Haiti, 2 years after the earthquake

Creole is the real language of HAITI, and it is necessary to understand and speak it to make any real contact with people. Luckily, someone lent me a Creole/Spanish textbook from the Dominican Republic, the neighbouring country. I found it very heavy going for the first few days, but it has got a bit easier now. I can understand about 90% of written Creole, but only 50% of the spoken language. Fortunately, I had two nurses with me who could help me to understand the patients who came to me. Most of them were not suffering from anything serious, and as I had been able to bring 20kg of the most essential medicines, I had what I needed.

I did very little work in the health service; the hospital is well staffed by members of the International Brigades. I had a fascinating time during which I made real human contact not just with patients, but also with families living in tents (of which there are about a million in Port au Prince). The scale of the tragedy is glaringly obvious: houses are 'squashed' as they say here - in other words they have collapsed, with most of their residents still under the rubble. a vast expanse of tents -and also of hopea vast expanse of tents -and also of hope

The earthquake has left an imprint of suffering and death before which one feels both awed and powerless. In the hospital the children sometimes have amputated limbs, and are often orphans, and they cling to you and give you a very bad conscience because in fact there is nothing that you can really do to alleviate their distress. I think that people's salvation, and what currently prevents them from succumbing to drugs or depression, is a kind of deep inner joy, their faith in God and a will to live as befits a people who were uprooted from their countries of origin and brought here to grow sugar cane. Faith - a foolish preacher in the USA had the nerve to maintain that the earthquake was divine retribution. People reacted to this idea virtually with one voice: over and over again I heard them say that it was a natural disaster, which had struck a country with poorly built buildings.

Children have an incredible capacity for laughing and smiling in all circumstances. About 7 p.m. one evening, we were on our way back to the hospital with an Argentinean friend, at a time when there is normally not a single white person to be seen in the streets. We suddenly found ourselves surrounded by a small group of six or seven boys aged 10 to 12, who jumped about, danced round us and sang through peals of giggles: “Nou pa pe, nou pa pe” (= nous pas peur, you don't scare us!). The more our Argentinean friend pulled faces at them and roared like a lion, the more they laughed and sang, with the adults all round cheerfully laughing with them.
Children have an incredible capacity to laugh and smile

MiguelMiguelI am now in the outer suburbs, working for some tent providers for a week. We have been able to obtain a fair quantity of medicine, thanks to the Dominican Republic Association of Religious Organisations, which is close at hand and very obliging. Many people are suffering from scabies and anemia.
There is no shortage of food here, but there are camps right in the centre where nothing at all has been distributed. Is this to encourage people to go to the provinces and thus relieve pressure on the capital? Most people don't seem to have any trust in the Government, and the state is criminally indifferent to anything like health or education.