Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Leisa's Haiti Journal #5: Port au Prince Goes Dark
Full-moon light shocked me awake by sliding through the dusty glass slats above my bed.
Port au Prince had gone dark tonight as I sat listening to a soft guitar by lantern and candle light on another roof-top nook at Michael’s temporary home. It happens most every night. After sweating our way through the day, earthquake relief workers usually manage to wander up to some high patio with a cold Prestige or two trying (mostly in vain) to catch a breath of wind and if you are really lucky, internet connection. Then, sure as the sun was hot, the power will fail.
When it goes, electricity fails for the entire city in one fell swoop, then one by one, you can see generators kick in, and twinkling lights start popping up all over town…all over the crest of the city that is. From where I looked over the ledge, only the wealthy homes ringing the crest of the city (that can afford a generator) had their lights pop back on. In fact, most homes go dark with the sun…not being able to afford the fickle electric grid anyway.
Even the word “homes” here is a euphemism, especially after the quake. 1.5 million Haitians were displaced and only 28 thousand have moved into “homes” (NYT July 11, 2010). Six months after the quake nothing has changed…frustration grows out of the rubble instead of new homes. Single digit percent of money donated to large NGOs and promised by foreign governments have made it to the streets lined with homeless people.
Prices for food continue to rise. Last year when we bought food for a certain orphanage, we could do it for about three hundred dollars…this year, that amount made us choose between buying black beans and rice…it breaks your heart.
If there is any way you can spread the word about our work here to friends who may want to help, but don’t know where to send it…please forward my journals. Every dollar means so much here. One gourde (less than one cent) buys a bucket of clean water.
Peace, all ways and always, leisa