Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Talkin' Turkey in the mountains of Haiti

A day in the life of the lakou-a

Nelson chases the family pet, yon dindon while I fumble with the camera.  They have a wild chase around the expanse of lakou - and I had wondered why the earth around the home was so neatly swept... Ahhh, I understood: clearing away dindon droppings!
Chasing yon dindon 
I found the chase around the lakou exhilirating and funny.  Nelson laughing all the while running after Big Bird.  The smile!
Roosevelt and the other boys look on as Nelson grins and shows his prowess -
and that ain't all...
Ride 'em
Nelson will grip Big Bird between his legs and ride him like a hobby horse! The children are playing, horsing around - ahem - and challenging anyone else to outdo Nelson's antics.  There is a gaggle of girls and boys now, the boys sporting newly shaven heads (lice?  Grooming?  Church?).  A few wear sandals, most wear garish combinations of pepe - old well-worn t-shirts, (where? by who?) some with Disney characters, stripes with plaid or floral.

I bring out a bag of colored rubber bands and we play rubber band races.  Malaki teaches me, explaining the rules, while holding onto his machete with one hand, tossing a ribber band with the other.  Gosh, I sure don't want to mess with Malaki.  
Machete tucked in his underarm
Later, Roosevelt serves up a pot of red rice -- rice with a tomato Maggi cube thrown in.  The girls and a baby pile up on one bed with bowls and spoons to share.  Laundry is helter skelter on the other bed.  Kids are busy eating, scraping their bowls.  The baby manages well on her own, miraculously.  Nelson is cheerful, quiet, eating.

No one (else) seems to be in charge. 

All will wait.  We are a bouillon cube away from red rice - lunch.  Dinner.  Both?.

I wonder about the laundry, shirts and skirts, T-shirts lumped in a pile. 

Later, much later, a voisin, a close neighbor on Mon Bouton, shares with me that Nelson and his siblings lost their mother a month ago.  She, Viviane, had been a peddler of banane - to and from the capital, frequently. From lavil, she came home sick, returning to die. 

She was the one cholera death here in the mountains.   There were not many.  I am not sure who is counting, but that is what I was told.

In this way, Haiti happened...and happened to me.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Boy Next Door

Meet Watklif. Yup, nothing new under the sun. He could be the poster child for Darfur, Somalia, the you name the place malnourished child.

I know him. (So do you.)

Squatting there, watching him, “Why am I taking his picture?” I took it anyway, and a few others, then a short video clip. Objectifying him.

Not that I haven’t seen him and thousands others over the 8 summers and then some tthat I have spent in Haiti, agonizing over Haiti, agonizing with Haiti, living , among the farmers in remote mlountains.

Watklif is the boy next door; he’s Toma’s grand nephew or something. A grandson of Madama Karolis. 
Last summer he was the ugliest toddler, all large head, covered with scabs, flea bites. Now, he is an ugly child of maybe 3 or so. 

Nobody much knows or cares.

Suddenly, I do.

Will you?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Today's blog offers the schematics and assembly instructions for Solar Powered Water Pumps.  Please leave us comments, and we'll get back to you - hope you might join us for the installation?  Thanks.







And, here is the powerpoint, presented at the Haitian Studies Association Conference, NY, 2012, with some video footage in hyperlinks, and 4 min. music video with update, "Where we stand now" at the end.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Can I stay the tears of others?

I can stay the tears of others, if...

"I can stay the tear of others, if I can see myself as diminished of their sorrows.
I can hasten time when everyone will be able to rejoice in freedom." 
(Poem/text by Jewish Fund for Justice)

And if I can see myself as the companion...
And if I can see myself as the companion, of those fighting oppression,

I can honor the struggle of people everywhere
to gain dignity and deliverance from bondage.

I can honor the struggle...

"When I look in the mirror
who will I see?" 

When I look in the mirror...
Who will I see?

(This last, a photo montage by Amir Dread)