Mittwoch, 3. März 2010

Haiti - seeing destruction and joy

written for "we strive"

Crossing into Haiti on the 11th of February from the Dominican Republic offered us an insight into the busy, chaotic boarder region where international aid piles up and local small business try to make their part of the cake. We are on our way with 14 educators, psychologists, art therapist, doctors, nurses and experiential educators to do an emergency education intervention with the „Friends of Waldorf Education Rudolf Steiner“ to help stabilise children, possibly traumatised by the earthquake of 12th January.

As we arrive in Port au Prince, one of the images stuck to my head was people searching in an totally destroyed mall for corpses, the smell of decomposition in the air, people staring at the flattened building, a few climbing up and down in the ruins at the risk to fall.

Oh what do I have to expect in coming days?

We were looking for an local organisation in Leogan (25km west of Port au Prince and around 30km north of the epicentre) we could work with. We found it in Acre Derb, an organisation wanting already to work with children directly after the earthquake but having no means to do so. By destiny we could connect to them and start our work with around 200-300 children, changing from day to day. In the morning we could offer a small snack and some water, both a rare thing after the unimaginable for these children, living in tents since the quake. Starting than with different groups, around 50 children up to five years were taken care by our lovely kindergardeners, the others split in to groups six to nine, ten to twelve and 13 to 16 years. We got beautiful pictures drawn in the art therapy group, some gave us a lot to thing about the kids experience. Great fun we had in the different experiential education groups, children sending around an imaginary ball, jumping over an invisible stick, passing around a ball which is thought to be burning hot, telling a story and children doing the movements to it, balancing over a rope back and forward looking into my eyes. What I saw? Everything you can imagine after such an catastrophe which left 90% of Leogans buildings and infrastructure in rubble. Fast moving eyes looking everywhere, calm eyes focusing on my eyes, sad ones, ones which showing the grieve of loss of someone close, some happy and some full of joy being able to do something else than sitting in tents or ruins.
Our doctors were taking care of children being sick or having untreated injuries, they also helped out in a hospital on the campus we stayed.
A small part of our team is going back to Prot au Prince to work there with young adults to train them in our methods because they are working with children from different areas from Port au Prince. A story which touched me there, was a young lawyer telling me: „Listen, I think the earthquake has also a chance for us Haitians, it could bring us back together and lets us start from the nothing, to build our own future.“ Asking him, if believes that it would happen as he wishes he says: „I fear people are to busy with their daily struggle and not concisely enough about their new chances in building an independent country.“
On my birthday I got a great present from my new won friends. A new born youth group „Nouvelle Vision“ sung me a beautiful birthday song and hold me high up in the air. Afterwards we went to their destroyed houses and made short video clips with them. The story of 14 year old Rose-Mica kept me thinking and thinking. Her family had a small small hut, 4 by 5 meters which collapsed. Asking her how many people she was living in there, she couldn't tell because she was unable to count, later I found out that except her name she couldn't write as well. She is asking children and youth in Germany to help her to go to school again and give her parents work. She still had all the fear in her eyes was shy looking around her while we spoke. Asking about her future, she couldn't say anything and said that till two years nothing will change and happen except our activities tomorrow. I hope that she will find the strength to deal with her life and that future bears some happiness for her to come.
Being back in Germany feels strange, the earth isn't shaking anymore as it used to do at least once a day; there is so much more to do. Building temporary schools for children will take at least until End of April and less to no psycho-social support is there to help especially children. The cities of Leogan and Port au Prince are full of homeless people, tones of rubble are laying around, I just hope people around the world wont forget the shaken country of Haiti and help in a true and honest way to rebuild it, otherwise we will face more of these tragic catastrophes in one of the poorest countries in this world.

All pics by Michael Schnur

The Haitian and German Team together

at work

my birthday

Story about me

A short story by Finn Jesch, written after I tolled him, what I love to do and where I get my energy from. Enjoy and thanks to Finn!

My car is finally road worthy for the long journey ahead. My family have joined me to wish me farewell, some of my friends are there too.
Together we load the car with carpenters tools of all shapes and sizes, each having been made for specific purpose.
As important are the toys, there are several coloured balls and a parachute which is cavity to be held by a group of children is a wish.
The tank is loaded but it will be needed to be filled many more tomes to make the long journey to Mongolia.
On my way I will use my skilled hands to work the tools and I will teach children games, in return I hope to see a smile on a young girls face. I want to help young people to do what they really want to do and to help those that are less fortunate or face difficulties in life.
I am privileged but that's not what is important, to me a gift can be a 19 years old boy telling me his life story, I will listen with wide eyes, as the light dives at dusk.
I will collect stories which I will take with me on my way back home over the Caucasian mountains.