About five years ago we summed up all the courage we could find and took ourselves off to Haiti.
No land signifies for us more the unfairness and discrimination that politics and political processes can inflict on innocent human beings than Haiti.
A land held in poverty because that suits those who posses the power.
But we didn’t go there on a crusade, we went to learn more about Haitians and their culture/history
And an important figure was Patrick.
Patrick sort of hung around our guest house, taught the Canadian staff Creole – and generally hung around.
You don’t get may tourists in Haiti.
But we were there, and we hung out with Patrick.
He tried to smuggle us into the main jail and took us on a tour of the main hospital – the images of blood stained individuals too poor to pay for treatment sitting on the bare concrete floor will never leave us – together we blagged our way into the UN HQ, we persuaded the priest to let us into the locked cathedral, we speed through the slums on the back of motor-bike taxis and generally amused the locals by being white in Port-au-Prince and travelling in tap-taps
“Hay Blanco!”, ringing out wherever anyone wanted to sell us something.
And we got lost… a lot
For like all Haitians Patrick can’t admit when he doesn’t know something
But in a way getting lost was the most educational bit. Wandering through the depths of the slums precariously poised on the steep slopes above Port-au-Prince. Our routes took us along passageways half-a-person wide, forced us to jump torrents because the bridges had collapsed and wade through knee high mud. And brought us into contact with more Haitians than your average US Senate committe has met in the last 50 years.
We genuinely don’t believe those parts of Port-au-Prince where we had our best times still exist.
But we do know the Haitians will rebuild them.
Above all we hope that the international community, and for all Obama, see the earthquake as a chance to give Haiti a chance; to scrap the ridiculous debts, to give them their agriculture back, and free them from the shackles of a senseless global economy they simply aren’t part of but which defines the daily life of everyone in the land.
And we hope that Patrick’s OK….
We’re with you mate…. and still genuinely grateful for everything.