Like most everyone else with a computer or TV set on this little planet, I’ve been watching with awe and horror the images from Haiti this past week. Unlike most, I’ve actually been to Port-au-Prince and have images of the city that were already in my head, which have been competing with these latest images all week, images of a somewhat happier, definitely less devastated time. Elsewhere on my website you can read a story of one of my experiences in Haiti, Schools Are Heavy. I am excerpting a small part of the story here:
Traveling through the city you had noticed that everything here hides behind walls. There were no yards, no parking lots, no plazas, no open, empty lots in the city, only walls. Some were simple cinderblock affairs, unpainted and uninviting. Some were stucco or cement, studded with shells or bright colored stones. Some were even painted with fading murals. They had corrugated metal gates, heavy steel gates, painted wooden gates or even ornate wrought iron, but everywhere there were walls. Now you were in the country and instead of seeing the occasional pleasant farmhouse you saw… walls. And the further from the city, the more inventive the walls. Lack of money, it seemed, was no barrier to constructing walls. Stones and hedges replaced cinderblock as the day wore on. And somewhere about the center of the island, you saw the most enterprising and forbidding wall of them all: a neatly trimmed prickly-pear cactus wall. And you learned, this land is all about walls.
At 4:48 on Tuesday, January 12, those walls, which have for so long sheltered and protected the Haitian people, came tumbling down, killing, maiming and entombing tens, likely hundreds of thousands of people. I urge you to give what you can to help the Haitian people in this hour of distress.