Nat and John and I were driving into Leogane on our way to work. The day before we left at 7am but had a bunch of materials to load onto the truck so we arrived at the construction site a few minutes after things had already started. So to set a good example, and to get on our boss’ good side, we made sure to leave a few minutes early today.
There were bagels and cream cheese for breakfast. AND bacon. I was really excited. I made myself a quick breakfast to go and got into the Fuso with the guys. Our ride was fun. Most mornings we try to see how little coffee we can spill on ourselves as Nat drives through the crazy Haitian roads. If its not playing leap frog with the motor bikes and the tap taps, the semi’s flying by at ridiculous speeds, its the pot holes that get us. The drives to work can be really entertaining. Most mornings I just try to soak in all the beauty of everything around me; the palm trees, the mountains, the sun making its way into the sky.I prep myself for the day, I stay pretty quiet while Nat and John banter back and forth about whatever is on their minds.
We had all just agreed out loud that today was going to be a great day. I think sometimes its more like making ourselves be convinced by our words. “Yes, its gonna be a great day!”
That phrase had just enough time to set into my mind.
It couldnt have been more then 10 seconds that went by when we passed by a UN truck and soldiers documenting something on the side of the road. While still in mid-sentence my brother and I turned to our left to see what was happening and thats when I saw it. A corps on the side of the road. Burned to a crisp. At first glance I didnt know what I was looking at. I had never seen such a thing before in my life.
In movies and on tv its one thing, we’ve become used to such images and in many ways have become numb to the response or reaction we as humans should really be forced to experience.
But there it was, my first view of the effects of lynching. It took my brain a few seconds to really grasp the situation and the implications of what happened.
In Haiti there are a few ways in which you can legitimately be killed. if you get in a car accident and hit someone you can (and if caught- will) be killed by the crowd. Its legal. Its their judicial system. We are told that if we get into a car accident, to just keep driving and get to a safe place (either back to base where we can report the accident to authorities or drive to the nearest police station). Another way to be killed is if you’re caught stealing.
Last weekend a bus had broken down right in front of our construction site and a man was caught stealing the transmission in the middle of the night. It didnt take long before a crowd gathered to try to kill him. He ran into our site and hid in the bathrooms. Our security guards were able to call the police and save the man’s life (for now).
The body we saw today was probably a result of stealing. Tires were put around the person and then set on fire. Before or after he was killed we will never know. Maybe it was done most mortem in a way to show more disgrace to the body, or maybe its how he or she died.
I feel like there are things I will never understand about the way things work in Haiti. I think this is one of them. On one hand, I know why its done. The people have little hope. They cant trust their government or their police officers. Something has to be done and this is one way where the people have found a solution that works for them. It would take a psychologist, a sociologist, and an anthropologist to really break down all the implications these actions have on the people and this society. I dont have that knowledge or education. Right now all I have is just what I know and what I see every day.
The rest of my day didnt end up being “great” either. There was so much work to do and I didnt get it done. There aren’t enough hours in the day for everything that there is to do. We left the construction site almost two hours later then normal. Its just another day in Haiti for me. I need to remember why I’m here and focus on the good things. Cheer up, persevere through hard days and just keep going.