Fall is my favourite time of year in Canada. Crisp air and (mostly) dry weather make for some prime biking. The trees and plants are shifting to a more earthen palette, the leaves falling like sand in an hour glass to signal the impending snow. And much to my glee, there usually are a few municipal, provincial and federal elections in play, making for good discussions amongst friends and entertainment in the media. The last week in Haiti has provoked an entirely different take on Fall, one less joyous than my Canadian version.
Elections are coming at the end of the month and instead of hearty open debates, free flowing media, and the thrill of democracy in action, Haitians are faced with the rampant dissemination of rumours, fears of violence and utter despair for a more representative government.
The weather here is also changing. The end of the hurricane season is in sight at the end of the month- a dry and uneventful one being something to celebrate- but there is a nasty tropical depression by the name of Tomas bearing down on the island (track it here). I’m fortunate to be staying at a facility and with an organization which is entirely capable of weathering such an event, but millions of Haitians are living in temporary shelters and areas prone to severe flooding and land slides.
The cholera outbreak which has ravaged a region north of the capital city has in three short weeks killed 3oo and sickened over 4000. The outlook is optimistic that the outbreak is contained, much to the credit of quick actions by the government and aid organizations working in the country. However, with its poverty level at 80% and the accompanying decrepit and unhygienic living conditions found throughout the country, Haiti is still on high alert, particularly considering the ongoing rainy season which can rapidly flood waste canals and latrines into the streets.
To top it off, there were two earthquakes last weekend. Albeit small tremors incapable of toppling even a set of dishes, they were not inconsequential for they rattle the nerves of Haitians whose lives were turned upside down by the massive January quake.
Despite these challenging factors in their lives, Haitians soldier on for these are circumstances as regular to them as are the falling leaves to Canadians.