Thursday, March 03, 2005

Where the violence is

So I'm trying to explain Haiti to someone who's never been there and was asking about visiting Cite Soleil. The poverty is there. We need to go where the poverty is.

Yes, but the violence is there as well. You can't help the poor if you are dead.

I realized then how very aged I feel after doing this kind of work for more than 11 years. Eleven years of visiting slums, helping the poor, seeing gut-wrenching suffering. I'm jaded and cynical, and trying to explain poverty/politics/etc. to someone who's never visited a country like Haiti is challenging. Because where do I start?
On this trip we'll be visiting a hospital where most of the doctors left because they weren't paid their $171 monthly salary for months; there is no medicine, no supplies like sterile gloves, no blankets for the beds, a baby died because the hospital had no oxygen and the patients pray and moan and weep in their beds because there is little the remaining medical staff can do, and sometimes they just die.

It's not a nice place to visit. C told us, "I hate you. That place is awful. Why are you making me go there?"

I told her, "Because that's our job. I know you hate us. Because we always drag you to the icky places."

And that is our job. Visiting the icky places. Seeing the worst of the worst and trying to frame it in heartwrenching photos and stories so we can raise money and make those places not quite so icky.

No wonder I write romance novels. I honestly doubt that the worst thing I can write about, the darkest moments of the human soul and there are plenty of those in Rashid's story, will never match what I've witnessed in real life.

Long live romance novels. Sounds weird to say it, but hell, those HEA moments keep me balanced. Because in real life, the HEA doesn't always happen. Especially in Haiti.


McVane said...

So you'll keep on writing romances, after all?Writing romances and making things right in real life makes a tough balance, but good in a for-the-sake-of-my-sanity way. :) Cheers, Bonnie! :)

Bonnie Vanak said...

Thanks, Màili. Yes, I'm still going to write. I can't NOT write. It's like not breathing. And any way I can grab that balance in life, I will!