Testimony of a Quebec humanitarian worker – in Ayiti
It was with a heavy heart that I was repatriated yesterday from my adopted country of the last 3 months, one month before my scheduled return date. I am sad to have left as quickly, certainly, but even more torn to have left the country in the state it is now. What upsets me most is the helplessness I felt about injustice in the world. We often hear about inequalities and we often take for granted the privileges we have, which today have made me deeply uncomfortable …
This weekend, burn victims in an explosion in the city I was in had difficulty getting the care they needed to survive, not just because there are not enough health workers in most facilities at the national level (because the Haitian state rarely pays its employees, whether doctors, professors, policemen, etc.), but also because access to drinking water, medicines, equipment is very limited and even more recently with the scarcity of fuel. Since electricity in Haiti is essentially based on burning gasoline, the current scarcity in the country is forcing healthcare providers to pay patients for fuel even before treatment. Healthcare and services were precarious for the majority of the population. Add to this the fact that the authority of production and control of electricity in Haiti (EDH) no longer serves the city of Les Cayes for more than two months, leaving the population in the “blakawout” daily.
Access to food, already extremely limited, is even more difficult with the exponential increase in food prices accentuated by the scarcity of fuel. The absurdity of the situation is that while more than 6 million Haitians live below the poverty line (less than $ 2.41 / day) and more than 2.5 million below the extreme poverty line ( $ 1.23 / d), President Jovenel Moïse continues to turn a deaf ear after participating in the misappropriation of more than US $ 4.2 billion in public funds lent with an annual interest rate of 1% by Venezuela. Contradictorily, Moses also opposed the Maduro regime at the head of the country at the OAS meeting.
All this besides the leaders of the influential countries, including Canada, who are complicit in this corruption by supporting it. Sadly, the means of advocacy currently used to denounce injustice (looting shops, supermarkets, offices of national and international organizations, or even hospitals to name but a few) will ultimately affect those people who are already under the poverty line, while the country’s wealthy rulers and their friends will continue to grow rich.
It was with the contribution of several organizations and a sustained collective effort to find gasoline that an ambulance was mobilized to take the casualties of the explosion to specialized care in Port-au-Prince. 4 hours drive from Les Cayes). Tragically, a child among the victims aboard the ambulance succumbed to his burns, as the vehicle was held in the barricades crippling the road to the capital for several weeks.
IRONICALLY, on October 1st, 2019, a private plane was quickly brought to the Antoine-Simon des Cayes airport to repatriate me with other foreign colleagues to the Port-au-Prince airport, all in less an hour, in order to ensure our safety. To know that this same privilege could have helped save lives really upsets me and makes me feel unjustly privileged. Why would my safety be worth more than the life of a suffering child?
Once again, I salute the courage of Haitians, a resilient people I know. I remain hopeful that this country will change over the next few years. The work will be difficult but each of us can contribute by stopping to endorse corruption in countries like Haiti. I invite you to share this testimony so that people become aware of what is happening now, since the media do not dare to even touch the subject visibly.
Andréanne Bégin – Health professional who worked in Les Cayes
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