A Travellerspoint blog

Haiti

Haiti

Yesterday we went to Haiti. It was a truly incredible experience. The
school would not give us clearance to go because they will not sponsor
trips to countries that have state department warnings, but it is
ridiculous that we have been here the entire time, learning about
people who are living in such misery and at the same time, we are not
allowed to even see them in their own country when we can see the
country of Haiti from where we are staying. Also, the particular city
we were going to Guanamende is right across the bridge from us and an
organization that was showing us around guaranteed our safety. Still,
some members of the group did not want to disappoint the adminstration
so they stayed behind. Also, Tom, our leader could not go with us
since the school did not allow it.
Its amazing how I thought I had seen poverty, in this
country and elsewhere, the people suffering, the living conditions,
people walking down the street with bloody hernias coming out of their
stomachs, but Haiti is uncomparable, it is a whole other level of
poverty. Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas. Now I
understand the saying that Haiti would be better off if someone
dropped a bomb on it.
When we walked across the border, we saw the UN trucks and
the UN peace keepers. The Haitians we talked to were not happy about
hte UN presence because they said that they don{t do anything. They
are not allowed to intervene, they don{t shoot unless they are shot
at. They just stand there, watching all the human trafficking,
watching children sold at the border, watching the violence. And the
UN paid 15 million dollars for their presence in Haiti last year,
money that could have been well spent in other areas in the country.
We are learning about human rights, including human
trafficking, abuse, racial discrimination, etc... but in Haiti, the
organization there that we have been working with said their version
of human rights are different. The human rights they are concerned
with are food, water and housing. There is NOTHING in Haiti, no food,
no water, no running water, no electricity, no sanitation system,
nothing. There is not even a real government in Haiti now, they have a
temporary government, but no real President. My friend here who spent
6 months in Africa said that the only thing that compares to Haiti is
rural Africa.
When we walked down the street, the kids stopped to gawk at
us, they had never seen Americans or white people before, although
only half of our group is white. They looked very confused, then a
group of kids followed us around the entire time.
The prisons in HAITI are horrendous. The ´prisoners, like
the rest of the country do not have food and water, and the men and
women are together in a room, with no roof, so the men can rape the
women, etc...
Crossing the borderr was a pain because the organization we
are working with here Solideridad Fronterista, got a legal document to
allow us all to cross without paying, but when we got to the border,
they wanted our money, so we had to pay anyways.
Sorry if this email doesn{t make sense, but I am so tired
and SOOOO hot, its hard to think clearly.

Posted by bjmorris14 05:45 Comments (0)

Dominican Republic observation trip - Entry 2 the Prison

Dominican Prison

Hi Everyone,

We just got back from a prison in Santiago. It was quite interesting. We went there with the lawyer for the prison (the equivalent of a public defender-)- in this prison there was only 1 lawyer for over 800 prisoners. At the front gate, there were some guards swinging around their guns, and they kept dropping them on the ground- a little scary.
We went inside and had a meeting with the prison ward (your typical rolly polly 300 pounds over weight- alcohol on his breath) and the prison adminstrator. You could tell they were very cautious about answering our questions and gave a lot of bullshit answers. The prison ward told us a story (trying to tell us how great the prison was and
how much the prisoners wanted to be there). He said that it use to be that anyone could get accused with a crime (for ex- I tell the police u robbed me, then without proof, you would be thrown in jail, no proof needed. Then 7 months ago, they established a new "Penal Code" that is supposedly like the one we have in the US (yeah, right) and anyways, now you supposedly need "proof" in order to be thrown in jail. So the prison ward told us a story about how someone stole a goat from him and he told the police, but the police said they couldn't do anything
because there was no proof, so the prison ward cut off the guys' foot with a machete so that he couldn't steal anymore (his version of Justice). I guess we were suppose to think it was funny, so we all laughed nervously. What a great guy!!!!
In the prison we visited both the mens and the womens section. In the mens section there was a part outside (those with "good behavior," but really it was just those with money to pay off the guards.) The "good behavior" section was wierd because the prisoners were roaming around freely and they didn't have any uniforms. One of the "good" ones was this guy walking freely after his wife tried to divorce him and she wanted some money from him to live on, so he called up her father, and told her father he was going to kill her, and shot her 3 times when her dad was on the phone and their son was watching. Great guy to be roaming freely.
In the prison, there are supposedly 800 people. some of them may be there for 6 years before even being charged. It was quite a spectacle, us taking pictures of them, and them looking at us. They didn't even let us go into the main prison, they made up some excuse that it wasn't safe (but really the conditions were probably really bad and they didn't want us t osee)- still we saw the conditions in some of the cells- there were people packed in there like sardines. Some of them were all beat up, and we asked this guy what happened to him and he said he didn't want to tell us.

Dominican Prison

Dominican Prison

There doesn't seem to be any food in the prison, although the adminstrator was telling us how much the conditions have improved and how now there is enough food for 200 people when there are 800 prisoners. In order to get food, the families have to bring them food.
The women's prison was interesting. The conditions were slightly better, and most of the women were in there for drug trafficking (being drug mules- so basically they are paid about $1000 to swallow around 30-40 capsules full of heroin and cocaine, bring them to the US, hope none of the capsules explode in their stomach on the way over
and that they don't get arrested). It was sad because it was exactly like the movie Maria Full of Grace (some very pretty, innocent girls, who decided to swallow drugs in order to get money that could possibly give them a slightly better life).
Some of the women were from Puerto Rico, Columbia, and Venezuela. There was even 1 girl in there how was American. They were dressed in plain clothes- actually a few of them were dressed like prostitutes (skirts that didn't cover their butts and shirts that showed their stomachs). I guess the women's prison was safer so they allowed us in there more and we were actually able to talk to the women and get some of their stories. The living conditions were pretty cramped, but it didn't seem horrible.
Later today we are going to a "batey," a sugar cane plantation where a lot of Haitians are. It is supposedly like modern day slavery, these people are brought from Haiti and promised a good salary and come here and often don't get paid (or get next to nothing)- and have to pay back their way over here, etc.. .The one we are going to today is supposedly a nice one (because the Jesuit Relief Services) are helping them out, but later in the trip we will go see one with worse conditions closer to the Haitian border.)

Posted by bjmorris14 08:17 Comments (0)

Dominican Republic observation trip - Entry 1

Dominican

I arrived in the Domincan Republic today, tired as hell, but still happy to be here. Turns out that we ARE going to Haiti after all!! Even though our school said it was not okay and not covered by their insurance, we are going to be near the border so we are going to go in for a day and get a tour of a sweatshop there and see the distinction
between the DR where only 25% of the people are below the poverty level and Haiti where 85% are below the poverty level. Should be interesting. The priest is rebelling I guess, he said he knows that USF may not ask him back to take another group of kids on a trip, but it is worth it for us to see it and it will be safe where we are
going.
The first thing we did was go to a public hospital here, which was quite interesting. Aside from the unsanitary nature of the hospital, the real problem is that when Haitans are born there, the Dominicans refuse to give them their birth certificates (although they are DR citizens)- then when they get exported to Haiti they send them
back to the DR and really they are all people "without a country." who keep getting deported back and forth from each country. We got a tour of the birth certificate office.
There were tons of bloody people walking around with stab and gunshot wounds. I stepped on a bloody glove on the ground, which was great. We did get to see the premature babies which were so cute!! And
the real kicker was that the tour of the hospital was just so THOROUGH- that they even let us into the room with all the tuberculosis (or however you spell that) patients. We were on the tour with a group of medical students who then told me that we should not have been let into that room, especially without masks because people with TB need to be quarantined because it is an airborne disease. I'm sure everythings fine but I could have done just fine with a hospital tour that didn't expose me to tuberculosis.
We are staying with a missonary program here, in dorm rooms with a curfew and everything, so things are getting quite interesting- for example there is a dress code including ABSOLUTELY no spaghetti strap tops- ok no problem, I know I'm with a priest, BUT let me just give you the reasoning behind all that- as the program director told us- if
we were short sleave shirts instead of tank tops, we will be dressed conservatively and so people will KNOW we are missionaries (I never knew myself I was a missionary, but I will be whatever they want me to be for a free vacation) and then we will get better "deals" when we are bargaining for whatever it is we are buying. In a few days we will
be moving to a hotel for 2 days, then back to Jesuit Relief Services dorms where the Jesuits are regulating our lives. I wonder if they know most of us aren't religious.
Tommorrow we are going to a women's prison here where they just\ arrest people and hold them there without charging them. There is one woman who has been there for 1 1/2 years without being charged, and she was only a WITNESS to a crime, she didn't even do anything wrong
herself.
Sorry I wrote so much, I've only been here a few hours but I'm too tired to be coherent!

Posted by bjmorris14 08:21 Comments (0)

Advice for those studying abroad, i.e., I miss Spain!

[PsiChapterADPi] Life In Oak-Town: A Story For Those of You Who Are Abroad

Since I am going absolutely crazy as I read peoples' descriptions of being in
my country- Spain as I sit here in my cozy cubicle, I thought since I am bored
as heck, I would update all of you on my bangin life in the cities of Berkeley
and Oakland...
Instead of being where I belong (in Spain of course)... here I am sitting at a
tan desk in a gorgeous gray cubicle with my new foreign best friend, my
computer. I was just sitting back realizing how lucky I am to be in the city
of Oakland, there are wide cement, traffic filled streets with trash floating
about, more Chinese resturants than bars in Spain, people frolicking to the
court house across the street to try to collect some money from their baby's
Daddy, etc...
I mean, this is THE LIFE, I'm just sittin here, in this chair, custom designed
to fit my ROCKET DOGS (aka-the ergonomics guy raised my desk 3 3/4 inches to
correlate with the size of my R. Dogs, isn't that exciting)? The highlight of
my day is checking my email to see if anyone has emailed me with descriptions
of other lands...
why would any of you want to be in a foreign land when you could be right
smack at my desk in my office, writing up depositions of people who worked
with steel their whole lives, for example this is what I learned in the last 5
minutes:

Ex. 7- Re: “Fibrous Component is Conviently Asbestos but Where Use is
Undesired for Health Reasons, it is Possible to Replace Asbestos Wholly...”
(depo. pg. 46)EJ says at the time the patent was being prepared and issued,
OSHA regulations were starting to relate to asbestos. Although they knew
asbestos would work in this application, they put a rider and noted health
hazard related to asbestos. Sees part of doc. that states asbestos
replacements included synthetic refractory fibers (glass, wool, slag wool, and
alunina silicant fibers). Patent applications try to cover things with the
same type physical properties, fibrous nature in this case. When fibers of
resilience and nature were mentioned in patent application, they weren’t sure
if they would work at that point.

If that doesn't blow your mind, what can at this point? My life is so damn
interesting, I don't know where to begin. I mean I could tell you a little
more about my desk, my pad of enlarged hot pink post-its, my documents, my
highlighter...
This is the life we all (or most of us) look forward to some day in office
jobs, my point being- for all those abroad,
why come home? Just stay in your country over there forever and I'll come
visit you one day.
Hope everyone else is having more fun than I am, see you all soon,.

Also, make sure to send me an email where you get to the point of your trip
where you realize, there are better bars than Kips out there,
Sista Sarah

Posted by bjmorris14 09:14 Comments (0)

Study Abroad in Sevilla, Spain - Grilled Cheese thought

Grilled cheese

Now to study for my final tommorrow I am going to write a little about a lesson that i learned in Spain this week about grilled cheese, this is not a joke UMMMMMMMMMM KKKKKKKKKK so we were at Feria, drunk and hangin tough when we got a little hungry for some grilled cheese (ok I'm kinda lyin because I was hungry for ice cream and my friend was the one hungry for grilled cheese)

So we head up to a food stand where they sell hamburgers, cheese sandwiches, all the ham in the world and more, we were hoping that maybe just maybe they could take one of those damn cheese sandwiches (which by the way is just 2 pieces of bread and cheese because the Spainards are a little frightened by condiments, we are talkin no way in hell can u get a sandwich with anything else but whatever it is called, so a ham sandwich is ham and bread, a cheese sandwich is bread and cheese, get the pattern????????)

So this particular night I thought we might be gettin lucky, I thought that maybe the guy with the 2 teeth at the food stand could put the cheese sandwich on the grill with the hamburgers and hook us up with some grilled cheese
Man was I wrong, when i asked for the sandwich I was cautious at first, didn't say grilled cheese flat out because i had a feeling this hombre would be against the grilled cheese, so i asked if my friend could have a HOT cheese
sandwich, That's when the shit hit the fan!!!!!!! The toothless man's eyes lit up like fire, and he gave me the craziest look that anyone has ever seen since jesus was a carpentar, "you want a hot cheese sandwich???????? WHY???????????" (I'm translatin this for those of u who have a tough time with spainish) This man acted like I asked him to go out into the wilderness and shoot a bear and bring it back for me to eat immediately

JESUS CHRISTO, all i wanted was for him to put the sandwich on the grill for cryin out loud, then the funny part comes, we got into an ARGUMENT because the concept of grilled cheese was BEYOND him, i mean he acted like not only would it be impossible, it would be extraterrestrial for him to place the 2 slices of bread with the cheese in the middle on the grill

First he wanted to know why i wanted to eat that- well buddy just because I am sick of plain old bocadillos and that is what i freakin feel like right now. Then he wanted to know what it would taste like, (just the same but hot), I
mean I don't know what was going through his mind, he was acting like the book
MEN are from MARS women are from VENUS but worse

Finally he told me that this would be IMPOSSIBLE because the grill was dirty, ok buddy, if the grill is so dirty than why is it ok for the hamburger buns to be on the grill with the meat inside it but my damn bocadillo is just too
goood, too clean for the grill.

The best part is that this story is not a joke, it really happened, and I got a close up of his face to prove it
My favorite part of it was that when we were arguing about the grilled cheese, I started making fun of him (I forget the up-to date slang word for that type of action), I was telling him and all his friends that he was scared of the
grilled cheese

SO to make a long story short, (I mean I could make it longer by telling u other fun facts about this man such as the fact that when the grilled cheese was finally made, dang i gave away the ending, he told us about how he
couldn't eat it or test it out because the only hard thing he can eat with his 2 teeth is rabbit)

Back to the long story short, the grilled cheese was made, I told the guy that his life had been improved because just like how my dad is afraid of heights this man use to be afraid of grilled cheese, but finally he had overcome his
fear of grilled cheese. And my friend Tracy could go on about the rest of her night with a stomach
filled with grilled cheese and the satisfaction that we had changed lives, opened up a new horizon, una manera nueva de vida con bocadillos de queso, given this man somethin new to look forward to at the food stand the next time some american girls demanded grilled cheese, dang i feel like Mother Teresa

Posted by bjmorris14 12:11 Comments (0)

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