Haitian Child

Haitian Child

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Jacmel - Three Years after the Earthquake

Beauty Salon in Jacmel
Most of the two weeks I spent in Haiti in March 2010 were in Jacmel. The memories from that time are intense and emotional. I returned to find out what happened to the city and to the hospital where I worked.
Tent where I worked in March 2010, now collapsed.
Much as changed. The hospital is no longer controlled by security. The long lines of patients are gone. The tent that I worked in has been raised up on a wooden platform, presumably after it flooded during a rainy season, but the platform was poorly constructed and the tent collapsed and this extra hospital room is no longer functional. The Medicines Sans Frontiers tents are no longer there. The tent with the Cuban doctors is gone. All that remains is the original hospital with an obstetrics area, an ophthalmology area, an emergency and outpatient area, and a small inpatient service. The grounds seemed deserted by comparison, which I guess is good. Hopefully this means that health has returned to the community.
Tiled street art in Jacmel.
Jacmel looks positively prosperous. The rubble is gone. The community plans are for the city to be a major tourist destination with facilities for cruise ships. The harbor looks adequate. After the quake, a Canadian Armed Forces Vessel was offshore. Canadian soldiers helped rebuild the airport at Jacmel.
Political art in hotel in Jacmel.
Haitians are a creative people and Jacmel is a creative hub for the country. The art and music in the streets and in the cafes is exciting.

The bold colors and the cultural, religious, and political themes of the paintings, the masks, and the carvings are distinctive and exceptional.
Tropical bird sculpture in Jacmel Cafe.
Music is woven into how the Haitians move and talk. Some of the music reminds me of New Orleans and I wonder if this Louisiana city traces the Carnival sound to Haiti.
Haitian mask in Jacmel hotel restaurant.
While in Haiti, I am reading a wonderful set of three novellas by Marie Vieux-Chauvet, who wrote about the persecution during the years of the Duvalier dictatorship. Vieux-Chauvet lived during my parent’s generation. She was a gifted writer and she has helped me put Haitian culture into historical perspective. 

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