Bribing Cops, Daily Rains, and a Food Riot in PAP, Haiti – Haiti Update 06/02/2010

Posted: June 3, 2010 in Uncategorized

Last night was quite the night.  Aside from the ongoing heat and overwhelming humidity I had the chance to see first hand what it takes to get out of a ticket.  We had one of our guys run Marjorie and Patricia home last night and on the way back he got stopped at a checkpoint about 6 blocks from the house.  The driver did not have a license and apparently that’s a big deal in PAP even though you can buy one for $150 USD and nobody here obeys any type of laws, speed limits, or general courtesies.  Back to last night, he got stopped at the checkpoint and when he could not produce a license he and the other guys in the truck were asked to get out, were handcuffed and the car was searched.  Let’s forget anything about probable cause.  LP got a call from one of them about the situation and went down to handle it.  He couldn’t find his license mainly because his was taken a month ago by a crooked cop so he went with his passport to sort things out.  About 20 minutes I get a call that they will give us the car and the guys back if I show up with my license.  While I was walking to their location I got another call asking if I had $100 US on me.  I’m thinking “Great, their goes gas and food money for the next week.”  When I arrive on scene LP tells me that they have worked everything out and we need to go to the house to get some tents for the cops.  I got in the car with 2 of the guys, head home, grab 4 tents and head on back.  Here’s where it got interesting.  The cop that wanted the tents to let us go wasn’t even getting them for himself.  They were for other cops that don’t have homes and live under tarps.  I’m cool with that to an extent.  We gave them the tents and headed home to get a call from one of them about 10 minutes alter.  Apparently we left all of our registration paperwork with them and had to go back.  We loaded up 8 cases of Gatorade nutritional shakes and went back, gave them the shakes and finally got to go home.

So the moral of the story is that if you have tents and Gatorade you can get out of tickets.  The one cop in charge was actually pretty cool and it was nice to see him tell the other cops that they were not going to take out money.  I guess when you live in a poverty stricken country and your friends have no home, you do what you can to help them out.  On the upside we now have another cop friend we can call if things go south for us.

And now for me to rant about this whole Gatorade ordeal.  Here’s the story.  6 weeks ago Gatorade made an amazing donation  400,000 units of Gatorade Nutritional Supplement drinks.  These are so needed here.  Each can has 400 calories, 20g protein, 9g fat and when you have a starving country where the patients don’t get fed regularly, this product will save lives.  Like I was saying, 6 weeks ago Medishare received 5 containers full of this stuff.  People were so excited that it arrived and then the crap hit the fan.  Customs held it in their port until 1 day after it expired.  1 day.  Now the Ministry of Health is saying that the product is unsafe and people will get sick from it.  That’s odd because we’ve been drinking it for a week now and we are actually feeling better.  What pisses me off about the whole thing is that this was clearly a power play by the government to make the people suffer.  Once again they go beyond normal measures to take away anything that will make the people of this country better and healthier.  they want their people to suffer and be treated like dogs.  Nobody is sure what to do with the product.  Volunteer medical staff are mad as hell about it because everyone knows the product is perfectly safe.  In the end, it will more than likely have to be destroyed.  My hat goes off to Gatorade because that was a huge expense for them and they did the right thing by sending it.  If it wasn’t for this damn government I know that lives would be saved.  Now we have to watch sick people starve because of this crap.

Finally, the rains are here and they are in full force.  Today it has been raining for the better part of 6 hours and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop anytime soon.  Now I’m not talking about a drizzle or even a heavy rain.  When it rains here it is absolutely ridiculous.  The streets turn in to rivers.  Remember how I said there is no sewage system here.  Well guess what?  All of the open sewage canals overflow and flood the streets with trash and waste.  The stench is overwhelming and it sticks to you like glue.  Though it wasn’t raining the day this happened, we drove by a septic canal and LP literally stuck his nose in his own armpit because it was where the freshest air was at.  I did the same but the difference was that I wasn’t wearing deodorant and was sweaty and it was still more pleasant than the stench outside.

Lauren aka Pigpen left on Friday and we miss her so much.  She is a force to be reckoned with but I’m glad that she took a break because she needed it so badly.  She had been here since 3 days after the earthquake and has dedicated every waking moment to the people here.

Christina has taken her place and she is killing it.  This poor girl takes constant abuse from us and she rolls with it.  Just the other day I was giving her lip and all I heard from the seat behind me was a very stern “Shut up”.  My response to that was a very timid “Yes Maam”  I don’t think she owns a remotely clean/unstained shirt anymore so if anyone wants to send down some medium-sized shirts to her I think she would greatly appreciate it.  If you have any with some really odd or even embarrassing logos/text on it please send it.  Let’s have some more fun with her.  The truth is that she is keeping LP and I centered.  She even makes breakfast for the entire team every morning.  Granted she’s threatened us a few times with ceasing the breakfast if we don’t play nice but I think/hope she’s kidding.  We love this grimey broad.

LP is doing well.  Granted he’s a little stressed out with the driving here and when I say little it would be like calling the Grand Canyon and little hole in the ground.  I have had the misfortune of having to drive here and I am really going to hate it when he leaves.  Aside from that he is always his spastic self and wanting to get things done.  He does have a way of motivating the Haitian workers to pick up the pace and get the job done.  Usually it consists of him taking the lead and getting filthy and sweaty but they see his drive and work ethic and it’s contagious.  Today we were at the Medishare warehouse and he got the guys to move 12 pallets of toilet paper in 15 minutes.  The guys had formed a chain and were chucking the boxes at each other down the line.  LP was on the top shelf of the storage rack stacking them up 8 feet high.  The guys were laughing and it became a game to see who could throw the boxes the fastest.  In the end he was drenched in sweat, exhausted and short of breath but when the Haitians saw that they seemed very proud of the work they had all done.

I’m doing well.  I was sick for the last 2 days but thanks to the miracle of modern medicine and copious amounts of antibiotics I’m doing much better.  I’ve been working on clearing out the last items that we picked up from Mission of Hope and the Cubans will be getting the rest of it in the morning.  We are headed out there again tomorrow for another 24ft box truck of stuff for IMC.

I’m excited because this month I will have quite a few friends coming down.  Tom comes in on the 12th, Carol and Erica on the 14th, Danell on the 3oth and Gramps will be back with us next week.

Now for some random events that have happened to us.

On Monday LP and the team were at the Medishare warehouse in Citie Solei (if you don’t know where that is just Google it, it’s a great little part of town).  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cité_Soleil

So, back to the story, they are at the warehouse in a little slice of hell called Citie Solei when 2 random guys show up to get food items and diapers claiming they were from the Un with a fake badge.  One of them started to argue with a Medishare employee and when LP tried to intervene he got lippy with him.  LP was very kind in offering to step outside and talk to him.  Granted, talking to him would have evolved to a fake UN employee having to go see an ER doc due to a broken nose, but hey, when you try to steal from the people we work with there are repercussions.  After they were dismissed from the property, the fake Mayor showed up with an armed detail that looked like they were escape prisoners.  The Mayor was quite dainty for a heterosexual male but hey, he was confident.  At this point everyone turned to LP.  The Pseudo-Mayor asked if they could go through the warehouse to take what they wanted.  Obviously LP wasn’t going to have that happen so he politely asked them to leave.  I know what you’re thinking.  LP, polite?  Seriously though he was quite the gentleman and kept things very PC.  After they left, a small group of 75 people formed outside the gate and began throwing rocks at the door and banging on it.  Now, what they didn’t know was that everyone was a good 150 ft from the gate so unless any of them play for the Yankees as an outfielder there was no way a rock was getting near them.  In a moment of enlightenment LP had the foresight to call Medishare and explain that the crowd was unruly and that he needed a security detail to make sure that nothing would happen to the truck or the guys working there.  Medishare responded quickly and by the time they got their everything had settled down.

This was a very isolated incident and it was in a shady part of town, but hey the warehouse space is cheap, easily accessed and has a gate.  If you’re reading the blog and thinking of coming down don’t worry.  We’ve been back a few times now and nothing like that has happened again.  Mom, if you’re reading this don’t worry.  I was at home sick and LP is wiry and can fend for himself quite well.

Overall things are going smoothly here.  We are all working our butts off and things are starting to run smoothly.  I want to personally thank Jeff, Tom, Esther, Linda, and everyone else that has sent us donations to keep us here.  It is thanks to everyone that reads this that helps keep us here.  We are at a point now where we can start training the locals to do our jobs and that will take 6 months to complete.  Without your help and funding this can not happen and if we can’t pass this on to someone than all of our work will have been in vain.  Please continue to help us out and pass our stories on to those you know.  We need funding to remain here and leave an impact on Haiti.  Without your donations this is impossible.

I love you guys dearly and will keep you updated on what is going on here.  If you want to read about what people think of us we just got written up by Dennis Rosen in Psychology Today.  Check out his story at http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sleeping-angels/201005/the-people-you-meet

Gotta run for now.

Peace

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Comments
  1. Danell says:

    Hey hun,
    congrats big time on Psychology today blog…as you know my past degree was in psych. so I loved and still read that magazine, so proud of you.
    I am packing up the suitcases with quilts and goodies my grandma made for you and a few other docs. she is so cute.
    I can not wait to see you, it is only a couple weeks now!!

  2. Hah I’m honestly the only comment to this great post.

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