Conversations with the Living: The Haitian AIDS Crisis

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Archive for the ‘Child Abuse’ Category

Production Diary: Day 43 + 2 YEARS

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20:21 PST: Well it is day 43 in NYC, technically still day 42 here in LA, but I have been a little silent for the past week, as I have been digging my heels in and trying to get some more interviews set up.

I want to piggyback on ML’s post from a couple of days ago about our phone interview with Tim Collie, who is a former writer at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, where he produced print and web-based work on the Caribbean and the Middle East for 11 years. 
He spent several years in Haiti, Israel and throughout Latin America. We were interested in speaking with him, because of his work focused on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Caribbean, which can be found in his piece AIDS orphans and an earlier project focused on the environmental collapse in Haiti entitled, The Eroding Nation.

We were originally introduced to Tim Collie from Aaron Jackson, founder and President of Planting Peace, mentioned in my previous post. Aaron runs a series of programs in Haiti addressing numerous issues, including a de-worming project, deforestation and a small network of orphanages, one which specifically houses HIV+ children.

Tim approached Aaron while working on his AIDS orphans piece for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and visited his orphanage along with the two other HIV orphanages in Haiti, the Comfort House and Rainbow House. All of these facilities provide housing, medical care, food and education to the often hidden victims of the epidemic – the children infected and affected by the disease, and a large part of our film’s focus.

Reiterated throughout our correspondence with the experts working to help these children is the fact that Haiti’s struggle with this epidemic will be a long, underfunded and under-recognized one, however they have made progress in the past and the children they have assisted have learned that they can live, and project themselves into the future – learning, playing and dreaming like all children in Haiti. It is these children’s place in the future of Haiti and the many issues affecting the nation that make this relentless group of activists, advocates and patients unique.

Aaron suggested that Tim was an expert on the subject of HIV+ orphans and that his experience and insight would be of incredible use to us as we continue to complete a series of interviews and acquire information that we will need as we approach our return to Haiti.

Tim was in fact a wealth of knowledge, revealing the lives of HIV infected children living in orphanages, in the streets and many times as restavecs (household slaves), with hope and dignity, while never losing the sense of urgency and painful reality of their situations. All of these children are generally denied family support and schooling, because of the stigma and myths surrounding AIDS in Haiti, and their lives embody Haiti – its past, present and future – they demand our attention and fuel the necessity for action.

The notes are being finalized and implemented as we continue to reach out to the co-founder and operator of day-to-day activities at Planting Peace, John Dieubon, and GHESKIO in order to gain the necessary access to tell the stories of these children and the network of people in Haiti working to succeed in the fight against HIV.

On another note, ML was here in LA for a couple days and we were able to meet up, talk a little shop and relax a bit. It was great to see him and I hope to get out to NYC soon to meet up with the other half of Conversations.

As always, will keep you all posted.



CWTL Production Diary: Day 40 + 2 Years

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17:36 PST: LC set up a very informative and useful interview with a journalist named Tim Collie who has spent extensive time in Haiti dealing with everything from politics to HIV orphans. LC did most of the interrogating. There are so many layers to the travails if HIV positive orphans in Haiti, from how they end up as ‘orphans’ in the first place (the Haitian definition is much more flexible than most people would be used to) to some actual advantages they are offered as a result of their situation. The talk drove home how much background work we still have left but also his much we’ve accomplished. In the 2 years we’ve been working on this, we’ve become something of experts ourselves.

Meeting LC tonight and tomorrow. Will be good to touch base in person. Also meeting with BH our sound man. It seems like ages since we did our first interviews at UCLA. Now where’s GC?

Written by conversationswiththeliving

February 12, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Red Tape Slows Haitian Adoptions

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Again, I have very mixed feelings about the deluge of outsiders attempting to adopt Haitian children in the wake of January 12th. On one hand, it’s obvious that these orphaned kids need families and a chance to rebuild their lives. If foreigners are sincere about wanting to help these children and it’s not because its fashionable, then I’m okay with it. If however, the adoptive parents intentions are fueled by liberal guilt or the need to rescue “savages” from themselves, then I’m emphatically against it.

I may sound like a cynic, but I know what my experiences have been as a Haitian growing up in the US for the past 35+ years. Even through my travels through the corridors of some of this country’s most prestigious institutes of higher learning, I was always met with a sense of derision from my more priviledged (read:White) counterparts. Somehow or someway, they always felt the need to “advise” me of life situations and give me “guidance” on issues that weren’t their concern or simply none of their business. I always felt their actions were due in part to my flag waving Haitian status and inevitably I would be proven right.

I don’t mean to sound like such a sour puss, especially in the face of what can potentially be one of the kindest and most humanitarian acts one can perform for a child, but I know what I’ve seen and what I believe. Anyway, please see this piece on how red tape is slowing the completion of many adoptions in and around Port Au Prince.

With the complicated history of Western powers, Imperialism, and Colonialism in the Caribbean, I think my suspicions are well founded. What do you think?

Red Tape Slows Haitian Adoptions

Gede Greg C.

Suspected Kidnappers Say It Ain’t So

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Please check out this account from one of the 10 Baptist “missionaries” arrested in Haiti for suspected kidnapping of Haitian children. Yup, we’re talking about Laura Silsby and her righteous bunch. It’s interesting to hear what they’re take is on the situation. I, for one, am extremely skeptical of what their intentions were. Whether or not they were legitimate, I get extremely offended when Westerners, in particular, White westerners feel that they have the divine right to make decisions for the black and brown people in “uncivilized” nations.

Either way, here is the account below. Mind you, the source for the story is the Florida Baptist Witness, so I suggest readers ingest a huge block of salt before proceeding.

Suspected Kidnappers Say It Ain’t So

Gede Greg C.

Number Of Rapes Rising In Haitian Tent Towns

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I wrote a few posts on this some time ago, but again the reports of rapes on young females in PAP and outling regions is on the rise. There’s not much one can say to justify or even make sense of such heinous acts. Pleasse refer to the story in the hristian Science Monitor.

Number of Rape Reports Rise In Haiti

Gede Greg C.

Haitian Adoptions Lengthy and Worthwhile Process

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I ran into this piece about a family that has been adopting kids out of Haiti both pre and post quake. I think adoption is one of the noblest things a human being can do. That said, adopting children from Haiti and countries like it can be tricky as there have been many abuses made by adoptees and crooked adoption agencies working with impoverished countries. There will always be a question of intent on the adoptees’ part, and rightfully so when dealing with human lives. I’m interested in seeing what your opinions on this issue are.

Haitian Adoptions Lengthy and Worthwhile Process

Gede Greg C.

Ridiculous Decision

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In a flightof stupidity that must have been influenced by some outside forces (read scared government officials), Judge Bernard Saint-Vil has dismissed kidnapping and criminal association charges against the 10 American  missionaries who attempted to smuggle a busload of Haitian kids into the Dominican Republic. Ring leader Laura Silsby still faces lesser charges of trying to organize the illegal busride.

Personally I find this decision outrageous and symbolic of the continuous kowtowingto the superpowers that a segment of the Haitianpopulation are notorious for. I wonder if there was some kind of coercion that went on behind this.

Ridiculous Decision

Gede Greg C.