‘Oh Se Haiti Ou Ye La Wi which translates to ‘Oh, you ‘re in Haiti now’
Young girl on the streets of Haiti.
By Shirley Thimothee-Paul RN, MSN, CCRN
“Oh Se Haiti Ou Ye La Wi” which translates to Oh, you ‘re in Haiti Now”
This is a common phrase used in Haiti in conversation when someone from abroad questions some of the less than tactful behaviors which are part of daily life in the country, one of which is the poor practice of reselling donated products by the victims of natural disaster. A large bag of rice donated to the victims of hurricane Mathew is photographed in a street market. Having never experienced hunger or poverty, I can’t say for sure that I wouldn’t sell a bag of rice to make enough money to pay for car fair for my children to get to school. Who am I to judge? You see those of us who are of Haitian decent may be able to sympathize but not necessarily empathize with the people of the general population of Haiti. Things that are unheard of in America are part of normal life in Haiti.
A beautiful young girl barely nine years old is up by 6 a.m. preparing meals, boiling water for baths and sweeping the walk way in front of the home she currently labors in. The eldest female of family of seven children from Bord-de-Mar, a small area on the ocean in the Northern Part of Haiti, works from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily for less than pennies on a dollar of what one might make here in the U.S. An adolescent girl, barley fully developed, has moved in with an elderly retired male over 70 to be his makeshift wife, not because she wants to be, but because he has offered to supply basic necessities for her family who practically go days without food. “Malere pa peshe’ “, which translates to, “being poor is not a sin”, but watching such suffering and doing nothing should be. Being in that young girl’s position, would I do the same? I’ll let you when I’ve gone days without food along with my small siblings. Yes, flying in from Florida with my well-nourished body and my college degrees, it is easy to question such practices and ask about law and order. The better question to ask is “what would you do”? Most Haitian Ameicans can’t really say, as they too have never experienced hunger nor watched their children’s stomachs swollen from hunger. Yes, these are all examples of daily life experiences of the general population of Haiti, and it is up to the Haitian Americans such as me to create hope for Haiti and the children like this young girl to know a better life. A life where a visiting Haitian American can be reminded that they’re in Haiti because they have come over with practices that are beneath the class and integrity of our people, not the other way around. So let’s challenge ourselves to make the last statement a reality. “Haiti ou ye la, wi.