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 Haiti: Proud to Call You my Home Sweet Home

By Wadner Pierre

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I was born and raised in Haiti.  It was always my wish to live and die in my country. Unfortunately, life takes me far away from my beloved country.  I was 24-year-old when I left Haiti in 2008. This is where my journey in this world began. I call this journey in French, "Un voyage sans retour." Like most people whose life forces to leave their countries whether for good education or looking for a better life, I am happy any time I can make a trip back home.

 Like a New Orleanian may say, "I'm happy to swim home." I want say, "Earthquake, Cholera, I will rather be Haiti, even if I have to live under makeshift tents and under cholera outbreak's threat." Just like I said in my title: Haiti: proud to call you home sweet home. Yes, I am proud to be a Haitian, and proud of those who died to give me this country. Political and natural disasters can make Haiti look like a hard place to live, but one thing I can say is Haitians are lovely, wonderful, and strong people.   In the middle of our despair we pray, we cry, and we say "Ann gade pou pi douva"(Let’s look ahead).

On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake ruined the country.  Over 300,000 people died and over one million left homeless. Three weeks after the earthquake, I flew through Dominican Republic and drove to Haiti along with my two American friends, Rene Merino and Andrew Stewart, to visit and see my people. It was devastating; I cried, photographed, and attended the UN and NGOs meetings. Those meetings took place at the UN base at Toussaint Louverture Internal Airport.  I was frustrated to see how money destined to help my fellow Haitians was being spent unwisely. Instead of using the money to help the earthquake's survivors, the money was being used to pay UN and NGOs like American Red Cross and UNICEF bureaucracies. That was unfortunate.

 When I returned back to the States, I brought photographs I took during my one-week trip back home.  Upon my return, I attended different events, spoke, and showed my photos. Yet, I still felt helpless.
 
I made another trip to Haiti in the summer where I spent twenty-eight days traveling to the northern and central parts of Haiti. I was happy to see another face of my country – the face that rarely presented in the mainstream media. Suddenly, another problem came, Cholera. The UN was accused of causing the cholera outbreak in Haiti, an accusation UN denied in its statement.

Cholera is a disease that can kill people in less than a day because it dehydrates the body so quickly. Over 500 people have already died and over 9,000 hospitalized since the cholera appeared in Haiti.  In a research conducted by the U.S Center for Diseases Control (CDC), the studies showed that cholera is originally from South East Asia and some of the UN peacekeeping soldiers are from East Asia, the Nepal. The majority cases are found in the regions called Down Plateau and Down Artibonite located along the Artibonite River. The Nepalese military base is located in the Dow Plateau. Investigating journalist went to Mirbalais in the area where the Nepalese troops base is located, they found that the buried septic was overthrowing and draining to the Artibonite River. The Artibonite River is a source of drinking water, and for people to bathe and wash their clothes.  This week Cholera made its way to Haiti's capital, Port-Au-Prince, where over one million people have been living without basic sanitarian protection – over 50 people already died.

Meanwhile Haiti supposedly prepares to hold Presidential and Legislatives Elections on November 28, 2010. These elections divide the country.  Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council unjustifiably disqualified 15 political parties, amongst them Fanmi Lavalas, Haiti's largest political party.

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© Wadner Pierre, Nov. 11, 2010