Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Pa pipi la!

Calm this week. Well, for the moment. Back in Haiti, PAP, after working in Cap for a couple of days. Yesterday we drove to a congested slum where we had interviewed people about their water needs, drinking polluted water, their kids getting sick, etc. Pere brought soccer balls to distribute. He stopped the truck and everyone comes running, all these kids, a swarm like bees buzzing straight for us. Even the dogs. It was too crazy, we had to literally take off, the kids chasing us through the slum, yelling after us. Some of them chased us for at least a mile.

Kids chasing us for a mile for a soccer ball. Because they are that desperate.

I took a cold shower yesterday morning, shivering because there was no hot water at the hotel. and then I interviewed women who told me how they sob because they can't afford fuel to boil water to make it safe for their kids. They have to give them polluted water and the children get ill and are hospitalized. It made that cold shower seem a hellava lot warmer.

Outwardly, seems like the same Haiti, calm, streets bustling, no violence. But hostility simmers below the surface. People who once smiled do not, women shout out rude things in Creole about us "blancs" being there. And yet we visited with some people who are the same, friendly, talkative, like the old Haiti I once knew. Then we flew back to PAP and took the long route to the hotel to avoid a protest march. It's a holiday but there's a protest, as usual. Just don't want to get into the middle of any flying bullets.

Yesterday as we are driving along the streets, I saw spray painted in red in Creole on a white wall the words Pa Pipi La, SVP! In short, it said, "don't piss here, please."

I thought about what one woman said as we were standing by this thin, grayish stream where the women do their laundry, and this is the same water the kids are drinking, filled with trash, where the bathrooms empty into. They are drinking waste water. C asked this woman, "Why are you drinking this water? It can kill you." She replied, "But it won't kill me today. It will kill me tomorrow." And that sums it up. Surviving today, not worrying about tomorrow because God only knows what tomorrow will bring. Who cares about tomorrow when you're too busy worrying about finding food for the kids to eat, struggling to live for just one day?

The sign said it all. Pa pipi la. Because we've endured just about enough.

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