[On] Saturday evening, I got a phone call. Bulldozers had come in the late afternoon and knocked down houses in the Ravine... When we got there, it was chaos. Hundreds of people milling around, piles of belongings in the street, crushed concrete and torn tin roofs lying everywhere. I cried.Kez is officially my hero for the year, and definitely the toughest of the four siblings.
The people just flocked to me. Within moments, I was surrounded by a crowd of 100 people. Small children were tugging on my hand, "Miss, they knocked down my mama's house." "Miss, we don't have any where to go." Adults told me about what happened, how the bulldozers came with police and a judge. They had a few minutes to remove their children and belongings before the machines went to work. Many of them did not get everything out before the demolition began.
Every house in that block came down and then the workers pushed the rubble into the ravine so that the people would not be able to rebuild. No one will be reimbursed for any rent they have already paid, nor has the government offered any sanctuary for the families... No one knows exactly how many houses were knocked down, but the people guessed that the total was close to 300 homes. Nearly 1000 men, women and children homeless.
I asked everyone to be quiet for a minute, and in the middle of that circle of desperate and destitute people, I prayed out loud...
In that section of the ravine, there is an old warehouse that is currently empty and on sale. Sherrie had managed to find the man who maintains the building for the owner and was trying to convince him to let some families sleep inside it for the night. My Creole is better, so I took over the negotiations. It took nearly 30 minutes of finagling, praying, pleading, and some rather shady deal-making before he agreed to open the doors.
We left after making sure that everyone in the immediate area had somewhere to sleep and we promised to come back first thing the next morning... In daylight, the extent of the destruction was even more evident. It took my breath away...
Please join me in praying for my families in the ravine, but pray also for the Haitian government. The motto of the mayor of Delmas is "God, Patriotism, and Love" - I think it would be fantastic if he started truly living by that motto.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Read my sister's account of the destruction of a squatter slum in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She has worked there for nearly a year, doing a weekly "walk-through clinic". My family and I joined her for the walk once in December, so I've spoken to some of the people who are now homeless. This is the kind of first-hand account of major events in forgotten places for which the internet was invented. I excerpt here, but read the original photo essay in its entirety on Kez's blog.