a sight that reduces me to tears
I recently wrote about having been desensitized when facing poverty. I have hung out in slum areas across India and seen some sights around Bogotá where no Gringo has travelled.
Most afternoons i walk the streets of Carrefour, about 20 minutes west of the city center, with Jean – Luc for company.
Like much of Port au Prince, this area was devastated by the 12 January Earthquake. Piles of rubble are scattered on every street waiting to be cleared away. No-one wants to take responsibility for it and almost 3 months on, nothing has been done about it.
Many have never seen a “white” man before in person and i seem to have celebrity status in the ´hood. English is often limited to “YOU!” which is shouted out as we wonder the streets. I have also been most welcome at the local church/school, and the Pastor is always keen to crack open a cold one for me.
Even the children at the orphanage struggle with Aubrey, and no thanks to Wilkens, call me "You Good" which brings a cringe every time.
Tent communities are now well established and life continues. People try and eek out a living as best they can.
Walking round Carrefour with JL a few days ago, i end up in tears. The poverty is all-consuming. India has many slums dotted over the country and conditions are really tough, but this is just too much for me. We stand in front of a yet another destroyed house and mixed in the pile of debris is even larger with garbage and all kinds of human waste. Myriad flies swarm around and not for the first time I worry about my own and others´ personal health in the vicinity.
I ask JL why he wants to stay here and just laughs at me. I invite him to be adopted by Ma and Pa in Watford, UK, thanks me for the offer and says he is here for the long term. Clearly upset by my distress however, he cracks open a bottle of 7Up on our return to the orphanage.
Maybe i have been here too long. Tomorrow it´s time for something completely different. It is a sad farewell to my new friends and family at the orphanage as i head back to the Dominican Republic for a school inspection in Santo Domingo. Again i find myself heading from the sublime to the ridiculous. From sharing a water-sodden tent with WIlkens on the building site that is the orphanage, to the Hotel Occidental Embajador.
They have invited me to stay on here at the orphanage, but it is time to move on, for my own sanity if nothing else. But i have a new family in Haiti now, and i know i will return for a visit. I will continue to look for support for the orphanage and i am now full committed to the SEED project in Cité Soleil - something that could put an end to the degradation of one of the poorest communities on the planet.
yet more collapsed buildings in Carrefour