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Matthew; a year later. A letter from the Camp-Perrin debate club

 

Rien ne fit contre la colère du vent. Rejetant les cadeaux à cent pas de hauteur, il secoue la ville, ivre de fureur…

Jacques Stéphen Alexis, Compère Général Soleil

Club de débat de Camp-PerrinJust one year ago, the  southern part of the country, particularly Camp Perrin, was struck by one of the cruelest natural disasters it has known so far: Hurricane Matthew. If the scars are still there in the minds and in the visible damage caused to the environment, the memory of the gestures of solidarity we have received triumphs over that of the tragedies we have lived through.

The South which is gradually reborn from its ashes

In the aftermath of Matthew, at the sight of the apocalyptic spectacle lying in front of us, nobody could have imagined that the hills would be covered in trees in the near future. It seemed that the country had been licked by an huge flame, as the hills seemed all dried up. One wondered, anxiously, when the trees would again yield their fruit. But thank God, nature is endowed with great resilience.

The months following the disaster were very rainy; the mountains quickly regained their colors. There is even an increase in the production of certain commodities such as bananas, since some formerly unexploited areas, pruned by nature after the hurricane, are now producing. The birds have, for the most part, reappeared in our sky. It looks like some hills have become even greener than before.

There has been a lot of castigation of humanitarian organizations for not responding to all the requests, but perhaps we did not ask ourselves how the situation would have been if they had not been on the ground. In short, life resumes little by little and even beyond the expectations of twelve months ago, even though the consequences of this tragedy will affect for several years the life of many of us.

A thank you bouquet

The post-Matthew days were really tough. It is hard to see misery around oneself and not to be able to relieve it. I remember, among other things, a group of young people, most of whom I know well, whom I met on a routine visit to the town of Camp Perrin. At  that time it was a town strewn with fallen trees, a city where people were barely waking from a nightmare. "Mr. Alex, we've just been beaten up, trying to get something to bring home. There was so much mess in the distribution. It's terrible! Terrible!" With a heavy heart, I quickly turned away, without being able to say a word to them.

At the heart of this tragedy, we were not left to ourselves.

We cannot fail to thank FOKAL and the entire PIJ community in general for their support and all the ways we have benefited from our association with them. Many thanks in particular to Mrs. Elisabeth Pierre Louis Augustin, Director of Programs at FOKAL, for being sympathetic to our pain and to all the staff of FOKAL who have shared our difficult moments. Thank you to Jean Gérard Anis, Coordinator of the Youth Initiatives Program (PIJ), who before and after the hurricane kept in touch with us and showed us his solidarity. In those days, a call from Gros Morne, from Jonathan Vilmeus or Max Gregory Saint-Fleur from Darbonne, asking us for news, was a soothing. Thank you to all the project facilitators who were in contact with us almost daily, when it became possible, and just talking could do us so much good.

The club of Camp-Perrin will never forget the visit of the  Christ-Roi club, headed by Alfred Désir and Joel Lazare. On that day, the young people of our club gathered at my place received not only the provisions brought by the young people of Christ-Roi (toiletries, clothing, food), but they were also able, as we say, "To empty their hearts," by telling how they were impacted by the tragedy; a real therapy for the mind. It was a visit that the Camp-Perrin Club will never forget, especially since Alfred and his team incurred real risks at the time to come to us, because any car or truck suspected of carrying help was a target and could have been ransacked along the way.

At a time when our youngsters  lacked almost everything, since the rain and the wind had ruined everything: a pair of sandals, a shirt, or toiletries were of special importance. Thank you Alfred and Lazard for all the dangers that you faced to come to us, thank you to the young people of Christ-Roi for the collection that they carried out in our favor!

Finally, there are many times when the word "solidarity" has its full meaning. We have experienced it at the very heart of the tragedy. This makes us forget the trials of the bad days and consider that in reality through PIJ, we form a family!

Alex Sylne
Animator of the PIJ Club of Camp-Perrin
October 4, 2017

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FOKAL - OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATION HAITI
143, Avenue Christophe BP 2720 HT 6112
Port-au-Prince,Haïti | Tel : (509) 2813-1694

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