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Nadia Shira Cohen | Exodus


Nadia Shira Cohen | Exodus | From PRIVATE 51 – Global Report 2, pp. 18-21

[A]nd why Haiti… in a country which is no stranger to suffering, why then have the fate of the Haitians befallen to such a massive disaster, an earthquake stamping out hundreds of thousands of lives in the matter of seconds, those with their lives intact wandering aimlessly, with no more hope of opportunity which they came seeking in the burgeoning city of Port Au Prince, a city now encased in a thin sheath of dust, resembling some kind of surreal movie set. But this is not Hollywood, the lights will not go on and all the actors go home, as these are not actors and there is no more home. Home must be re-created, cleverly invented out of banana tree leaves and collected roof thatching.

When I arrived in Haiti just two weeks after a 7.0 Mw Earthquake I did not know what to expect apart from widespread disaster and suffering but what brought me there was not a focus on what was lost but rather a curiosity for what there was to gain from such a tragedy and how to move forward. Although I had no comprehensive plan on how to show this, I knew that the people of Haiti would guide me, and thus began my journey around the remote countryside of the only slave nation in the western hemisphere to have overthrown their masters.

After having lost almost everything many are returning to the countryside, packing into relative’s one-room country houses with no electricity or running water, sometimes 30 people to one house. Here in the remote countryside, the food aid does not arrive and the people must help themselves. They are rebuilding a somewhat abandoned countryside, replanting trees, and other crops, searching for schools for their children, buying chickens. In Haiti a chicken goes a long way if it is not eaten immediately, it can bear eggs and new chickens, accumulating an income of 150 usd a year in a country where the average wage is equal to 2 usd a day. Those who are too old or with disabilities and cannot help themselves are helped by others. Haitians are no stranger to suffering, yet they are not resigned to it, they are fighters, they pick up the pieces and move forward.

(From PRIVATE 51 – Global Report 2, p. 18-21)

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