, lost several brothers, a sister, and an uncle who “meant the world” to him, roughly translated — they all were in PAP when the quake struck. we’ve only been able to send texts since i haven’t been able to get through at all due to the shitty network/no cell service down there. i wish i could do more, and it’s terribly frustrating. but i can’t. i can’t do anything. at this point, it’s best to stop thinking about it, as really, what can i do except keep reaching out to orgs that are on the ground and wait to see when and if they might be taking vols in the near future. my friend paul, who works with an org called ‘healing art missions‘ that’s based in dumas, a town east of PAP, told me to sit tight and wait; the emergency response alone, he says, will be months-long, and the rebuilding, much, much longer.

here are a few pics of the hotel oloffson, a prime example of the so-called gingerbread architecture that dots (or, dotted) the city. my stunning view from the balcony allowed me to take in the entire city, really quite gorgeous from “on high.” sigh. i wonder what is left, and what grimy magic the city can still evoke?

Posted by: posthaiti | January 23, 2010

the grande rue, a tour

it’s a bit strange to realize that i was one of the last new people flo would meet. i wonder if he learned something from me? we had dinner together my only night in jacmel: me, barnaby, zaka, and flo — lovely travel companions, and just what i needed. barnaby, for moral support and stimulating conversation; zaka, for his creative energy, haitian warmth, and ease in the world; and flo, for his companionship and knowledge of both the jacmel and PAP arts scenes. before i go further, here is my fave pic of zaka, against the backdrop of one of the ateliers on the grande rue (which i get to later in the post):

i met flo and barnaby moments after they arrived from miami. it was dinnertime sunday night, my first of two nights at the hotel oloffson, an expat and artists’ hangout, and they came to sit with me and david morel, the ex-NYT photog who has since taken some stunning photographs of quake victims around PAP. we became friends within minutes. they were headed to jacmel the next day and convinced me within one beer’s time to tag along.

the next morning came fast. at breakfast, i realized how NICE it was to have english-speaking travel companions! after a week in the small town of leogane, speaking mostly french, i was ready to joke and use my adult vocab and slang. first, though, flo and zaka, his assistant at the gallery he ran in jacmel, wanted to show barnaby the ‘grande rue’ ateliers, or workshops, located in the heart of the downtown ghetto. barnaby teaches art at a college in dallas, and he had recently spent nine months in togo and was here at flo’s invite to give a weeklong workshop on making natural pigments to the students at fosaj gallery.

the grande rue has gotten a lot of press, as it turns out — it even has several paragraphs devoted to it in my DR/haiti LP guidebook. however, i knew nothing of it or the artists. leave it to flo to know all the players — and, have the generosity to take us to meet them. set up inside the ghetto, literally, the artists range from sculptors to weldsmen to woodworkers. as you enter the area, you notice that people actually live there, too; winding along through the slight corridors, you can peek inside the shacks and see people bathing, cooking, hanging around. there’s colorful graffiti on the walls. you say bon jour and bon soir as you pass. it’s just like any other ‘hood, but everything is crammed tightly into a small space that houses not only people, but collected trash of all sorts as well as the artists’ creations.

at the heart of the movement are three local artists: jean herard celeur, andre eugene, and guyodo. their space is called the ‘e. pluri bus unum’ art museum, and they’re on the web as ‘atis rezistans.’ from the atis rezistans’ web site:

The artists Celeur, Eugène and Guyodo all grew up in this atmosphere of junkyard make-do, survivalist recycling and artistic endeavour. Their powerful sculptural collages of engine manifolds, TV sets, wheel hubcaps and discarded lumber have transformed the detritus of a failing economy into bold, radical and warped sculptures. Their work references their shared African & Haitian cultural heritage, a dystopian sci-fi view of the future and the positive transformative act of assemblage.

that day, i met andre, luoco (another artist in the group), and the infamous guyodo, who flo informed us has unofficially broken ties with the other artists. word has it (or had it, since who knows what is now left of the ghetto) that guyodo is no longer on speaking terms with the others (and/or vice versa), but somehow they manage to keep making art just feet away from one another.

here’s guyodo, who reportedly is never seen without a pair of shades:

the sculptures are unlike any you’ve probably ever seen; one of the first you encounter is this giant:

most of the sculptures resemble odd, alien-like creatures who may have just crawled out of any one of the dried up rivers that are now overflowing with plastic bottles, discarded metal, scraps of aluminum and tin, old tires, auto parts, old food, shit, piss, and everything in between — literally, a haitian dump made into art.

many pieces use human skulls taken from the nearby cemetery and infuse an ironic (or maybe it’s truthful) worship of the penis, sexuality — perhaps fecundity in general — and vodou.

still, there’s a beauty to the inventiveness, resourceful(less)ness that makes your heart feel a prick. it pricks even more when you meet the students. their main man is luoco, a gentle, guiding teacher who ate dinner with us the night before at oloffson; he had a huge plate of pasta and poured hot sauce all over it (i noticed because that’s what i would have done). he’s a member of the collective and instructor; word has it that he did NOT survive the quake. i have no idea if the boys, the work, or the space did either.

here’s luoco and his first student, alex:

as part of a way to explore their art, the world’s reaction, and lack thereof, atis rezistans hosted what came to be known as the ‘ghetto biennale‘ in PAP last year. flo was a part of it with a film project titled, ‘kathy goes to haiti.’ sadly, the truth is that many haitians have to have connections to expats, typically family members or other “important” people, to get visas to leave the country, whether it’s to go to college or exhibit their art. so, the GB hosted an event at home, where haitian artists could actually exhibit; it also served as a place to MAKE art alongside other haitian and international visiting artists. according to their web site, the GB is “the first arts festival located in a shantytown in the developing world. The event will explore what happens when artists from radically different backgrounds come together.”

Posted by: posthaiti | January 22, 2010

what lives

so far, we’ve been overwhelmed by what’s died. i, for one, have spent the past week, albeit sick with flu, walking around in a daze. one night, i ran for 50 minutes on the treadmill, and it felt like 10. i walked home in the cold, dark, NYC night, another 45 minutes. when i entered my dark apartment, i still felt… confused. in a certain sense, mindless. numb. i can’t imagine how the people living through this, especially those with untreated wounds and broken bones, are feeling.

every story i read brings me back to the reality of how bad people have been hurt, and how crushed the city is. crumbling, like the roman ruins; except this downfall happened in less than a minute.

to compound my dis-ease, i am now officially distressed about the huge number of american troops that are being sent — or, should i say deployed — it seems IN LIEU of aid, supplies, and food. at the NYT’s ‘the lede’ blog, it’s been reported that there’ll be 20,000 military peeps there by the weekend.

i have three friends headed down to provide logistics support to medical teams. let’s hope they can actually land at PAP airport, and aren’t diverted for scientologists. ugn. democracy now‘s amy goodman reported today that bottled water is going to the US embassy down there, not to thirsty, dying haitians. what ARE all those troops going to do? and, is their presence worth the food, water, housing, and other services that they’ll need to stay alive while there?

shit gets twisted, especially when people let their ignorance guide them. here’s a superb rundown of some of the facts and fictions about haiti’s people and their “need” for US “aid.”

so, what lives. that’s what i wanted to get to by the end of this post. i have so much to share from my short 10 days there, mostly pictures from the grande rue and jacmel artists. i need to focus on what lives, and so do we all, if we’re going to help in any way to rebuild. more positive posts coming in the next days, including an update on flo, whose remains will (hopefully?) be on US soil by Friday night. in fact, flo’s friends and family have been maintaining an excellent blog tracking flo’s remains and preparing for upcoming memorials. it’s called Going With Flo.

Posted by: posthaiti | January 18, 2010

leogane hit the worst, needs big help

it is with some level of fatigue that i write this, due in part to not being able to keep up with all the news, partly to not being able to continuously process it.

news that has made me feel even more like i was hit by a truck: leogane, the town where i stayed for a week only a few weeks ago, is nearly completely destroyed, with up to 90 percent of its buildings leveled and 20,000-30,000 estimated dead. according to news reports and what yoleine has heard from friends and family in leogane, here’s what’s been hit:

the house i lived in;
the orphanage, home to 1,000s of kids;
the hospital st. croix, which is the only hospital in town;
the awesome, and immense, church right up the street from the house where i was staying;
and i’m sure the list goes on.

there are still only a handful of mainstream media outlets that even mention leogane, including ABC, WSJ, and BBC (a very condemning article, of both the UN and the aid response in general to places outside PAP), which i guess is better than nothing. this one at the Boston Globe, which focuses on a survivor and aid worker, Kara Telesmanick, who has been living in leogane for three years, is touching, informative, and points to practical ways we can help (=donate to the children’s nutrition program of haiti).

i’m not sure how i stumbled upon this excellent, if not tear-jerking, flickr stream of post-quake pics of the city of leogane from a user named carel pedre. i can only hope that the friends i made are safe, unharmed, and away from looting.

in terms of what we can do. donate to the CNP, where kara works. according to their web site, here’s what they need and are doing:

We ask for your financial help in providing medication, food, water, and other essential services for the people in the community of Leogane. While rescue and relief efforts have been focused in Port-au-Prince, our city of Leogane, with 50, 000 souls, has been overlooked.. We will partner with Save the Children and other organizations experienced with severe natural disasters to create an effective recovery program. This week, an emergency medical team, led by Dr. Chris Buresh, a member of the CNP advisory council, will arrive in Leogane to provide emergency medical care with a small field hospital.

yoleine, the woman i lived with and who runs a nonprofit organization called neges foundation, is accepting donations by way of money, food, or physical assistance; she is planning a first trip to leogane in february, so if you want to go with her (you’ll have to buy your own fare, and that’s assuming commercial flights are running by then), be in touch via neges’ web site or email yoleine directly at pyo1@aol.com. and, more on neges’ plans, from its web site:

We, at Neges Foundation Inc, are planning to take a delegation to Haiti as early as February 2010. Our plan is to go set up a shelter for children in Leogane where we can provide them with a place to sleep, a hotmeal and basic medical care until they can relocate their families.

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