Wednesday, December 13, 2006


The vivid blue bowel of a sky was undiluted by clouds except where they ringed the horizon, strewn over the brown mountain peaks. With the sun shining and the temperature in the 80’s, it would almost be possible to think you were in an island paradise.

But then we heard the violent, chop chop chop of the white UN helicopter flying overhead. As we watched its pattern in the sky, I said to John, “It looks like it’s circling.” He nodded. “The slums are right down there,” he pointed to a location about two miles away. Irony isn’t dead in Haiti as the worst slums are on the ocean. “Wharf Jeremie is right there, LaSaline is there and Soleil is there.” The helicopter continued circling for about 15 minutes. “I wonder what’s happening down there,” I murmured.

Whatever it is, it probably isn’t good. “People are trapped down there,” said John and he doesn’t mean this figuratively. The slums are a trap within a trap.

“People can’t get out of the way of the bullets. They can’t go anywhere. They can’t hide.” All too often, the bullets find them.

“The gang members aren’t good guys and the UN soldiers aren’t good guys.” If you’re killed by one of their bullets, it doesn’t much matter whose gun it came from.

“If the poor people sniffle, they get shot.”

“Working in Cité Soleil is voyeuristic,” continues John. “The acuity of the illnesses is severe. I wanted to do so much, but I could do so little.”

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