From the crowded, dirty, chaotic streets of Port-au-Prince we drive into the clean, organized and safe UN base to meet with the senior country directors of UNDP (UN Development Program). They told us about the general current efforts of the UNDP, their aid for the elections and other obstacles the UN is facing. In response to the recent anti-UN sentiment going around the country, they told us that their own tests showed no indication that the Nepalese soldiers are responsible for the cholera outbreak, while the international evidence is piling up in favor. The UN downplayed it as a political manipulation in light of the upcoming elections. It became clear development is a slow, frustrating, immensely difficult and long process. At the base there were 500 people working 7 days a week to help Haiti a step forward, but considering the criticism, is it really effective? “We have to remain optimistic”, the director responded.
After the talk we went to “The Deck” for some lunch. One of the most interesting and somehow shocking experiences: all the white people, we saw nowhere in Haiti, gathered there, eating some really good food. Everything was readily available from Steak to Calamari to Burrito’s while just across the street people are eating mudpies to stay alive… It’s a country of huge contrasts.
By Anne van Bruggen (firstname.lastname@example.org)