Posted by: petertluce | April 3, 2009

Grand Ravin Community Human Rights Council Meeting

I put this blog together in my head as I walked around the area taking pictures, getting money and attending a meeting on Friday.

What was on my mind is the controversy over home demolition here in PAP, specifically, last summer in Cité Soleil, and recently close to where I’m staying in Delmas 10 plus in Petionville.

It is reminiscent of home demolition in Gaza because it is the government bulldozing homes without any recourse on the part of the dwellers.

Some say that the government must have the right to take property for installing, e.g. a police and UN barracks (Cité Soleil). Some are upset that poor folks have broken zoning laws by building on the sidewalks and violating code regulations. There are those, and I naturally tend in this direction, that see this as a matter of social justice, 1)anyone is entitled to recourse and compensation; 2)the forced immigration of hordes of poor from the countryside into the cities was only to cater to the monied class’s interests (ruining local crops and spawning sweatshops in the cities).We did issue a complaint last year, but have not been involved in this year’s actions.

Our car broke down as it went to get me at the airport Thursday, not for the first time. That’s why I’m documenting the road conditions a bit here as the basis for having to mount a campaign to buy another automobile.

As I walk around the ‘hood and live the life of ordinary folks, I certainly can identify with the plight of the poor. Houses on top of one another, absolutely no open space. Pictured first left above is the street where I live. Next down is a fairly common washed out street which we have to navigate everyday to get to the office. Next is the water trough–no running water in any of these dwellings. Cold water bird baths are what we have to give ourselves. Electricity is on now almost every day for a couple of hours, a little more on Sunday. But then it comes and goes without notice. Our push for solar energy has made us self-reliant. (See further in this post.) And tonight the next door neighbor has started up the noisiest electric generator I’ve ever heard. I can only hope it will shut down so I can sleep.

And back to the theme of fear. It’s really so true about the worst fear of all is fear itself. I said I was beginning to fear being here–due to lack of being in touch mainly and listening to the bad stories–but now even though conditions have probably not changed all that much, I’m not afraid. Today we–an AUMOHD person– walked to the bank, about 15 minutes through the elbow to elbow crowds on market streets and we walked back with a bunch of cash, split between the two of us. This person shrugged off the idea that there might be a problem but he went along with my idea of splitting the cash so that we might save at least half of it in case of a heist or kidnapping (I’m really not hysterical, believe me.) It was pretty hot and crowded as usual. But everyone was so civil and responsive to my “bonjour”.

The culmination of the day was meeting with 3 reps from the Grand Ravin CHRC, Marc-Lucann Ducasse, Patrick Estimphil, and Jean Ernest Point du Jour. Marvelous, thoughful persons with the same dedication and skill and concern I’ve seen consistently with the Grand Ravin and other CHRC’s. These are experts without the credentials in non-violent justice advocacy. If only we could get a smidgin of the funding that so many other undertakings receive. I’m thinking of the USAID funded operations for weapons and defense for one example. These men recounted the numerous shootings of innocents just in the recent past and how they are still succeeding in negotiating with armed men to cease the violence. They were very happy with the justice Tees I brought. They want visibility to help them be recognized and respected. They are ready to open an office for which we will be donating the first CHRC solar powered communication system.

Finally back home Saidel, Evel’s brother and the techie among us went at the new solar equipment donated from Namaste Solar–Stephen Kane co-owner. I was able to read the manual and find out at least for my amateur mind what it was for. It’s called the “Booster” and by that they mean it captures energy, conserves and distributes energy from solar panels in a much more efficient manner. That’s good enough for me.

We’ve been using a tiny (red box in the picture) “inverter” and jury-rigged (is that just for nautical makeshift?) electrical connections. The solar power is still outlasting the public utility power even though it is on more regularly than when I first was here.

It’s now 10 pm and the devilish diesel electric generator which came on right under my window around 6pm is relentessly banging my eardrums. Will I ever sleep? Do we take out a suit against the neighbors for noise pollution–and air pollution? Do we go over and smash it? Maybe they would be marvelling at our silent and free solar system and would gladly buy their own!


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