The way most people get around in Haiti is by these colorful buses that Iwant to call jitneys. If I can get my camera to load onto my blog, I'll get some pictures up. The buses are pick up trucks with canopies and no rear gate. People just jump onto them from the back even as they are moving along (which is easy since traffic is always bumper to bumper). They are always crammed with people and easily have 10 more people than there is room for. They are brightly painted and have all kinds of names painted on the back of the top of the truck like "Merci bon dieu". I read that and thought they were thankful to their good God who gets them through their suffering- now I wonder if they are asking God to get them through the ride alive. Other names of the buses: Pere eternale, Fils aime, Merci Jesus, Don de Dieu, Le Main Divine, Christ capable, Grace de Dieu, La roche (rock), , Dieu d'amour. There are tiny shacks that sell their own lotteries called Onge Dieu (angel of God) 3 for 2. Steve says everyone buys these lottery tickets hoping to win. Other names of businesses: God Bless. Us Depot, and Jesus Roi Boutique. A very long day today and would have wished to be at the camps more. However the work to find other Haitians who might want to receive some training to do this work is a big part of our task to empower them help themselves.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
This was a very different day as our job this next two days is to visit partner Haitian and international ngo's to see who is available here to provide psychosocial services to the older people Helpage serves in the camps. It was a trying day being driven for hours through Carrefour, a teeming , insanely crowded urban area, the likes of which I imagine in India. The ghetto there has been there since the 90's we are told. I thought the camps were difficult until I saw this- horrific congestion, filth, tiny cardboard boxes for shacks stacked one next to the other, not a tree in sight and the sides of the road filled with people selling their wares- sodas , pure sugar drinks, candy, purses, cell phones, phone cards, chargers (people may be going hungry, but many have cell phones), old clothes, plantains and mangoes. We would drive for hours through bumper to bumper traffic and then not be able to find the place we were supposed to go, or find that the person we were supposed to meet was called out on an emergency. This is Haiti. One Haitian ngo was actually pretty organized and has been a strong and valuable partner to Helpage. The other one was much less developed. We finally found them in a hole in the wall, which looked like they were trying to look as professional as possible for our visit. In talking with them though they seem to be very connected to the older people in the camps and motivated to offer them group activities as they have this last 7 months. They worked with Helpage to take the older people out of the camps on a day trip to the beach. I had heard someone talk about this as "psychosocial lite" and at first wasn't that impressed by it, but now talking with folks down here see that this is the first time most have ever had a vacation away from their very severe congested living circumstances, and it is a very big deal. No wonder a lady in the camp yesterday said she felt she had been treated like a queen.