April 15, 2010

March 22, 2010 - Port au Prince, Ayiti

Yesterday and today I am in Port au Prince, doing an assessment for a short training with long term follow up for the emergency organization where I worked in West Africa, now in Haiti.

I arrive in Cham Mas, the displaced camp outside of the collapsed presidential palace my first day in Port au Prince. I weave through the rows of families, many sitting outside their tents to escape the heat, only to find more heat. I am led by one of the Coordinators of KOFAVIV, a group that has long worked in neighborhoods around the area, as survivors of sexual violence who want to help other survivors. After hearing so many stories in another camp about fear of getting involved with survivors of violence against women because of possible retribution from perpetrators, I am impressed when they tell me all they do to support survivors. I ask what inspires them to keep doing their work, even when there is no money and it is sometimes dangerous.

One of the women says: "If our ancestors had been too afraid to stand up against slavery, we would be in a very different position now. But they were not afraid to stand up, and we are benefiting from that today. So we as women decided to put ourselves together and stand up, too, so that maybe someday our daughters and granddaughters will not have to be afraid."

We have to leave the meeting quickly, because Clinton and Bush want to visit the camp--the traffic is overwhelming and a protest is brewing. But after some tricky, backward driving by a brilliant man, we're out of traffic in no time.

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