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Monday, March 14, 2011

Haiti One Year Later

As I arrived at the Toussaint L’ouverture airport, I was greeted by hagglers, digicel, voila and people wanting a dollar. This was not shocking to me. In fact after our trip to Haiti last year, nothing in Haiti shocks me anymore. The poverty does not shock me, the presence of the international community does not shock me and the fact that Haiti still looks the same after the earthquake does not shock me. As I rode down the streets of Port au Prince, I saw the same broken buildings, the same tent cities and the same piles of rubble. Sadly nothing has changed…

This year DRN has decided to take a more legal approach. We are partnering with an amazing organization and will be assisting them with two projects. The first is dealing with forced evictions in the internally displaced persons (IDP) camps, and the second is a Cholera prisons litigation. I am on the Cholera team and our main job is to research prisoner’s access to sanitation as well as investigate the overall conditions in the prisons.

Today the team visited a prison in Hinche. Hinche is located about 3 hours outside of Port au Prince. We met with one of the prison officials to discuss the conditions in the prison. We wanted to find out how the prisons have responded to the Cholera outbreak, what measures they have taken to prevent the spread, what the process was once someone is identified as having Cholera etc. The conditions in this prison were deplorable. There were 163 people in this prison and there were only three holding cells. They had a tent in the middle of the courtyard for inmates that had Cholera.

The prison official was very candid about what was going on in he prisons and shared his views on what needed to be changed. This particular prison official seemed to really care about he inmates. In fact one of the inmates stated that he has been like a father to him. The prison official discussed how he took the initiative to set up a commission to identify and prevent Cholera in his prison. Due to his efforts, there have only been four known incidences of Cholera as opposed to the other prisons that had 50 to 60 people die from Cholera.

This was only the first day and we have done so much. I look forward to the next few days. This week is supposed to get better with the possible return of Aristide so stay tuned.

Haiti Love

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