Thursday, January 14, 2010


There simply aren't words when such huge disasters happen, are there? The only way I can begin to manage to think about it is to go small, and picture my own neighbourhood, the people I see daily, the trees, buildings, cars, pets, everything, smashed flat. And that would have to be layered onto a daily situation so tenuous that I wonder how I would even come up with the will to go on.

I was "in" Haiti in November. I put "in" into quotation marks because the tiny, exquisite area we enjoyed bears no resemblance to the real Haiti. It was a private compound, quiet, unspoiled, safe and beautiful, made especially for the enjoyment of the privileged tourist. We swam in a warm, jewel-like bay and napped under palms, listening to the waves. Last night we both teared up, remembering a young Haitian worker who shyly asked us if we'd buy a little bracelet as a souvenir of Haiti. Because the compound required no money for anything we wanted we hadn't brought a cent ashore with us and apologized when we told him so. I wish we could have.

There is a certain guilt for me wound up in the process of being a tourist in a poor country. I know/hope the money I spend is getting into the economy, somehow, but I always do have a little niggling feeling of guilt.

In Miami we had a cab driver who was Haitian , and knew we were Canadian from our accents. He had grown up in a Canadian-run mission, and a Canadian organization had arranged for his infant son to be flown to Montreal to have a cleft palate repaired. Perhaps this meant he vented to us a bit, he was quite angry and frustrated at the amount of corruption in his home country. "The money comes in", he said "but it doesn't go where it should. A person will have a job and he makes sure some money goes to his friend, his family, his other friend. It is rotten at the top".

Maybe if one good thing could possibly come out of this disaster, it would be to see that aid and money goes to the people who need it. Perhaps with the eyes of the world turned on Haiti things will change.

Red Cross
Medecins Sans Frontiers

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