Cover Image

Not for Sale



View/Hide Left Panel

of medical students to do a health fair in Thomonde. By screening for common, preventable, treatable problems, such as worms and malnutrition, we could start the process of returning health to Thomonde. Project Medishare was not an official part of the University of Miami’s curriculum, but word was passing from student to student that there was a real opportunity to learn in Haiti. As a consequence, more and more students were giving up their spring, summer, and winter breaks and volunteering for Medishare. On this trip I had 12 second-year medical students, long on book knowledge but short on experience. I was the only real doctor. But that was the wonderful thing about the health fair method: One doctor aided by a dozen students could see a lot of patients.

Delva showed me the Uzi he kept under his seat. As magistrate of Thomonde he carried absolute authority, and he wanted us to know that he personally guaranteed our safety while visiting Thomonde. The students were impressed with the Uzi, particularly since the Miami Herald had written another series of articles about gang violence and police ineffectiveness in Port-au-Prince just before our trip. Delva was more concerned about reports that there were barricades blocking the road around Hinche. The report turned out to be nothing more than rumor. Neither barricades nor gangs ever materialized. I wasn’t worried. In my 20 trips to Haiti in Medishare’s first two years of existence, I had learned that there were really two Haitis—the political Haiti you read about in the newspaper and the real Haiti hardly anyone outside the country ever sees. In the media’s version of Haiti, the country was in a perpetual state of political violence and crime. In the real Haiti, at the time, political violence was frequently more symbolic than real, a kind of political theater, usually confined to the capital. Crime in the countryside in those days was practically nonexistent. In Haitian culture the worst thing you could possibly be is a thief, a vole. People policed themselves. And if anyone should seriously break the rules, there was always the threat of the zombie curse.

Certainly, I had seen some petty theft in Port-au-Prince. There



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement