- Category: International
- Created on Tuesday, 26 January 2010 18:43
- Written by Jean Baptist
We have received the following by phone from Haiti. Our translator could not hold back her tears as she worked. (We posted a previous few precious minutes from haiti.)
By Jean Baptist (a brother who is with you in struggle) Today I stand on the pile of what used to be my home.
The mound of debris is higher than that of the house which still partially stands next door to me. The roof that covered my apartment and the store below us has fallen so that it slants onto what is left of my neighbor’s house. If I stand on the peak I can look in the distance to the airport. And that’s where I see it.
It is huge and white and winks in the sun. It covers a large area at the end of the airport runway. I look at it and I cannot help but cry!
It is boxes and boxes, pallets upon pallets, all wrapped in plastic to protect from the weather. Inside these packages you will find boxes of medication, bags of IV fluid, baby formula, tents, bottled water, cooking pots, wheel barrows and all the other supplies that we need to live, to dig out those whose bodies remain trapped, and to remake our lives. It is the goods that we need to survive, it is that which will keep us alive.
I squint my eyes and I see it there, across the runway. It sits there, untouched, unused and inaccessible.
Meanwhile next door the 86-year-old mother of my neighbor is dying. She has a diabetic problem with the sugar in her blood and needs both medicine and food. Without it she will surely die. She lies on a bed of cardboard in the shade and is no longer able to speak with reason.
It is not our way to prepare for death while the living are still among us, but already my neighbor has come to me to discuss his options. Where will he bury his mother? Who among us can oversee the funeral? Where can we find a shovel?
On the radio a man from one NGO describes trying to get supplies from the airport. He is not allowed in, because he is Haitian, while a foreigner is able to enter the airport on his behalf. The foreigner returns to the barrier to tell this man that yes, there are a lot of supplies, but no, they cannot be given to him because they are only for projects run by a particular international aid group. He implores the foreigner, please go back and try again! People are dying! We need medication for our clinic!
The foreigner returns a few moments later to apologize: the NGO will need to send an English-speaking representative to the airport with a specific lot number in order to access supplies. He turns away, dejected, and rhetorically asks the radio audience, “Why have they come to our country, these foreigners? What exactly are they doing here?”
I too have such questions.
What are the foreigners doing here and why do they come as soldiers with guns?
I am suspicious of their motivations because they have not come with good intentions in the past.
At one time the United States marines came and stayed for many years, conscripting our young men into forced labor brigades to build a highway. Again, the United States came in 1994 but they did nothing to stop those who committed atrocities on the people, instead, the United States military stood by while those who tortured and raped us packed up their belongings and flew off to a life in gilded exile. And again, in 2004 the United States marines came with trigger-happy fingers, shooting into the corridors of the popular zones and killing people with sophisticated weapons from the air.
On the radio the United States military commander says he is here to help us. But myself, I cannot believe those words. His words are like pathetic bleating of the goat and I tune it out because I know that those words are not true.
Why do I know this?
Because when I stand on rubble of my home I look in the distance. I see the pallets of water, the pallets of food, the pallets of medication, the pallets of supplies. The sun shines on the plastic and it blinds me, but I still see. I see everything so very clearly.