Friday, March 16, 2012

Good News from Cite Soleil!!

Manushka, Cite Soleil (Photo by John Carroll)

Well, finally some good news from Soleil. I think.

Manushka is a 24 year old young lady who I met in Soleil near the pediatric clinic. She told me about her life in Soleil and losing her father to cholera.

She seemed like one of thousands of people in Haiti's slum... filled with talent that willl never be brought to the surface or be used for productive purposes. With only four years of education, Manushka just seems so smart.

I spoke with a friend of mine who is CEO of a company in Port-au-Prince. We talked about Manushka. He asked me if Manushka could fill out an application form for possible employment in his company. I told him that I didn’t know.

So I related this conversation to Manushka and she cringed when I told her that she would need to fill out an application form if she wanted this job. She said she would give it a try.

So my driver and I dropped her off at the company the other day and Manushka did her best to fill out the application form. Even though she checked that she was an "homme", she got the job. 

Her first day was Monday of this week.

This seems like good news. Manushka will have a reason to get up in the morning and make herself look presentable. She will have to be disciplined to arrive at work sharply at 7 AM each morning. And if she does these things and performs at work, she will have a constant income for the first time in her life.  

And Manushka will be able to support her eight siblings in Soleil better than she can now.

I have learned that good intentions don't always lead to good results. I hope Manushka's new job doesn't back fire on her.

In her part of Soleil it will be well known that she has a job. I hope that she is not robbed. I hope she is not bribed for money. I hope her two hours of electricity per day is not disconnected. I hope her new job won't hurt her in any way.

And I have a bigger question.

What would happen if, instead of a 99% unemployment rate in Soleil (my figure), there was a 50% unemployment rate? What if every other Manushka in Soleil had a full time job that did not involve selling charcoal, mangoes, or carrots on the street corner?

What would that do for all of Soleil’s woes? Would Soleil's water be cleaner? Would infant mortality in the slum decrease?

During the last 10 years when we have asked people in Soleil what they want the most, they have uniformly replied "jobs". They didn't ask for more guns or bullets or violence or kidnappings, or MINUSTAH, or sick babies, or illiteracy. They asked for jobs.

Let us hope that this job is a good thing for Manushka.

John A. Carroll, MD

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