The last time Brillant and I visited the former residents of the Route des Rails median tent camp in January, 2011, they were happy and excited to be moving into their new neighborhood, later to be named Brotherhood Village, of brightly colored, one room, fiberboard homes. (Eating Crow in Carrefour, January 17, 2011) Now, a year and a half later, little apparent happiness and excitement remained. Guided by several of the young men we had previously interviewed and photographed, we moved through the narrow streets listening to the residents’ complaints and disappointments.
A number of the residents told us that since moving in, the community hasn’t received any assistance from USAID, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) or the Carrefour municipality, the organizations that were responsible for the move. Others, however, pointed out that the Carrefour municipality had partnered with the Government of Slovenia to acquire a pre-fabricated metal primary school, resembling a row of shipping containers with windows and doors, and with Water Missions International to provide public toilets, which, unfortunately, are non-functional due to the failure of the water system meant to supply them.
In any case, there’s no dispute that the houses, built to last three years, are deteriorating. Many have been scrawled with graffiti, and one resident showed us a hole at the corner of his house made by rats chewing their way inside. In addition, the houses flood, up to a foot deep, in heavy rains, which are common. There’s no electricity, potable water or health care. And with no law enforcement presence, crime is constantly lurking.
Among the people we talked with, there seemed to be agreement that the situation has gotten worse since Michel Martelly was elected president, but little anger directed at him, perhaps because the residents realize this would have happened no matter who is president. And in fact, they look to Martelly, through the national government, as their best chance for improvement, hoping that he can somehow directly accomplish what the organizations that set up the neighborhood have not. Unfortunately for the residents of Brotherhood Village, the odds of that happening are about as long as those that they would end up living in the Route des Rails median tent camp to begin with.
To view more photographs go to www.vichinterlang.com.