Camp Dadadou was less mental than Parc Jean Marie Vincent. Only 12,000 or so living under tarps. Only.
The PIH clinic at Dadadou has, in addition to the militaresque tents, a medium sized wooden building made of plywood nailed to two by fours. It’s the kind of structure that in an American suburb would get you a stern letter from the town council: “No unauthorized garages, sheds, or free standing structures. Let’s keep our town beautiful!” But here in Dadadou, even a whiff of permanence gets you a little high. Maybe Haiti can rebuild.
We were met at the clinic by Dr. Anany Prospero and Genevieve Joubert, a nurse. A few days after we got home, the husband of Marika (our violist) saw this article about Genevieve.
And it’s like, holy shit. But I didn’t realize her whole history when we met her—-she was just another member of the PIH team. But it’s like, holy shit.
She and Dr. Prospero and Dr. Ivers showed us around the camp a bit. They took us to the latrine and shower area. Genevieve talked about how for many months after the latrines were installed, they were never emptied. People used them until they were full. And then they went to the bathroom in bags or buckets, and dumped the refuse on any of the various garbage piles around the camp. But recently an organization had started emptying the latrines regularly. She said that the quality of life was much better. To put it mildly, I imagine.
Dr. Ivers (Louise, I think I’ll start calling her at this point) pointed out the separated groups of showers—-there were ten or twelve stalls grouped in one area (the stalls were made of tarps—-but they looked clean and crisp and strung up on a real structure), and a couple hundred yards away another group of stalls. The two groups were for men and for women. Louise talked about the horrific violence against women in the camps. She talked about how, now, these separate stalls weren’t a solution. But they were a little bit of a help. It was so small and simple, to have separate bathing areas for men and women. And it barely put a dent in the problem of violence. But it increased the dignity of life a little bit. Yet all over Port-au-Prince—-in Parc Jean Marie Vincent, for example—-these small dignities, these small measures of safety and protection: they aren’t being done. I can’t communicate the heavy sense of sorrow in the air. To be in a place where separate showers for men and women felt like some miracle. In a place where the united goodwill of almost the whole planet had been at work for more than a year.
From February 2010
From a year after the quake, January 2011
From two weeks ago