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.
Living in Haiti? Want to be a cool cat? I’d recommend getting a Zongshen 125, pimping it out with some chrome, picking out one of those USG-distributed wind-up radios, throwing in the headphones, and then chilling.
All around town I see cars that were totally destroyed by the earthquake. Many of the cars are upside down, smashed beyond recognition, or poking out from under a pancaked building. It is difficult to imagine the force required to crush an SUV.
We often see cars on the road – driving – that were heavily damaged by falling buildings and debris. I’ve seen cars with no windshields, cars with roofs crushed like aluminum foil, massively dented cars missing whole body panels and doors. Half the time the streets look like a demolition derby.
This poor guy was trying in vain to retrieve pieces of the V6 engine from his destroyed Acura.