Saturday, December 17, 2005

Don’t Forget About Me:

We hear the above statement from Haitians so often that John jokes it should be their national slogan, printed on the flag, instead of L’Union Fait Force—Unity Makes Strength, a philosophy that doesn’t seem to be much in evidence through Haiti’s history. Don’t forget about me, though: it’s a widespread sentiment.

Most recently, the guy who sells rock statues, paintings, and other tourist gifts in front of our hotel called it to us as we trudged through the driveway after walking back from clinic. He was getting worried, as we had been here a number of days and had made no purchases. Poor guy is always catching us leaving in a hurry for clinic or tired and dusty on the return trip, not ideal times to make a sale. Speaking of making a sale, as with most of the street vendors, I have seen no other prospective buyers surveying his wares. He must sell enough, though, for this to be a decent location.

“Don’t forget about me.” Katia puts it in her greeting card. Father Gerard Jean-Juste reminds St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes, not to forget about the Haitian people. The parents of some of the Haitian Hearts children utter it, lest we go on to others, now that their children have received surgery.

Haiti is a forgotten country; why wouldn’t its citizens want to remind foreigners that they count too? Sometimes I think the only purpose my presence in Haiti really serves is maybe to make people feel a little less forgotten, not so abandoned. John provides life saving medical care; when we show up, perhaps these poor moms and dads and kids feel like someone from that rich world to the north, cares about them. The poor are often not noticed or remembered. We don’t really know the difficulties of their lives. We haven’t heard their stories. It’s no wonder we frequently hear, “Don’t forget about me.”

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