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Monday, September 25, 2023

Haiti Insecurity: the unheard voice

IMG-20141019-WA0014By Claire Bijou

CSMS Magazine

Port-au-Prince–On September 16th, 2014, Patricia M. Colin, age 33, was the victim of a gunshot at Delmas 40B. Like most victims in Haiti’s seemingly endless cycle of violence, nothing has been done. This is a country where no one is safe under the protection of the State. The story of Mrs. Colin is a vivid reminder of how precarious life truly is in Haiti.

Claire: Patricia, tell me about you?

Patricia: My name is Patricia M. Colin. I’m 33 years old, married and have a soon-to-be 2years old daughter named Kiara.

Claire: What do you do for a living?

Patricia: I’m currently working for the United Nations as a radio Operator.

Claire: Patricia, tell me what happened on that Tuesday September 16th, 2014.

Patricia: On that day, upon waking up, I had decided to go see my mom. My husband was in the process of going away for an international mission. Consequently, I was in real need of counselling. I remember calling my husband, and telling him about my plans. He asked me to check if the car had enough fuel and he also told to be careful. Once I arrived at my mother’s house, the first thing I did was to put my phone in a charger. It so happened at that very moment, my mother needed some equipment from the hardware shop. Instead of sending my niece, who was getting ready to go to school, she asked me if I could get the stuffs for her at Ti Paul Quincaillerie. With my mom’s list and 500 gourdes in my hand, I proceeded to the shop. The Quincaillerie is less than a minute walk. Once there, I gave the list to the worker and, at that moment, the owner of the hardware shop walked in. We knew each other pretty well. As we were catching up on the events of our lives, I suddenly noticed a fire like ball that went straight at the owner and then a loud bam. Not really given it an importance, I simply thought it was a car tires that exploded. But I was wrong. Two bandits on a motorcycle had open fire on the Quincaillerie (hardware store).

The owner got shot but, he swiftly had his gun in hand. He pulled the trigger and started firing. I was right in front of him, in the fire exchange; I got shot in my left arm and one bullet slightly scratched the left side of my stomach. Truthfully I did not feel the impact of the bullet hitting me, all I saw was blood coming out. I quickly stepped out of the hardware store. At first I had thought the hardware shop owner had gone crazy and decided to open fire at me. When the bandits fire their gunshot, my back was on them. So when I stepped out, I saw bystanders watching. I quickly ran to them in hope that they would help me. Unfortunately, they turned their back on me and closed their doors. Upon seeing a garage, I quickly ran toward it and hid behind a vehicle. The shooting hadn’t stop. I still hadn’t realized that the owner was shooting at bandits. Through my hiding spot, I saw a man passing by; I called to him over and asked him if he could help me. Graciously, for me the man recognized me. I gave him my mother’s number which he dialed. In the meantime, I heard people screaming “she got shot, she got shot”. Then I saw a lady who came with a piece of cloth and wrap it around my arms. Someone stopped a car and I was quickly transported to Hospital La Paix. I must say the service was really poor there. It took minutes before they tended to my wounds, despite the fact it was an emergency case.

Claire: What was the effect of that incident on your family?

Patricia: My whole family was shocked. My mother has diabetes, upon hearing the news, the left side of her body became paralyzed.

Claire: What about you?

Patricia: How do I feel now? Hmmm… when the incident happened, I asked myself why this happened to me.  I was just minding my own business and suddenly I became a victim. I was so angry, I couldn’t accept it, and I would cry a lot. At night, I couldn’t sleep. My husband, through it all, was really supportive. After a while, I started thinking, had I not gone there, the owner of the hardware store could have died that day. Secondly, when I look at where the bullet slightly scratched me on the left side of my stomach and hit me on my left arm but didn’t affect my bones, I simply say thank you GOD, for it could have been worse. Thirdly, when I look at my daughter, I feel like I don’t belong here anymore—like Haiti is no longer a place for me to stay. True GOD is omnipresent, and worst could have happened, for you never know what the future has in store for you. Though I’m trying to cope, I’m still traumatized. I would and could never forget.

Claire: Do you think Haiti can change?

Patricia: Truthfully, I don’t see the change happening. Generation before me, used to say Haiti will change. I’m 33 years old and, till today, no change has happened. People that are capable of making that change are leaving the country instead of helping it.  No, I don’t think so, not the way things are.

Claire:  What advice would you give to someone who has gone through an ordeal similar to yours?

Patricia: I would say if you can leave, do so. I know everywhere else there’s insecurity, but for a peaceful state of mind, it would be best. Yes, you need to be careful, but when danger comes knocking at your door, there’s nothing you will be able to do.

 Everyone is telling me to give it time, it will heal; but I don’t feel that. I know that event would forever be a scar in my life. I’m living with fear, everything makes me jumpy. A friend of mine told me that I should watch war movie to help me cope. That’s certainly not a solution. What I can say is to accept it. If you can stay in the country then do so but if not, don’t torture yourself. You feel safe until something happens to you. But the moment it does, it’s like a whole new door has open.

Claire: Thank you Patricia, would you like to add one last thing?

Patricia: I want to say thank you for this opportunity for my story to be heard. I have visited the CSMS magazine website and I find it quite interesting. Keep up the good work.

Patricia Mondesir has been the victim of insecurity in our country. She is one of the unheard victims of the country. Would the country ever change or will it continue to strive in chaos? No one knows.

Claire Bijou is a dynamic young lady whose talent in creative writing is a joy to observe. She is the new contributor for CSMS Magazine. She lives and works in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She may be reached at bijouclaireb@yahoo.com

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