Friday, 27 January 2012
27th January Haiti
It's 0535 and I am awake, sat out on a balcony of the hostel at which I am staying. A combination of time differences and an icy blast from the shower mean I am wide awake. Just outside the gate I hear voices; men going to work joking with the security guards. Every now and then their conversations are interrupted bythe hum of a UN turbo diesel. Cocks crow, and dogs bark as dawn struggles to break through. Already I can see the vaguest hint at a rosy glow across the valley as the sun hides itself just beyond the horizon. All is peaceful. The peace in Haiti has struck me this time. I was here in both 2010 and 2011 and there was always angst. There was an attritional, grinding angst that was energy sapping; every traffic jam was an opportunity for aggression and hatred to spill out, yet somehow now we feel closer to that Caribbean caricature of easiness. I say this against a back drop of a former colleague, Big Dave, having been shot in the stomach in a bank robbery on the day I arrived. Big Dave had committed two years of his life to helping Haiti and whilst I only met him once face to face in 2010 he was often at the other end of the phone helping out, the way logisticians do.... The trade in favours among not for profit loggies is a strong market in any economic climate. The last I have heard is that Dave ran 2 blocks to the hospital he has served these last 2 years and was operated on successfully and is to be moved to the US for further care. My thoughts and prayers stay with him and his wife. I can't however become negative about Haiti. So much of the media has focused on what is not being done here: money not being spent, rubble not being moved, jobs not being created but it is a look at the negative half of the equation. Yesterday on the drive to Mirbalais I saw comparatively little rubble compared to my visit in 2011, every now and again an empty plot or a partially demolished house would tell you of the calamity that befell Port au Prince in January 2010. I am not saying there isn't huge work to be done, I am saying huge work is being done. As I sit here now the rosy glow has broken over the hilltops across the plain on which Port au Prince sits. The barking dogs are now accompanied by a church bell. The sun is rising on Haiti not just today but in general. Some say it is exhaustion and two years of death and pestilence that have brought this new peace to Haiti. That makes no sense to me, my experience of wars and civil strife has taught me that such things rarely tire. I get the feeling hope has broken out, maybe be cause Michel Martelly, arguably the people's candidate, got into power they feel they have a voice. Hope is more powerful than the dollar when it comes to reconstruction. I saw that in Delmas 32; about a mile from where I sit. Back in 2010 JPHRO made a commitment to clear a neighbourhood. I remember walking through 20ft piles of rubble with Phil, the JPHRO engineer, and realising the only thing you could do was start, bucket load by bucket load. It developed into one of the most successful program's I have seen, most notably because the community leapt into action to help and improve the JPHRO system. Hope sprang forth and people started to clear their own plots. I understand the need to address corruption, complacency and mismanagement but I think to focus on the negative dishonours those like Big Dave who pour their lives out here and elsewhere in the world. I want to focus on hope, the JPHRO rubble clearing, PIH's Mirbalais hospital and countless other projects that are making a difference but most notably the peace that Haitian hope is brining.