By Heather O.
Haiti is not what you would call the safest place on the planet. In fact, I was told yesterday that the most dangerous city in the Western Hemisphere is here in Haiti. I haven’t been there, but I think I’ll pass, thanks.
One of the best things about Sustain Haiti is that they have gone to great lengths to keep us safe. We are living in a house with a fence around it that is locked every night. Of course there is always a chance somebody could climb the fence, but the house is also locked, all with padlocks. At night, even though it seems like this city never sleeps, I feel safe.
Our every day needs are also taken care of, and taken care of well, or as well as can be expected ( and in my case, better than expected). We have cooks who make our meals 3 times a day, so our food is safe AND delicious. We have cleaning women who come and sweep and mop the floor twice a day, and we even have a laundry woman who comes and cleans our clothes. I’m not sure if the other volunteers, students mostly, fully appreciate the herculean effort it must have taken by Sustain Haiti to pull this off. We have rules about going off alone, too, and women are not permitted to go anywhere without a male escort. This isn’t chauvenistic, it’s just a solution to the reality that white women aren’t safe in Haiti. The result is that we have not been accosted or abused. No mean feat.
I have more to write, mostly more about Haitian economics–I learned that the cash for work program, where NGOs pay Haitians to work rebuilding homes and moving rubble, etc, pays them 200 gourd a week, or roughly $1 a day. Things are cheap here in Haiti, but not that cheap. Just ask Junior, who lost his job when his company collapsed, who lost his house when his home collapsed, who is trying to support his wife and 2 children on a work program that will end this week, and is currently living in a tent city. When I asked him what he is going to do, he shrugged and said that he will wait, work, and save, little by little. Earning $5 a week, he’s going to have to wait a long, long time.
I made a comment to Rony, our country director, about why if Junior has a family, did he hang out with us so much? Rony asked if I would want to be around my children if they were crying for milk, knowing that I had nothing to give them. I went to my room and wept.
Today we are building another garden, the 6th one we’ve built since I’ve been here. I hope these gardens work. Oh how I hope they work.
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