Thursday, February 11, 2010


Yesterday Gordon and I drove through Cite-Soleil while we were en route to Leogane, a city about an hour outside Port-au-Prince that was hit as hard by the earthquake as PAP was. The two main hospitals in Leogane have collapsed so we were there trying to find out where people were going to get medical services. Essentially, the nursing school in Leogane has turned into the hospital for the city, which is a slightly scary thought as these nurses come into the school with no medical knowledge and are now seeing patients on a daily basis.

But what was more devastating seeing than that, was seeing Cite-Soliel, the largest slum in the Northern Hemisphere. This tent city was set-up to house laborers in the 1990s and has turned into a slum of over 300,000 people. There is no clean water, electricity, or sewage system and police haven't been able to patrol it in years due to the armed gangs. Life expectancy is 50 for people living there.

Cite-Soleil was one of the most alarming sights I've seen since I've been here and they were hardly even affected by the earthquake. Because there weren't many concrete structures in this area to begin with, most people in the city survived the earthquake and are now receiving the much needed aid alongside those who were affected. In fact, as we were driving through, USAID was doing a food distribution and they clearly did not have enough security as a massive fight broke out between a group of women trying to get their share of the food.

As we've been driving through this earthquake-affected area of Haiti, I keep find myself wondering what things looked like before. Obviously the rubble and collapsed buildings are new, but some people have always been living outside in these squalid conditions. The difference is that the world hasn't been paying any attention to it until this happened. It's sad to think that it took something this devastating for us all to realize something equally as devastating may have already existed.

It also makes you think about these foreign, usually missionary groups, who are coming over looking to adopt or bring children back to orphanages in another country. Obviously the group who tried to do it without any paperwork and are now in Haitian jail made the wrong decision. (On a side note, the thought of spending 9 years in a Haitian jail makes makes me feel kind of queasy). But I'm not sure that their intentions were bad or they were doing anything malicious. Bringing an orphan (or even a child with a parent who has made the unimaginable decision to send them away for something better) out of a place like Cite-Soleil to give them a better shot at life cannot be intrinsically bad. Exploiting the situation by coming down here to adopt a child now that the country is in chaos is the wrong way to do it but the end result may be the same.

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