Elizabeth McMahon

Elizabeth McMahon gives her thoughts on Haiti and highlights the differences between urban and rural life in the country.

“My first impression of Haiti was that Port-au-Prince, Haiti and Chauffard, Haiti are two completely separate worlds, both with their own problems.  The city was what you would expect, full of polluted air, chaos, rubble and remains from earthquake damaged buildings everywhere.  The pictures and reports from Haiti at least were accurate about that.  It was easy to see how disease like cholera spread so quickly in the unsanitary conditions the still homeless people were forced to live in.  But what people don’t really know about was what we we able to see in Chauffard.  

At a glance, it may seem that the mountains went almost untouched during the earthquake because the damage seemed less extensive as there were less buildings to collapse and that the people were able to continue to live as they always had.  But that was the problem… the people of Chauffard and the surrounding areas in the mountains continue to live how our ancestors lived in the States and Europe hundreds of years ago.  They walk everywhere with inadequate footwear up and down the sides of steep, rocky mountain paths.  Whether or not they have food to eat depended on how well their crops grew and what they were able to trade for.  It’s hard to believe in this day and age that people continue to live without the modern conveniences that we have, that women still have babies without going to the hospital to do it or people live to be 90 without assitence from modern medicine and are even still able walk up and down mountains.

What struck me most, however, is that the people seemed more or less happy with their lives.  They took pride in being able to show us their best clothing when they came in for visits and everyone went away with a smile and a thank you even if we were unable to help them. They were all just very grateful that we could come and help them and that they weren’t forgotten.  But we need to do more to show them that they are not.  While Port-au-Prince continues to need our help, the people of Chauffard need it just as much if not more.  In the world we live in today, it just doesn’t seem right that people continue to live as they do, without access to most basic things like good food, clean water, education and medicine.”

Elizabeth McMahon looks after a baby from Chauffard