By Yvon LacroixCSMS Magazine Staff WriterIt looks like the pain is endless. And by all account, it seems that way. Haiti is a country on the verge starvation. Leading the drive to this gruesome end is the country’s supposedly “responsible” government. The Preval presidency looks more like a caretaker government rather than an elected one with a mandate to alleviate the suffering of a population whose daily life is a constant nightmare—hellish and gruesome.When René Préval was elected 2 years ago, he made it clear to the disenfranchised masses that he has no magic solution to the Haitian problem. Since then, he made no concerted effort to reduce the level of hunger in the country.Walking down the main street in Downtown Port-au-Prince, signs of poverty are everywhere. A visitor is quickly overwhelmed. Homeless children mixed with hungry stray dogs and countless of panhandlers swelled the street, and as the sunray beams down in the early morning hour, the naked treeless mountain top of the Massif de la Selle overlooking the city below offers nothing but a scary impression that Haiti is country bound for a major disaster of catastrophic proportion.“No one sleeps in Haiti, except for those who have the luxury to find food to eat. I used to live on one meal a day. Now, I’m lucky if I can find it. I have 3 children to feed, and they don’t eat unless I bring the food to them. The harshest thing for a parent is to watch his child go to sleep hungry because he is unable to feed him,” affirmed Albert Dejean with his eyes brimming with tears, a jobless pedestrian who lives in one of the shantytowns near the suburb of Delmas, right outside Port-au-Prince. It is true that to many in Haiti, sleeping at night is an unbelievable nightmare, a necessary passage from sundown to sunrise that no one can avoid. The sad thing is that no one complains anymore about a government totally démissionaire of its functions. “There is no need to,” claimed Annaize Joseph, an ambulant merchant from Carrefour, near the southern fringe of the city. “The only thing one can be assured of getting if promised in this country is the promise of death,” she growled with distasteful anguish and with the glow of an emotion that made her impossible to hide her feelings.To the vast majority of the population, Haiti is a large prison that everyone wants to escape in a heartbeat if given the opportunity. Don’t get me wrong. Most if not all Haitians love their country to the core, and their patriotism is felt in every opportunity to express it. But it seems like there is a general consensus that survival instinct MUST have priority over the awesome clinging over past glory. If Haiti has to survive, its people must not only survive, but also thrive.
Making dirt cookies to fill the stomach
With food prices rising, Haiti’s poorest can’t afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate measures to fill their bellies. As the Denver Post recounted yesterday, “Merchants truck the dirt from the central town of Hinche to the La Saline market, a maze of tables of vegetables and meat swarming with flies. Women buy the dirt, then process it into mud cookies in places such as Fort Dimanche, a nearby shantytown.”The cookie is made by mixing water with that special dirt from the town of Hinche in the Central Plateau. According to eyewitnesses, before the mixing, the dirt is strained out of rocks and clumped on a sheet. Then the filtered dirt is now stirred and salted before water is poured in to create muddy, moisturized cookies that are later left to dry under the scorching sun since the merchants do not have the special oven to bake them. The health implication from this seemingly dangerous precedent is yet to be determined.No one ignores the effect of high prices for basic necessities in poor countries like Haiti. The problem is particularly dire in the Caribbean, where island nations depend on imports, and food prices are up 40 percent in some places. But what good is government that cannot even look after its most vulnerable citizens.Haiti is country on the brink, and only a revolution can change things around.A micro project to help Haitian deportees