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?