After 46 years, fear return
Memories came back, every single
corner of house
an old fire station.
A work in progress: trust
the seams of her soul-
It's dangerous; its dark program
She will always return to house
and rebuild it
like a dream.
Photography by Manuel Cosentino
Original article here: I've created a different story from erasing words in the same order, without adding any word. In part:
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI—It’s 7 a.m. and Michaëlle Jean is bouncing — bright-eyed and bursting with
enthusiasm — in the back of a United Nations truck to her first appointment of another packed day.
After four years of searching, she found her childhood home last week. The one she snuck out of 46 years ago, for
fear the Tonton Macouteswould return again for her father and, this time, finish him off.
“We knocked, there was a woman there. I asked her if I can come in,” she recalls, as all around us the city groggily
pulls itself from bed.
“I was like a kid, I was so excited. So many memories came back to me: every single corner of that house, the
staircase, the rooms, the balcony … My mother used to rock me on her lap on the balcony.”
“There is an old tradition of plant doctors in Haiti, who grow special botanical products,” Jean says. “If
production can be raised to a standard quality, Haiti could access a $67-billion market.”
A renovated fire station, the creation of a consortium of universities working in Haiti, the electrification of the
Citadel, food canteens in poor neighbourhoods — it’s hard to keep track of Jean’s projects, she has so many in the
works. They might seem disparate, she admits, but they all reinforce the government’s own “very focused”
“I see what they’ve delivered with the little leverage they’ve got. People say you have to earn trust, but how long
does it take?” she says.
“It’s always going to be a work in progress. I think if people can trust Haiti more, trust the government of Haiti,
trust the Haitian plan like they pretended they would, instead of taking the same old approach of ‘we’ll take care of it in our own way’ …”
As her car bounces through the city’s congested suburbs, frustration and enthusiasm pour from Jean. She races
after her thoughts in English, then French, then English again. This, I think, is why she is still so treasured in
Canada: she is surprisingly honest and disarmingly emotional. She bustles all the seams of her soul into her work.
When a group of little girls with hot pink bows bouncing in their hair flash through the windshield, she bursts:
“We need to make sure these children are walking to institutions of quality … I was in Jalousie (shantytown). I
couldn’t even imagine children studying in the school we saw. It is a hazard. It’s dangerous, it’s dark. Oh no, really, no….”
We are on our way to a school in Grand-Goâve, a small town near the epicentre of the 2010 earthquake. The
teachers there are taking professional development courses taught by Quebec university professors. This
program, she funds.
“This country is endlessly fascinating and occasionally frustrating,” she says. “I am always in
that space of how much can be done and what this country has to offer.”
Her term ends this fall. She is considering her next move, perhaps to the Organisation
International de la Francophonie.
But she will always return to Haiti, she says, just like she always returns to Canada. They are
both her homes now. “If I could only buy that house and rebuild it,” she says. “I don’t have the money to do that.
But it’s like a dream.
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