At first, I didn't understand why the three cars which are moving the Cholera Emergency Team and the on-going primary health project team have to always stay together so closely on the road - sometimes even to the point that we almost have to cut the flow of the traffic or to slow down the whole line of cars just so the other MSF car would catch up. The cars always move together, this is what we call the "convoy". Then I found out today that in fact in certain districts of Cité Soleil, there are risks of kidnapping. These are the districts which we have to pass through everyday when travelling between the compound and the Cholera Treatment Centre (CTC)... no wonder we have to always move in a convoy and we always lock all the doors, close all the windows before the car starts.

© Aurelie BAUMEL/ MSF

Due to the uprising of violent incidents in the past few days, the banks in Port-au- Prince have closed down for about a week. As a result, we couldn't make any more payments to our staff in these few days. That led to some aggressive reactions from some of them, as expected. Of course, my explanation of why MSF is unable to pay them for the meantime did not interest them at all. When I listened to them, in the half threatening half begging tone to ask me to do something "extra" to help them - just to get them their payment, I began to realize that, they maybe tend to sort things out in a violent way because the city where they are living is a jungle full of violence. This is the way to survive in a crazy jungle like Cité Soleil... I remember particularly one of them, a man in his mid 40s probably. He hasn't eaten or hasn't been able to bring food home for days, and he was really relying on the paycheck that I'm supposed to give him today to buy the first meal for him and his family. Unlike in Niger where I did my last mission, people had not enough food but at least they could grow some onions or tomatoes or potatoes or whatever from the field... but in a city, one needs money to buy food... At the end, this man thanked me for listening to his difficulties! I could not give him his paycheck but he thanked me!!!!!!!!!!! This time, it's my turn to have water in my eyes...

Comments (1)

  • anon

    This is a great lesson. Sometimes people are just looking for some compassion.

    Jan 24, 2011

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