Saturday, December 24, 2005

Some Haitian Regulars:

We visited Rick and Sandra Sowers, a couple from New Jersey in their late fifties who run a guesthouse a short walk from where we stay. They have been coming to Haiti for several years and say they have never seen it so bad. A friend of ours, Wes, from North Carolina was staying with them in October when he was kidnapped in front of the guesthouse one morning. Fortunately, he was released unharmed at the end of the day after $10,000 in ransom was paid. “I don’t think Wes will be back to Haiti ever again,” said Sandra, a true shame given all the good he has done. “Lots of organizations, like World Vision, pulled out this summer. I tell the Haitians this is your problem. It’s a small number of people—maybe 400 or 500 in all of Haiti who are causing the problems. They are driving away the people who come to Haiti to help. The Haitians have to take care of this problem.”

Another bit of bad news for the Sowers is that it looks like the elections are again going to be postponed. Groups coming to Haiti are the lifeline of the guesthouses, the reason they exist. No guests are in evidence at the guesthouse; a place that should be bustling with people coming and going, packing and unpacking, complaining about the heat and mosquitoes. We see just a few Haitian women in the shiny-floored kitchen preparing a midday meal.

“We have a couple groups scheduled for January, but I’ll bet they cancel if there are no elections. You can’t blame them.” The feeling is with a legitimately elected Haitian government in place, Haiti will become more stable. I think this is true, but the key word is legitimate. There are reports that people can’t get voter I.D. cards and not enough polling places exist. If the elections aren't seen as a true reflection of the will of the people, peace may not prevail. Despite, this, some Haitians we talk with seem fed up with the delays.

Rick and Sandra are disappointed. “One more bad incident, and we’re out of here,” said Rick. "You have to follow your gut," John replied.

No comments: