When they want to kill a dog, they say it’s crazy. — Haitian proverb
Like most everyone else, I was appalled at the destruction of the January 12th earthquake, by the slowness of the response. I was lucky enough to randomly run into some people who went shortly after to help clear rubble. All I knew about Haiti was its history as the first country to be founded after a successful slave revolt, making it the second-oldest republic in the hemisphere. I “knew” of President Aristide and the coup-d’etats, and how everyone wanted him back. I “knew” it was hell on earth located in paradise. I knew nothing. I landed in Haiti in July of 2010 with some friends volunteering to rebuild a single old woman’s house, outside of the NGO bubble, in the middle of a community trying to get by to the best of their ability. I made friends, took a leave of absence at my job and moved back just 3 weeks after returning.
What you see here is people who have moved on from the disaster, though it obviously lingers in the rubble-strewn landscape and the subconscious. Hundreds of thousands of people are still displaced in tent camps, a cholera epidemic is still unchecked. Yet, for most people these things are not part of life on day-to-day basis. Other things come to the forefront. Putting food on the table, hustling, looking for work, school, getting married and funerals, a dance, a day at the beach, a budding relationship, a fistfight. They deal with the catastrophe the way they’ve dealt with every other catastrophe — they way that all humans deal with things like that. Through traditions and prayer, parties and sex, and quiet moments of contemplation. Through rage, sadness and laughter.