Volunteers: Sarah Liane Foster and Zuzka Sabata, along with Jacko, Simon, David, and Elise of Clowns Sans Frontieres Canada
In September of 2004, Hurricane Jeanne crossed the western section of Haiti and the Artibonite, causing torrential rains and resultant flooding. Gonaïves was the most seriously affected city, where over 2,800 people lost their lives. Residents are without access to clean water, food, and sanitation. There is still sporadic political strife due to last year’s coup de etat against Aristide; in February 2004, a rebel group called the National Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Haiti seized the city and burned the police station. Now, there is no local government or police force in Gonaïves, and it’s the UN and NGOs that are holding everything together.
We call what we’re doing an “anti-stresse” mission, because in Creole the term “anti-stresse” signifies fighting against trauma, grief and hardship. The mission feels like a success: the children running after the truck as we drive away from the schools are laughing, waving, making silly faces. We have also left them with an experience of white people who were not proselytizing or in some kind of official role, but who were there to play and engage with them.