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In Solidarity

January 20, 2010

Sasha from SOIL

It’s 10:24 am and I am sitting in Richard Morse’s office at the Olofsson hotel.  I’m glued to the computer and want to get information out and coordinate with people because power and internet is scarce.  We had another earthquake today, a 6.1 earthquake.  It was at about 6am and I was sleeping outside the hotel, like we have all been doing, and I woke up during that time because I felt the shaking but was so exhausted I didnt even recognize it in the moment.  The after shocks are subtle and some are tremors.  The latter shake you, and the former rock you as if you were in the earth’s cradle.

I went to see Sasha from SOIL at Park Antoine Izmery in Delmas 33 yesterday.  They have a medical camp set up there that is organized and it is also the site where her amputation post, Kouraj Cherie, occurred.  I met other Haitians, one named Mateo who left his job and came from Cap Haitian to help out in PAP for a few days.  We all embraced and shared stories about the “old city” and how if you never knew it, you would never know it again.  It feels so good to see a familiar face out here.  You see so many dead bodies all around, hurt people, and other things that no one should ever see in their life that at times you forget what life was like before.  In Richard’s office I turned on my itunes last night while we all worked to purge the most out of the internet while we had it.  We had all forgotten that music existed.  Sasha, Mateo and I smiled, laughed told stories.  Mateo took me back to the hotel and drove me around to see the areas I have not been able to reach by foot and the devastation and rubble was continuous. We talked about Haiti and how it was so deep in our hearts and how so many people, Haitian people have been compassionate and loving.

We talked about the camion drivers and how they just have been giving people a lift without asking for money.  Mind you, gas is about 16 American dollars here on the street.  We talked about the street vendors and how if our country did not have them, most people would have empty bellies while waiting for aid.  The street vendors, most of them, have not changed their prices, and so many have access to food (assuming they have any money at all).  We talked about our own uncertainty, especially mine because I picked up and just came over leaving security in New York.  All of us were appreciative of our jobs and families back home and the support that they have given us to do what we need to do.

Since I have been in Haiti there have been no tears.  In NY I was a walking zombie and constantly distraught and convulsing with tears.  Here I am a Haitian.  I am working to clean this up.  I am working to save lives.  I am inspired by our Haitian people who have, for the most part, been the rescuers and the first responders.  I am the neighbors digging their neighbors bodies out of the rubble with hammers and metal from the fallen homes.  I am the principal that I met, who along with the community went into the Lycee Carrefour Feuilles and pulled out the dead bodies of their students.  I am the people that sleep on the streets and share food and water with one another so that they can make it.  I am the people that pray and sing at night and patiently wait.  We are devastated, and we are community.  We have experienced trauma, and we also know surviving and working together is the priority.  Haitians should feel honored to be Haitian right now.  We are “third world,” “poorest country…”and stigmatized as being dangerous, almost savage people, and we are all IN SOLIDARITY.

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