Sunday, January 20, 2013

Praying Man

January 19, 2013--Medical/Dental Clinic Cite Soleil
(Photo by John Carroll)

Who is this Praying Man and why is he praying?

He is a slum dweller from Cite Soleil and is praying that our dentist would pull one of his painful and rotten teeth.

Yesterday he was in line in our medical/dental clinic in a notorious neighborhood in Soleil. He patiently waited for hours sitting on a wooden bench with dozens of other dental patients with chronic pain.

However, it wouldn’t be. The hour was late and the patient before Praying Man turned out to be our last dental patient. This last patient was a very afraid thin young woman whom our dentist needed to cajole and use the art of dentistry to successfully and painlessly extract her tooth.

So our Praying Man was promised first spot in the morning to have his tooth pulled. He was happy with this as he left the clinic.

However, things in the neighborhood around the clinic were not good yesterday. The young men in the area were smoking Haitian weed (boz) and seemed more angry and agitated than usual.

One member of our team told me that her name was called multiple times and motions were made to bulging waste lines indicating guns underneath. These men are called bandits by the local Soleil community.

Our Haitian staff, who always have their ear to the ground in Soleil, told us after clinic that it would not be safe for us to have clinic today. So clinic was cancelled today.

With this decision, one of our nurses shrieked in despair that the Praying Man would not get his tooth extracted now. Most Haitians never see a dentist in their lifetime. And hundreds of other medical and dental patients that would have been examined by our thirty-member team will not be checked or treated today.

So Soleil remains inhuman. It is terrible inside the little corridors. It is terrible in every way you can imagine.

The Haitian National Police won’t enter this area of the slum. And when the UN soldiers have come in the past, they have shot everything up and killed innocents and bandits at the same time.

And so the bandits rule here. They have no jobs. They have no life. They have no future. They have nothing to lose. So they intimidate and kill "when needed".

Liberals hate to have anyone attack "the bandits in the slum". But the bandits need to stop their bad behavior because their own neighbors suffer greatly as a consequence.

And conservatives need to stop supplying the bandits with their bullets. The big guys on the hill need to help provide jobs. The bandits need jobs, not bullets. Wouldn’t it be nice if they went from bandits to businessmen? 

And travel warnings to Haiti from the American Embassy? Please stop these warnings. Most blans will be ok in Haiti. Praying Man won't.

Cite Soleil, January 19, 2013 (Photo by John Carroll)
So I am sorry, Praying Man, that we did not pull your tooth and relieve your pain a little today. And I am so sorry for all of our liberal and conservative talk that ultimately does so little for you.

We will be back tomorrow morning.

Keep the faith (kembe fem).

John A. Carroll, MD

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