Mud Pies & Kites

Mud Pies & Kites

After six trips to Haiti during the country’s most tumultuous year in it’s long tortured history, I was left with countless images that are forever seared into my mind…the endless mutilated crush victims, the horrendous living conditions, the sick, dying and dead…yet, for me, all that I have witnessed can be best encapsulated in two simple and common objects, a mud pie and a kite, that speak plainly and clearly to both the despair and the hope I found in Haiti.

On my desk in my library I have a mud pie I brought home from Haiti. I could never imagine being so hungry and so broke that I had to resort to eating something made from mud and contaminated water, something so vile it could make me very sick or even kill me. A mud pie symbolizes, for me, the extreme poverty of so many Haitians. Mud pies are baked in ovens of anguish and hopelessness.

I will never forget my first visit to Cité Soleil, the worst slum in Port-au-Prince. The devastation, the tin shacks, the rotting trash, the spewing sewage, a little girl urinating in the garbage, a woman defecating in the open, naked kids with bloated bellies running barefoot through pig-infested mud…it was all too-much to take in. And then there was the fetid and nauseating stench that was intensified by the blistering heat. The nightmarish slum literally assaulted my senses, left me feeling helpless and emotionally wrought.

And then, all of a sudden and totally unexpectedly, something fun and joyful caught my eye and filled me with hope. It was a makeshift kite fashioned out of a plastic garbage bag. It seemed to laugh and dance in the Caribbean breeze that momentarily kept it awkwardly aloft. Other kites were made out of soiled paper plates.

In a place that made no sense, a kite was something I could understand. The kids and the kites lifted my spirits. It showed me how imagination could lift the human spirit out of the muck of sadness and hopelessness. The endurance and innocence of the children countered the madness and injustice of the adults.

And so mud pies and kites came to symbolize the death and resurrection that is a daily event in Haiti.


1 Response to “Mud Pies & Kites”

  1. 1 defh6 February 8, 2011 at 6:20 am

    one is reminded, of the interview. Jean Bertrande Aristde. ex president of Haiti. did with Al Jazerra. about the role of the IMF.

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