Filed under: From Haiti, Haitian Artists, human rights haiti, humanitarian aid, orphanages haiti, poverty in haiti, steph forster, steph leigh limage, sustainable community haiti, voices of haiti | Tags: foster care programmes haiti
a few months ago we started bringing food to a small tent city that was near our home. this particular tent city had about 50 tents but 5 – 7 people per tent including women, children and the elderly who have been squatting on the small piece of land that resembles a garbage dump. i went to canada for 2 weeks and just got back to find all but 4 tents remaining in the camp. when i asked around i found out the govt paid them 300 USD to leave and go elsewhere. this is a pattern that is taking place all over the capital. the tents around the palace have also been evicted.. the reason for this in the local paper is a music festival the govt is putting on at the end of july with local haitian artists. normally i would love and endorse any type of arts festival but in this case i feel it was a sad excuse to evict my friends who have already lost everything and were living in horrific conditions. its beyond me who could start their life over from nothing on 300 bucks in a place like this that is already beyond over populated. if the famalies are lucky they may find dwellings in the slums that surround the city and make up a majority of the down town core .
around christmas time i was robbed and through the gps on my iphone that was in the loot the robber took i tracked him with mobile me online to his house. the house was in a slum outside of the capital and for the first time i was exposed to some of the “relocation camps” which were horrific. these relocation camps are far from resources and some of them are so far from the capital that i have no idea how the govt expects these people to sustain there long term.
the whole thing just breaks my heart… i guess you are familiar with the term ” out of site out of mind”…. thats how i feel many of my haitian friends are. over the past 9 months i have been living here full-time i have tried to create awareness surrounding many of the barriers the poor and displaced in haiti have with some luck but not on the scale i had envisioned ..which brings me back to my original mission.. the film.. the film i came here to make and have been sitting on for nearly a year now. after a few fancy offers from american studios that wanted to completley dereail my pshycological positioning and story line of the film i walked away with my tail between my legs feeling as if i would not obtain the neccassary funding for mass distrubution and be stuck trying to “crowd” fund it through indiegogo or kick starter dot com… as you know i already have to do a great deal of fundraising for our outreach programs and general expenses so to be honest i became very unmotivated in the creative dept and weighed down with logistics of food shipments and distribution.
i had an email a few months back and the person said ” i hope u are sharing jesus when you feed these people” but the thing is you cant even have a basic conversation with some one who has not eaten in days. i found this when we have street kids come by a few times during the week that we pick up and take come..i would try to talk and pray with them and often they would nod off into a sleep after a few minutes..which as you can imagine became quite frustrating. i then realized if i wanted to talk with them i had to feed them first…which helped the attention span but after about 30 min they would nod off again..which also got me upset but then i realized that the reason they were falling asleep on my patio with burning ciggarettes in their hands was because they felt safe here and could finally relax.
i cant imagine its easy to get a solid rest when you sleep outdoors especially in a place like Port Au Prince. After a few failed attempts to take in one of the children we were working with/reaching out to i realized that the model i based the whole Child Relocation Project on ( www.haitiloverevolution.org) was a recipe for disaster and needed to find an alternative solution/revamp the project..which i did. also these kids that we were taking in were stealing from us and are very good manipulators and i realized i was in way over my head.
for some one who came with the objective to bring immediate aid after a major natural disaster and make a feature documentary about it to move into the country where you were just planning on shooting a film in to expose truth is a whole other feature documentary in its self..hence the brain farts with my story boards for the film and the objectives.
going back to the sharing jesus part when feeding people… for one to understand fully what it is like to be literally starving would be the first way to try to relay the simple fact that when we hand out meal kits in the tent city we dont get to talk to people, its a riot, pushing , screaming, hitting and verbal abuse to us and those who are in front of them in the line up..that is if we can maintain enough order to keep a line formation… the food programme is not some thing i ever expected to start or being doing but here in haiti it is a big deal if you can eat everyday and we had to remedy that immediate need for our friends to worry about where their next meal was coming from and give them some peace and relief… i wouldn’t want a 14 year old girl to go prositute her self to support her family in her tent just so they can eat..so the food helps but it doesnt solve their problems.
with the weight of what to do about these street kids on my shoulders and what they really needed to move forward in life … i went to god in prayer for over a month. i cried, i fasted, i screamed at God, i nearly gave up believing in god all together and then one day it hit me… why not find haitian foster families that can actually deal with children such as these in their own culture and not some foreigner in a mixed marriage trying to rehabilitate them… after i realized that foster care was a better option than an institution i then prayed for the right people to simply present them selves to me with out me searching.. and that happend several months ago..
we were working with a christian rap group in the studio here and got to talking with the christian married couple ( the lead singer in the group). he shared his testimony with me and it turned out he has known my husband for several years now. Perry is his name… and Perry has a crazy testimony from leaving the gang life on the streets of haiti and doing a 180 with god… over the months we got to know perry , his wife and children. i began to realize that they would make an amazing foster family for a few of the boys ( especially the ones that are professional thieves) . i stayed at perry’s place in the ghetto for 3 days trying to see what they were like at home and see how he talked to his kids and wife… the results were amazing.. i have never been more received by anyone..in-fact you can go a few posts back and see photos of perry and his family from the weekend i am referring to. over the past months we have grown to be great friends with this family and they have been a huge support to us in times of need in our own marriage . so with this said we approached perry with the idea of building the first house on our land here in SANTO PAP for him and his family to move to a safer area that is away from the gang violence of his current neighbourhood and then foster 2 of the children we have on our list. they loved the idea and said even if they didn’t relocate to our land they would take the kids…but i choose to wait because the area they currently live in is not some where the kids can stay out of trouble. the house they have also is only one step up from basically living on the street so its not an environment that is conducive to rehabilitating children.
so i prayed about it several times and then last week a friend of mine in AB Canada told me to write a proposal for the costs involved in building the first house, clearing the land, laying the foundation, building a proper latrine and water system…which is about 5grand..not allot to change a few lives.. so i am praying day and night for that to happen for the proposal to be accepted so we can get the first house built and start relocating the kids.
now going back to my original mission, my film VOIX DU HAITI… its done, and finally after many months i got my creative fires burning again thanks to my old proff from Vancouver Film School. we met up in Toronto last weekend and he inspired me to organize my shot lists and submit it to the editor for the final cut and gave me some connections i needed to funding. so now i know in my heart of hearts that this film for what ever reason is important to God and important to haiti and i am just going to pump it out no matter how i think people will view me or the content or my shooting style…i just need to fulfil the mission and tell the story the best i can and know i did my part aside from the feeding programme and these homeless kids.
i guess i was frozen and now feel the creative floodgate has opened again..the ice is melting… seeing people suffering and all this political BS can really put a damper on things in the creative dept but i got too sucked in and have to work daily to not get sucked back into the pain, sorrow and misery its a bottomless pit once you let it overtake you..i also heard a sermon about jonah and how god told him to go talk to a group of people and he tried to bail out and that didn’t work out so well for him and god put him where he was supposed to be and i feel like that, i tried to escape god but here we are now finally hand in hand and i am night fighting him anymore about the fact he wants me in haiti right now.
anyways i am heading to the tent city now..or whats left of it to see where some of my friends ended up after their buy out …
if you want to help get the first house for Perry and his family to start fostering 2 of the boys we know from the streets then you can donate here www.haitiloverevolution.org where you can get a tax receipt or you can drop me a personal email firstname.lastname@example.org
Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment