This afternoon I charged off to the beach with a group of lovely ladies from NY state. We floated in the salty Caribbean, ogled at the white sand and took in a big lunch of fresh lobster and veggies. Video below…
Before this beachy afternoon, I was up early. I pounded off a load of laundry in some basins with one of those old school wash boards. I must say that the clothes came out pretty fresh! I then wandered into the streets of Leogane, intent on roving about until I was almost lost. However, I soon became overwhelmed by some of the sights down the more shaken alley ways. One of these sights I saw was graffiti of a big red X next to an equally-dripping-red “blangs” (Creole for “whites”), on a Government of Canada tarp forming the wall of a home. This led me to ask- are we, the foreigners loaded in goodwill and funds, not entirely welcome in this seemingly desperate nation?
I discussed the issue with a kindly volunteer by the name of Ray. He explained one perspective. Over the last 60 years where NGOs have imposed their goods on this small island nation, a form of beggars paradise has been created. Following the January 12 earthquake, so much food flooded into the country from international aid groups that the nation’s farmers were for a long time stunned- why purchase locally farmed goods when the United Nations office is handing out bags of rice? And the endless parades of oft deep-pocketed internationals who eagerly hand out the odd dollar bill to the cute children lining the streets can poison one’s will for subsistence at such a tender age.
I am certain that there is much more to understand in this dynamic relationship between an undeniably poor, hard-hit country and the developed world’s giving community. I hope to learn how I can give better, even if that means “giving” less.