Monday, December 27, 2010

When Anniversaries Collide - The Haitian People Sit on the Sidelines

Sports fans in the United States wax ecstatic about the period from mid-October to late November as  because a perfect storm swirls through the sports world.  The boys of summer head through the playoffs into the World Series.  College football players are playing decisive games and their big brothers in the National Football League are starting to eliminate the weaker teams.  By the third week in November, the professional basketball players are finishing three weeks of their six-month season and their younger siblings are playing in holiday basketball tournaments in garden spots like Hawaii and Cancun.

Other contests with a lot more at stake took place in on the second Tuesday in November this year.  Barack Obama suffered the loss of his Democratic Party majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and saw a shaving of the party Senate majority.  Another critical election took place in earthquke-ravaged Haiti on the last Sunday in November, for the office of President.  Unlike the decisive United States results, described by Obama himself as a "shellacking," the outcome in Haiti, delivered amidst less-than-ideal polling conditions and charges of widespread fraud, left virtually no one happy.  The election council deemed that Jude Célestin, the handpicked candidate of incumbent René Préval, and Mirlande Manigat, the wife of former (and deposed) President Leslie Manigat, would face each other in a runoff.  Followers of compas singer Michel ("Sweet Micky") Martelly took to the streets, protesting their candidate's exclusion as another example of the deep-seated corruption endemic to the Haitian political culture.

In the continuing electoral limbo in a country the United States has never been shy about invading and occupying, and manipulating the affairs of,  perhaps not many observers have noted the shadow cast  by the last closely contested U.S.  presidential election.  The Supreme Court decision that awarded the White House to George W. Bush, Bush v. Gore, came down on December 10, 2000, in an act of judicial activism that usurped the jurisdiction of the Florida Supreme Court that was in the process of ruling on a recount of the Florida vote.

Jeffrey Toobin, the New Yorker Magazine legal writer, has noted that, unlike the landmark Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade cases on school segregation and abortion rights, respectively, which produced numerous citations in subsequent cases, Bush v. Gore as a precedent is significant for having produced nothing but a resounding judicial silence. 

In my humble opinion (I'm admittedly neither an expert on Haiti or politics, but I do have a sharp eye for historical irony), what links the two elections is a fear, in some quarters, that a protracted period of electoral indecision opens the door to political and economic instability.  Miami Herald writer Jacqueline Charles' lead from a Dec. 20 news analysis says it all: "In a traumatized nation with a poor history of clean voting, Haiti's recent elections were a disaster waiting to happen."  When I was in Port-au-Prince, I heard that the $9 billion in international aid wouldn't be distributed until after the Nov. 28 election.  U.S. Senator Richard Lugar warned that "political uncertainty" caused by "dueling political candidates" could cost Haiti the reconstruction dollars it so desperately needs.

And what did the "political uncertainty" that hung over Florida and Washington, D.C. threaten a decade ago?  As Toobin points, even former President Bush in his recently released memoir has little to say about the momentous decision that opened the door to his presidency beyond that he felt "relief," something that the Haitian people are getting precious little of.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

60 Minutes: Right on Time

Last week, I blogged about a perceived lack of coverage of Haiti following the outbreak of cholera, Hurricane Tomas sideswiping the island nation, and the continuing misery of 1.3 million displaced persons subsisting in refugee camps in and around Port-au-Prince.

Sunday night, 60 Minutes stepped up with a segment on the status of post-quake Haiti.  The segment, titled "Haiti: Frustration and Anger," was significant in that 60 Minutes is the long-running news magazine and one of the staples of the number one U.S. broadcast network.  According to the TV ratings website,, 60 Minutes took second place to a Fox football broadcast at the 7 PM hour.

Starting out with an interview with the mayor of Carrefour, a town adjacent to Port-au-Prince, Byron Pitts took viewers on an investigation about the slow pace of recovery and the failure of 5 billion dollars in aid to reach people on the ground.  Carrefour is home to a refugee camp on the median of a busy thoroughfare.  The battle to contain the cholera outbreak, rubble removal and reconstruction delays, and the political environment all made it into the story, which ran 12 minutes.

President Bill Clinton and the prime minister of Haiti, Jean-Max Bellerive were the key interviewees.  Given the huge proportion of the population in tent camps, housing is the biggest problem.  The fact that a show with the 12 million viewers of 60 Minutes, a key to CBS ratings success, should draw needed attention to the lack of progress in resolving this and other problems following the tragic disaster in Haiti.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Flooding and Cholera in Haiti Barely Registers in U.S. Media

Last weekend's passage of Hurricane Tomas, left Port-au-Prince relatively unscathed and despite the continuing deadly outbreak of cholera that has reached the capital, stories about the double disaster hardly flooded U.S. broadcast and cable outlets.

I don't mean that networks like ABC didn't carry the stories - both ABC World News with Diane Sawyer and Good Morning America have carried stories over the last 72 hours.  CNN did a story on the links between uncollected garbage that has mushroomed since the earthquake and the cholera epidemic.  CNN also ran a story occasioned by the landfall of Tomas last weekend titled Haiti's trifecta of disaster attempted to provide a context for the persons displaced by the Jan. 12 earthquake.  The story featured an interview with a spokesperson from the Haitian Red Cross who talked about lack of investment in infrastructure and disaster preparation.  She predicted it would take years to make headway against this legacy of neglect.

It is stories last this last one that try to take viewers to a vantage point where they can get a perspective about the swirl of factors that make it hard for outsiders to make sense of what's going on in the hemisphere's first black republic.  These rare stories approach the job done by print and multimedia journalists such as Ansel Herz who details the choice aid groups are forced to make, surveying damage after Tomas while displaced families wait for shelter.

Viola Nicola's flooded tent in Leogane (courtesy Ansel Herz)

While poignant, photos and footage of patients sick with cholera, can't compete with the "disaster porn" of hurricane-driven rain and wind lashing reporters and flood waters washing away shelter.  Ironically, the time bomb of epidemics set in motion by the January earthquake offers a grim opportunity for the spotlight to be turned on the stalled disaster recovery.  Given the glancing blow by Tomas, sensational video didn't emerge from the island nation.  Despite this blip on the radar screen of world attention, it's not clear that even a raging cholera epidemic centered in crowded Port-au-Prince will bring the sustained awareness that could lead to an outcry about the slow pace of solutions being implemented.  

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Other Shoe

It's been two weeks since I returned from Port-au-Prince.  I've been using the term "grim" to describe conditions there.  As the official tropical storm/hurricane season draws to a close next week, the sigh of relief I've been waiting to exhale is on hold.  Instead of a threat from hurricane force winds and flooding and mudslides, the 1.3 million residents of tent camps face a cholera epidemic.

Ansel Herz of Inter Press News reports that heath workers are scrambling to bar cholera from the crowded camps in and around Port-au-Prince.  As of yesterday, at least 160 people have died in the central Artibonite region, according to Zanmi Lasante, the Haitian arm of Partners in Health.

Cholera, a waterborne bacterium, stands to devastate the camps by contaminating the drinking supply.  The Haitian government says that the bacterium can incubate in the human body for days and rapidly cause death by dehydration.  Spokespersons from the Pan American Health Organization said Friday that laboratory tests had confirmed the outbreak.

Acting like generals responding to an invasion by hostile forces, authorities have sped medical personnel to St. Marc, about 70 kilometers north of Port-au-Prince, where a single hospital is overwhelmed with cholera patients.  Villagers from remote areas are sprawled on the floors, intravenous lines in their arms.  In the meantime, patients queue up outside the gates.

In a blog post by Partners in Health Chief Medical Officer Joia Mukherjee called cholera "a disease of poverty" (80 percent of Haitians live in poverty).  She asserted that loans from the Inter-American Development Bank meant for the development of a public water supply in the affected region were blocked on political grounds during the tenure of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The background section of the the PIH website, relates how the "dire" public health situation in recent years was worsened by a U.S.-backed embargo against the elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and then by the coup that drove him from office.  Further, "dismal health outcomes are especially pronounced in Haiti's rural interior, where deforestation, erosion, and lack of infrastructure have crippled the agricultural economy."  The region supports only 10 percent of the population, but they are the poorest people in the nation, a condition that makes them a perfect target for cholera.

The disease is transmitted by drinking water contaminated by the feces of infected persons.  Only ten percent of those drinking such contaminated water come down with the disease.

Back in the capital of Port-au-Prince, Herz reports that it is not clear that prevention measures have been implemented.  Mark Snyder, a development worker with International Action Ties, has not seen "any general information distributed on the streets or in the camps at this time."  Snyder pointed out that the U.N. peacekeepers patrol the streets to provide security, not to supply information.

So, while smaller storms have harassed the camp residents, the feared hurricane season is taking second place to the specter of a cholera epidemic.

What can you do to help?  Organize an event to show solidarity with the Haitian people.  Donate to Partners in Health, or Konpay,, a Haitian organization that "builds networks and collaborations so that technology and expertise can be shared and used to strengthen Haitian solutions to social, environmental and economic problems."

Monday, October 4, 2010

It's All about Translation

At some point, I had to post about language, translation, and meaning.  As some of you recall from an earlier post, I've been reading Rebecca Solnit's compelling book about the socio-political impact of disaster, A Paradise Built in Hell.  Combining, among other disciplines, philosophy, psychology, and the sociology of disaster, Solnit masterfully explains the way disasters, despite the devastation and anguish wrought, can create community, solidarity, and, however, briefly, utopia.   Suffice to say, that the mutual aid and altruism often exhibited during disasters is transformed through initiative into a democratic participation, empowering enough to threaten and even change governments.

The only part of my visit to Haiti more frustrating than the incompetence, tone-deafness, and indifference of the international disaster recovery leadership to the experience of the Haitians on the ground has been my inability to pick up Haitian Creole.

Now some would say that if had been sitting in a classroom five or six hours a day to learn the language of the people of Haiti, I might be functioning pretty adequately now.  The first week I was running around with an NGO and interpreters or speaking English (or Spanish or French).  Given that I had severed my day-to-day ties with the organization whose work induced me to travel to Haiti, the next week I was pondering whether it made any sense to continue my stay, since I no longer had a platform to interact with people who interact with other people in international organizations.  How could I interact directly with the stricken Haitian people or even Haitian activists or NGOs trying to make a difference?

The last week, my third, was one where two American activists I had contacted would be arriving in Haiti.  Both included, if not featured, communication among their skill sets, including fluency in Creole.    At least I had to remain until I had a chance to speak with them, to meet the people behind the websites.  I had been poring through the websites learning about Haitians who were taking matters into their own hands, making decisions, and building the community that would be needed to break through the inertia that has settled over the country like smoke over Port-au-Prince.

What do Rebecca Solnit's take on disaster and activist-advocates and Creole have in common?    In reading an op-ed from Sunday's New York Times, "Found In Translation" by Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours, I learned that while many novelists have been honored to see their works translated into other languages, the novel itself is a translation from the planned book that lives only in the writer's brain to the actual book that winds through a process of cutting, condensation, and compromise before it ends up in print.

The opportunity that many Haitians and their advocates and allies see to build the Haiti that has been deferred since the triumph of the revolution in 1804 involves translation of that idea, updated to 2010, into a reality.  While the symbols of that finished work might include still and moving images, dance and other nonverbal communication, the heavy lifting will be done through words, and those words have to be in Creole.  Unfortunately, I don't know enough Creole to quote poetry, folk wisdom, and even jokes, but I do suspect that a particularly Haitian form of deliberation and democratic participation couldn't occur in translation.  Maybe a kind of Whorfian hypothesis applies here - in a nation that overthrew slavery and colonialism, the language used by the rebels must have been one of the keys to success as it influenced cognitive processes.

 I'm glad that I have essentially finished Paradise (since I'm most of the way through her account of Hurricane Katrina, the last of the disasters Solnit details) in order to translate her point into the work-in-progress that is the earthquake recovery.  And, now I've translating the frustration at the conditions here in Haiti to the patience needed to learn Creole.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It Takes a Disaster to Improve Medical Care in Haiti

I'm from New Orleans and have been studying the city in the five years since Hurricane Katrina hit.  One of the ongoing stories has been about how to restore and improve medical care in Post-Katrina New Orleans.  The immediate aftermath of Katrina saw many potential patients receiving care in the cities to which they had evacuated.  Not so in Haiti, where the doctors have come to the patients.

Two days ago, I went to the field hospital set up by Médecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) to see my housemate, Joris.  This was a hospital without walls, at least the kind that don't flap in a strong thunderstorm like the one that hit the day after my housemate suffered an injured shoulder in a motorcycle accident.  According to the statistics reported in an article last month in the Los Angeles Times, of 20, 000 surgeries from 2001 to 2008 performed by Doctors Without Borders in remote or impoverished areas such as Haiti, only 0.2 percent resulted in fatalities.  This demonstrates that such procedures can be performed in resource-poor regions with little or no technology.

One technological limitation that affected Joris was the absence of an MRI machine.  The MRI could tell doctors about the extent of damage to the meniscus in his shoulder, something the X-ray device available to them couldn't do.  As a result, Joris left Port-au-Prince to return to his country of origin and citizenship, Belgium, for an MRI.  He hopes to be back before the Haitian presidential election in the second half of November.  It is his opinion that medical care is better after the earthquake than it was before January 12.

What if MSF/DWB came to New Orleans?  They did do an assessment soon after Katrina struck the city.  Customarily, they operate in less developed countries such as Haiti, where they have been since 1991.  While Haiti's health care has improved because of their work, New Orleans needs a Lobbyists Without Borders to advocate in the state capital in Baton Rouge for healthcare for people without many resources.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Day After

I came to Haiti in part to pursue a longstanding interest in studying disasters.  I came to Haiti to continue a longstanding interest in studying disaster.  That interest intensified when Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast five years ago with the eye of the storm coming ashore just East of New Orleans.  The ensuing flood covered 80 percent of the city, including the home where my father had lived since Betsy, the last killer storm to target the area.

Post-earthquake Haiti, a new disaster area for me, seems like a replay.  Mid-afternoon on Friday, Port-au-Prince time, I was writing e-mails to my colleagues at my home institution, California Lutheran University, when the wind started to swirl.  My first impulse was to shoot photos, since I hadn't seen it get so dark so fast anywhere else but New Orleans.  I managed to squeeze off a photo when I realized the rain was partnering with le vent.

The second-floor apartment that I share with a Belgian, who sublets it to three Americans, has a wonderful terrace with wrought ironwork that permits breezes to make themselves at home.  This afternoon the guest was a lot more than a breeze, blowing over small flowerpots and causing the two of us who were home to run madly around the apartment closing windows and, more importantly, lashing down a large, blue Katrina-style tarp to the grillwork.  Failure to do so would result in certain flooding of the terrace and the adjoining room.

The wind caused the tarp to flap up over the roof.  I soon determined that a large potted plant had fallen over and trapped the tarp.  I wasn't going up on the roof, which though flat, didn't offer me any shelter from the wind-driven torrents.  Frankly, I wasn't sure that a sudden wind gust wouldn't blow me off the building.  So, I decided to go out on the steps and pull hard on the tarp, bringing the large plant and the pot holding it, crashing to the pavement below.  Now, we could tie the wildly flapping tarp to the ironwork and reduce the rainfall accumulating on the white tiles.

After a half hour, the third American, a freelance journalist, came running up the stairs.  He soon joined his partner and me in mopping up the water.  Small irony: the apartment had just been cleaned and mopped.  As we worked together, he shared that he had passed a camp of persons displaced by the earthquake.  The same wind that bedeviled our attempts to secure the tarp to the terrace made their tents flap in the angry wind.

Now for the worst part: The freelancer told me the government has admitted it has no hurricane evacuation plan for the more than one million residents of the camps.  Less than a week remains in September, which means the Haitians have to endure five more weeks of the hurricane season.  Clearly, strong thunderstorms can add immeasurably to their misery.  I now have a working knowledge of a new disaster in the making on the ground in Haiti.  

Monday, September 20, 2010

Trailers to Tents to T-Shelters

Saturday, I went out with a colleague from Sun Mountain and a construction expert from CHF.  The ride out to Corail-Cesselesse was a cross between demolition derby and Formula One race.  Once at the huge displaced persons camp, I was impressed with the enormity of the community, stretching almost from one horizon to another and to the foot of the deforested hills serving as backdrop.

As I got out of the four-wheel drive vehicles, a virtual necessity on the rough roads in and around Port-au-Prince, my Sun Mountain colleague, a Haitian named Sam, greeted me with the words, "Welcome to Hell."

As we observed the five-year anniversary of Katrina three weeks ago and the nine-month anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti just a little more one ago, I sought to connect the housing issues surrounding Katrina (eviction from destruction of public housing, formaldehyde-laced trailers, uneven neighborhood reconstruction, and Brad Pitt-supported building, often with a green slant) with those I was discovering in Haiti (people living in tents in front of red-marked, unsafe housing, people separated from their neighborhoods in camps in public plazas, the most remote of all, residents of places like Corail, sleeping in half-pipe-Quonset-hut tents to transitional or T-shelters, square houses designed to go up quickly without costing an arm and a leg.)

Time did a story on the displaced persons camps for sixth-month Haiti earthquake anniversary and the New York Times did one on the same topic two days ago with a focus on poignant letters from camp residents to the International Organization for Migration, one of whose vehicles I had ridden in for much of my first week in Haiti.  New Orleans, say hello to your sister city, Port-au-Prince.  Welcome to hell, a place where not enough gets done, at a snail's pace.  Here's one of the Corail photos from the Time magazine article.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Aid Community

Yesterday I got out of the work area Sun Mountain has carved out of the poolside lounge at the Hotel Villa Creole.  Workers from a gamut of organization from the Red Cross on meet, Skype, and make mobile calls around the city and the hemisphere.

The hotel itself, known as HVC by those staying there, carries wounds from the January 12 earthquake and some of the employees live in tents on the grounds.

I went out with Scott, the Sun Mountain director and Hans, one of the team members, to visit a number of organizations, starting with Worldvision, in the process meeting Haitians, Asian Americans, South Asians and Middle Easterners serving as staff.  In some cases, we had appointments and in others we stopped by hoping to catch folks.  Driving around in a vehicle marked IOM, for International Organization for Migration, we saw small SUVs (everyone seemed to be in one) with letters indicating UN (DP or OP),  USAID (US Agency for International Development), CRS (Catholic Relief Services),  CHF (Cooperative Housing Foundation) or the aforementioned Worldvision.

Part of the reason for the trips was for Scott to confirm partnerships for documents being finalized or already completed and also for me to meet some people that I may need to contact for later assignments.

Dinner was structured around discussion of a displaced persons settlement that would incorporate best practices.  The consultation took place mainly between Scott and a representative from the UN supervising the camp development.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bookended by the Media

I started the day by descending the hill to the market from the "compound" (my term for the dwellings behind a very large gate that shelter four households).  My companion was a freelance journalist who was on a mission to find breakfast (le petit dejeuner in French, kolasyon or dejne in Creole)  for his significant other and himself.  He's done work for Free Speech Radio.  On the way Ansel asked me if I had been to Haiti before.  I told him how I had almost bracketed Haiti in travels to Santiago and Guantanamo in Eastern Cuba and to Puerto Rico.

Here's the view from the roof of my apartment building:
  In contrast to the idyllic scene with the sea in the distance, tableaux of dezas, or disaster, begin practically right outside the gate of the compound:
I took my leave of Ansel to start my first run in Haiti.  It's impossible to avoid hills in my neighborhood and it was also impossible to think of the myth of Sisyphus and the Haitian people and the Creole saying I recently read that goes, “Deye mon, gen mon,” "after the mountains, more mountains."  Do I need to stress the point that pushing boulders uphill can get tiring?  My run chock full of hills was nothing.

Tonight,  I've been listening to snippets fo conversations between an NPR reporter and a guest at his table.  On a day of running in the ruins, the media representatives are almost as prevalent in Port-au-Prince as the aid organizations.  More in the next blog.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Working at the Hotel Villa Creole

Riding shotgun with Lemoune, I saw the first displaced persons camp right outside the airport.  Later I would be informed that it was a fairly small one as the camps go.  The heat was blistering, the traffic snarled, and the people were moving with purpose and determination.  No one I could see seemed to be in a state of mourning for the dead or for the death of a way of ife.

I saw political grafitti foretelling the November presidential elections.  I remember seeing Justin Celestin's name.  Cell phone and other billboards proliferated along the road.  PAP is fairly hilly, and when we combined congested traffic, bad roads, and eight month-old rubble, our progress slowed to a crawl.

I recognized that the neighborhood might be where I would stay that night, Christ Roi.  I confirmed that with Lemoune, my driver.  The Hotel Villa Creole is situated in Pétionville, in the verdant hills above PAP.  It turned out to be an oasis that had largely survived the earthquake (more on that in a later post).  I met my new co-workers, co-volunteers (I'm not the only one donating time, but I'm the only professor.).

After reading environmental reports to get up to speed, I rested in the Sun Mountain hotel room (definitely not a suite).  Later, I would spy an article by Amy Wilentz in the Sept. 6 New Yorker about the upcoming elections ("Running in the Ruins")  The piece conveys the color and corruption of Haitian politics and deserves a read, especially for the contrastng portraits of René Préval, the outgoing president who is fond of siestas and rap artist Sweet Micky Martelly, the real Wyclef Jean, an eligible candidate who can reach the people in their favorite language, Haitian Creole.

In PAP, Attention to Detail is De Rigeur

Yesterday I arrived at Toussaint L'Ouverture International Airport.  I was arriving at a Caribbean country not to vacation, not to present and listen to papers at a conference, but to do work as a volunteer for an international NGO, Sun Mountain International.

Despite my noble intentions, the immigration officials were not impressed.  They didn't want to know who Sun Mountain International (SMtn) was, that it was started by an alumnus of California Lutheran University, the university where I teach.  They didn't want to know that SMtn was working with the International Organization for Migration and US Agency for International Development.  They didn't even want to know that I had received a commendation for patience from una abuelita on the overnight flight from LAX to Miami for sitting among her three generation deep family - I got something out of being able to practice my Spanish.

What the immigration officials in Port-au-Prince (PAP) wanted to know was the exact street address in the Christ Roi district where I was going to stay.  My passport confiscated and protests ignored, I was sent packing until I could produce a more detailed address.  After a few seconds, I returned to the immigration supervisor.  Eventually, I wheeled around and suggested that the Hotel Villa Creole was my destination.  Rejected again, I was told to get my taxi driver.  Rolling two duffel bags across a dusty pavement, separated by a chain link fence from a horde of desperate and no doubt hungry kids yelling "Boss" at me, I found Lemoune, who was holding a sign with my first name and the words, "Hotel Villa Creole."  Salvation.  We deposited the bags in his SUV and marched back to the immigration office to secure my passport.  Sweaty and a bit angry, I returned to my appointed task.  Onward, Lemoune.  The devil's in the details.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Getting Ready

I made appointments to get shots and malaria meds for the trip.  I think of the anthropologist who does work in Haiti but felt helpless after the earthquake because he didn't have medical skills to care for the injured.  I wonder how many Haitians don't have access to medical care and public health measures to prevent disease.  This is part of my First World privilege.

The fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina has come and gone.  I recorded a slew of news shows and specials but haven't watched them yet.

I heard about Dominicans helping Haitians.  They share one island and the disaster brought them together.

Last, I'm reading the incredible book, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster by Rebecca Solnit.  The essayist and social critic wrote the book before the horrors of the January earthquake in Haiti, but the response of the people makes her point, that people don't turn on each other in dire circumstances, but engage in community, solidarity, and agency.

Friday, August 27, 2010

From New Orleans to Port-au-Prince

In two more days, many of us, especially those of us connected to New Orleans, will observe the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  Will we be forever changed by the anniversary?  It's hard to say.  Were we changed by the hurricane and flooding of the cultural heart of the U.S.?  You better believe it.

In a little more than two weeks, this adopted son of New Orleans will head to Port-au-Prince.  The idea is to work with Sun Mountain International, an NGO that does work in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa.  I'm still trying to arrange lodging as I hear Katrina anniversary news stories about the housing shortage in New Orleans.  What will I see in the capital of Haiti?  How much rubble and debris will line or even block the streets?  Are people in Haiti too preoccupied with daily survival to mark dates?  I know they are a nation attuned to history, their national history, their history of origin in rebellion and struggle for freedom.

What does the future signify for them?  Again is the quotidian struggle a mountain that rises between the people and the prospect of the future?  Port-au-Prince and New Orleans are sister cities?  How many residents of Port-au-Prince know that?  Will I serve as a reminder for the few people with whom I come into contact?