As he returned from the mountain above Seguin, the old man trundled down a dirt path heading toward a nearby stream. Back in the days, a drink from the spring would have been a welcome break, thirst quenched, but nowadays with pollution and the threat of Cholera he would only splash his face and chest with the water, the source of life polluted and desecrated. A young man sitting on a rock looked curiously at this old man dressed in a flowing robe, like a monk, ambling toward him. The morning was cool and in the distance a few clouds hovered.
“Hey pop, what’s up?”
– “I’ve been looking for the meaning of self.” The answer left the young guy puzzled. How do you look for self? He wondered, looking at the old man.
“Well, I hope you found it,” he answered.
– “Do you know yourself?”
– “Of course I do. My name is Guy, Guy Laterre. I’m a teacher in the village nearby, although I haven’t been paid for two years,” he added ruefully.
– “Yes, that’s your name and profession but do you know yourself?”
-“I already told you who I am. What else is there?”
-“To know yourself is to know your fears, your limitations and your purpose in life.”
– “Whats there to know. Everyone fears death, and our purpose is to survive and reproduce.” The young man answered earnestly.
-“Fear is constant. We don’t fear death because we don’t know what it is. We fear the unknown. We realize that we are limited by our lifespan, so we spend life running around looking to achieve the most while we really accomplish very little.”
-“I think you’re crazy, old man. Who cares what happens after you die? You just make sure you live your life and don’t hurt nobody.”
-“Our purpose is to find the reason for our existence. Your name and the job you do are only labels carried throughout life, but is that the sum of existence. What will onlookers remember of you when you pass away? All your earthly beliefs will disappear along with all earthly possessions you’ve managed to amass avariciously. Yet these represent significant parts of what you call self. We can survive and exist as you say, but we will not fulfill any worthwhile goal. Once you know your goal in life you will have found your purpose.” With these words the old man walked away toward the spring.
In Haiti confinement is followed by some while the government which started out on a good note is sending mixed messages. On the one hand some of the municipal governments have cleaned and disinfected some streets, marketplaces and gutters but citizens still have to scrounge around for water. This necessary ingredient is only available to the few via faucet three or four times a week, while the majority of the population has no access to regular running water. St Michel de L’ Attalaye is a town in the department of L’ Artibonite that has been quarantined by the authorities because of Covid 19, but little in terms of food supplies, running water and medical supplies have been provided to the residents.
In the beginning of Covid 19 all factories, non essential business and schools, including universities, and places of worship were closed by the authorities. These actions probably slowed the progress of the disease and Haiti has been fortunate to avoid the pandemic which has affected the Dominican Republic in greater fashion with a few hundred cases. But now factories have reopened to make money for our business elite. Covi 19 may find the opportunity to hit Haiti hard because recent activities are putting the country at risk. The government is still gathering people and exposing them to germ transmission by lining them up at close quarters, with people pushing and shoving to get their ID cards made. Food distributions to people confined have been ridiculous, with people lined up for a small amount of rice and some spaghetti. After waiting for a couple of hours in the sun, some people threw the small bag of items away in anger. All of this exposed those people in line. The factories have reopened for the most part even before the government allowed it. According to Mr. St Eloi, a union leader in the textile industry, the factories have provided little in terms of protection against the corona virus. If we remember how those factories violated all labor standards in the past we have to wonder about their promise to keep the employees safe. The government is playing with fire because people will be rubbing elbows getting to work and carrying out their jobs. All because the factory owners are the biggest supporters of Jovenel Moise. The early efforts of containment and sanitation can be for naught if the authorities continue giving in to a political agenda and allowing factory owners to dictate health policy. Opening factories is more important than resuming school activities even online.