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Not for Sale

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like Cité Soleil? At worst, our inertia must spring from an attitude that “someone’s got to win and someone’s got to lose.” The Haitians seemed to be losing at every turn. To my way of thinking, even if you didn’t give a fig about these poor Haitians and were only motivated by enlightened self-interest, the Petri dish corollary said it would be a big mistake to tolerate conditions like those in Cité Soleil and not try to change them.

All these thoughts raced through my mind in the short time it took for Regine to run her finger across Ruth’s leg. I thought of my own daughters. What accident of birth or stroke of fate destined them to a life of comfort in Miami and Regine to be begging and perhaps prostituting herself to strangers in Cité Soleil?

“Wake up,” I told myself. “You can do something about this!”

“I wonder what happened to our journalists,” murmured Ruth, looking over her shoulder out the back of the Pajeros. The crush of children and Regine’s stroking her leg were unsettling to Ruth. Each passing second made it more and more difficult to resist Regine’s persistent pleas.

The journalists finally reappeared. “Unbelievable shots!” they exclaimed as they piled into the van. That one trail carved out by that trickle of water led us further and further in, and it got darker and narrower, with no end to the people. Seven or eight in each shack—that sort of stuff.”

“I’ll bet AIDS is a problem here,” I said to no one in particular.

“They say in some parts of Cité Soleil that everyone has AIDS,” one of the journalists responded.

It was almost impossible to make a U-turn in the narrow street we were in. In the process our driver knocked over a tripod pot containing a soup or stew. That brought out from the owner the only words of anger I heard during my first trip to Haiti. After changing direction, we slowly drove away, with the children running after us, half singing, half shouting, “bonswa, bonswa!”

That night, back at the hotel, I allowed myself the luxury of a bottle of wine after dinner. I sat on the terrace sharing the day’s

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