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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Return to Cite Soleil

My guess would be that there is no doubt about how this kid feels about us returning to Cite Soleil.

We started out the day in Florence's school Deux Jesus in Cite Soleil that doubles as a church on Sundays. When Aristide was president he provided support for schools, but that is no longer the case. They meet in an old building with sunlight filtering in through holes in the walls and roof. The school has 250 students, but other than an old chalkboard they do not have much for resources. Many of the children suffer from hunger, and several of them are orphans.

From Florence's school we continued on to a cyber cafe where we interviewed eight people who were victims of UN attacks. As with yesterday, we took down their names, basic information, pictures, audio, etc. One woman was obviously not entirely ok mentally. We moved people through quickly (Next! Next! Next!). But because we were meeting in the sanitized environment of a cyber cafe the whole undertaking was not as emotionally exhausting as it had been yesterday when we met people right in their living environments. A common theme was that the UN was looking for bandits, but just killed innocent civilians in the process. I'm going to hold on to these testimonies for now until we decide what to do with them. As we were leaving Cite Soleil, we passed another white UN pickup loaded with soldiers in combat gear. We see them all the time.

The final meeting was with Rea's school SOPUDEP that tries to provide food and educational opportunities for street kids. They don't receive funding from the government, but a major theme that emerged was that they don't receive NGO funding either. They provided as a typical example Save the Children whose offices are located right across the street from the school. These NGOs are not interested in helping local grassroots groups, and too much of their funding goes to administrative overhead. This points to a common problem with large NGOs that are more interested in preserving their institutional interests than advancing the needs of the people. Rea urged us to support local organizations instead of large international NGOs.

By now it was raining which really kicks up my sinuses and gives me a royal migraine, so I'm going to cut this all short. Sorry.

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