If you’re in town, come over to Tonic tonight to check out some photographs and have a few drinks. We’ll be getting started around 7:30 p.m. and I’m hanging photos from Haiti, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Spain, Jordan, and Virginia.
All photographs are for sale and all proceeds from the Haiti series will be donated to Fonkoze, a Haitian non-profit organization working on the earthquake recovery.
People joke that Haiti is where school buses come to die. Same with Mack trucks. And t-shirts. And a lot of other things. This moment reminded me of emergency exit practice in the back parking lot of Central School.
It’s hard to see in the photo but this kid’s Scooby-Doo shirt would probably fetch a nice price at a vintage shop in DC. The woman at rear is collecting water from a drainage ditch — water that had spilled from a water truck down the block.
I spent Friday morning down in Cite Soleil. Accompanied by a colleague who has spent years working in the community, it was immediately clear that Cite Soleil is different. Generally regarded as the most impoverished commune in greater Port-au-Prince, Cite Soleil is home to hundreds of thousands of Haitians living on the edge.
Ever seen City of God? From an (enthusiastic) article on Wikipedia:
The neighborhood, originally designed to house manual laborers for a local Export Processing Zone (EPZ), quickly became home to squatters from around the countryside looking for work in the newly constructed factories. After a 1991 coup d’état deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a boycott of Haitian products closed the EPZ. Cité Soleil was soon thrust into extreme poverty and persistent unemployment, with high rates of illiteracy.
Armed gangs roam the streets. Murder, rape, kidnapping, looting, and shootings are common as every few blocks is controlled by one of more than 30 armed factions. The area has been called a “microcosm of all the ills in Haitian society: endemic unemployment, illiteracy, non-existent public services, insanitary conditions, rampant crime and armed violence.”
US Army scouts are currently conducting foot patrols in the neighborhood to provide security to food distributions and a couple guys I met said that it has been very quiet lately. But they’ll be pulling out in a few weeks and apparently turn the area over to Jordanian troops.
I’ll post more pictures in the coming days. For now, this little character. She followed me around, refusing to take her little fingers off my leg.
The post title? Inspired by this (Vermonter’s) song.