- Homepage photo used under creative commons licensing. Original author can be found here.
On Sunday, the people of Simon in Cite Soleil congregated at the new structure that they want to use as a Community Kitchen. At the moment, the building is as empty as their stomachs. Their goal was to find a way to speak directly to communities outside of Haiti. They have pleaded with NGOs for food and water, without success. Their situation is deteriorating, as is the case throughout Haiti.
And so they wrote their simple message on the best blackboard to be found in Simon: “In the name of the organization, DAD, we, the population of PCS-Pelé-Simon, we are waiting for aid for the Community Kitchen.”
The Community Kitchen is the neighbourhood’s plan to lay the groundwork for the future while addressing the current crises. There is so little money circulating in Port-au-Prince that many people are no longer able to provide for those who once depended upon them. The most vulnerable people have become the prey of those who have the means to buy food. Children are especially vulnerable to physical and sexual exploitation, in return for a morcel of food. If the Kitchen could guarantee all of the most vulnerable people in Simon one hot meal each day, then the cycle of exploitation would be broken. The food will be bought from peasants who already have links to the people in Simon. Cooks, busboys, and waitresses will be hired from amongst the people now at risk. By rotating the staff, as many people as possible from the neighbourhood will have a salary. The Kitchen will be a place to nourish both individuals and the community.
The local men built the structure with the Irish NGO, Haven, in anticipation of the funding to realize the project. On Sunday, Jhony of DAD (Dialogue pour l’action et le développement) received the Kitchen’s first donation: 450 $US from Canada Haiti Action Network. That someone was listening, after all, raised the spirits of the whole community. They decided that they must speak directly to Canadians rather than through all of the intermediaries that are deaf to their needs: NGOs, the state, and media. So they have sent these photographs. This, they feel, is the closest that they can come to actually speaking with Canadians.
The people of Simon are not concerned with the national status of those who come to their aid. Since our postings are sometimes diffused on Canadian websites, we are appealing primarily to Canadians. However, this is not a national, and certainly not a nationalist, project. We are thankful to have friends in other countries who do not bind themselves to their political jurisdictions. The plight of the people of Simon, and all neighbourhoods like it in this age of globalization, touches everyone.
Canadians have already donated much money for humanitarian aid, both privately and through their taxes. Not one cent of those donations has arrived in Simon. Here are the people. They are hungry. They are in need. They have a great plan to survive the present while laying a foundation for their future. The people who assembled to have their photograph taken have total confidence that their friends who have developed the plan are responsible and trustworthy. Canadians could not be more certain that their donations will be effectively used. Moreover, this site will continue to report on the process of the Community Kitchen. This represents a level of transparency unknown in government, NGO, and media circles.
We suggest that Canadians insist that a tiny percentage of the money that they have already donated be invested in Simon in support of the Community Kitchen. That would be enough to relieve the hunger in this neighbourhood.
Over the last few months, we have written to a number of Canadian NGOs asking for help. We have had no success whatsoever. We suggest that people write to CECI or UNICEF and ask that they fund the project.
Chris Tidey, the Public Relations Officer at UNICEF, has been aware of the problems in Simon for some time. I suspect that if UNICEF understood that Canadians wanted their donations to be used to promote this project, then someone from that NGO might contact the people of Simon. Their contact information is [email protected]
Although the people at CECI have not yet acknowledged our correspondence, the Community Kitchen falls squarely within their mission and they have people in place in Port-au-Prince. Mario Renaud, director of CECI, has been informed of this project. He can be reached at [email protected]
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