Monday, 29 November 2010

Bonjou Ayiti!

All of a sudden I‘m torn out of my dreams by all those chickens clucking and fighting over their breakfast grain. It must be almost six o‘clock in the morning... and step by step I realise that a new day in the SOS Children‘s Village in Santo is about to begin.

"There is only one armed force in the children‘s village of Cap Haitien: the mosquitos", says my Haitian co-worker Samy, asked whether he knows how much the village was affected by the tense social situation in Haiti. After riots in this northern city, official buildings stayed closed for some days, children of the SOS Children‘s Village in Cap Haitien did not attend school last week. News about riots and conflicts in this country spread around the world, while I am spending my first few days here. So far nothing has threatened us in the village, but there are some security measures to be taken.

While the tension rises in Port-au-Prince, the children inside the SOS Children's Village Santo feel safe. Photo: Sophie Preisch

The presidential elections on Sunday 28 November ended in confusion and allegations of fraud. Houses, walls and ruins in the capital Port-au-Prince are still covered with posters of the 19 candidates. UN-peacekeepers have been accused of bringing cholera to this country; and during the past weeks and days the aggression against internationals here in Haiti has apparently been increasing.

But the situation is difficult for Haitians as well: "We don‘t know for how long people will be on the streets", says Francoise, an SOS Mother. "We need to buy food and prepare to stay indoors in case of riots. But if we go out it might already be too late, there might already be too many demonstrations, riots and barricades to bring everything home safely." Still, Francoise says, she has always felt safe here in the SOS Children‘s Village of Santo.

Everyday life does not seem too tense so far: as I walk towards my office - a metal table at the corridor of the SOS school - curious children want to know my name, want to touch me and start to wonder where the freckles on my nose come from. They kiss me, hug me, make fun of my poor language knowledge and ask me to take a picture of them. For every „bonjou“ I offer, I get warm smiles in return.

As I am sitting here, writing this blog, I am scratching the wounds that mosquitos left on my skin. This armed force, mentioned earlier by Samy, is fighting in Port-au-Prince as well. A rooster calls the chicken to an early morning meeting; a group of children from the SOS Social Centre passes by in single file, repeating what the caregiver sings to them. During this time of political tensions life in the SOS Children‘s Village of Santo just goes on... - and bit by bit I realise with satisfaction that I am part of this life now!

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