After a heavy rainfall the night before, streets in Port-au-Prince are filled with mud and dirty puddles of stagnant water. In those puddles you will find all kinds of stuff floating, the stench overpowering. The air is filled with microscopic particles that settle on your skin, clothes and under your fingernails, if you’re walking, the trip is a truly a battle when you try to negotiate your way around all this mud, trash and excrements. Cars trying to avoid obstacles will splash dirty water on you if you’re not alert. This is purgatory or hell, and we still talk and act as if the abnormal is okay.
It is not normal that Delmas is overrun with piles of garbage at every corner daily, and persons have to resort to setting them on fire. It is not normal in the twenty first century that persons breathe garbage burning because no one picks it up. It is not normal when persons buy food from a large tray serving items cooked in open air on charcoal stoves next to piles of smelly garbage. It is not normal that mud and dirty pools of water are inside the open air market where most people buy meat and vegetables, yet at Croix des Bossales, the biggest open air market in Haiti it’s like that all the time. For us to continue living like this is abnormal and we need to do something about it. We bristle with anger when foreign reporters expose our dirty reality, when they show how the people live. Many of us even complain that these foreigners are sabotaging tourism by not showing the beautiful beaches and resorts in Haiti, as opposed to always presenting the ugliness. Lest we forget, the ugly environment we allow to fester is real. There is garbage on the road leading to the beach, and let’s not talk about the water. In Haiti, many of our compatriots live like animals, with garbage and excrement everywhere, smelly and putrid. We act as if it’s ok since “these people” are not our friends or relatives. Yet in Thomassin, where mostly the well to do live, piles of trash are on the main road, blocking traffic and hindering persons walking. Instead of the smell of pine trees and vegetation, you smell garbage and dung. While driving through rich and poor look at and smell the same sh-t, so it’s a problem shared equally by all, regardless of social status.
It is time to stop the madness. It’s time for us to come together and do something about it.
#cleanupHaiti2024 is not a project that I want to start. I do not have the strength, resources and the capacity to lead such an effort. It must be an idea that many of us will help become a reality by starting an avalanche of groups dedicated to making our country a better place. Each group will choose a small town or a neighborhood within a larger town to implement a practice of cleaning the environment. Each group must be autonomous with no one being an over all leader. This is not a personal program to earn kudos, but rather it must become a movement to eradicate trash from our daily lives. We need to come together as a people, while working separately with the goal of getting something done by 2024. I’m asking all of you who read this post to begin thinking about this and how you can participate.
#cleanupHaiti2024. Make it viral.