My Haiti Journal

Looking at the faces of the people,
I sit on this air-conditioned bus.
As they sell their meats and things in their market…

This is their Publix, ShopRite
Their Pathmark
An alleyway
Garnished with women with color full outfits
with even more colorful food.
Flies adorned the meats like a French salad dressing…
This is their market.

They juggle Buckets of water on their heads like skilled acrobats.
Poised and beautiful
Strong and proud

The Buses and vehicles pass by with no regard 4 life surely killing
anything that gets in their way…

And The dogs
The dogs have a strange character here.
they walk around aimlessly hungry like lost souls…
Zombie dogs I call them
because I didn’t hear them bark
not one bark
waiting for scraps to fall on the floor…
But they are no scraps…
There will be no scraps
Be gone old dawg a woman exclaims
And kicks the ruff.

Every time the bus passes people stop
whatever they are doing they stop
and look at the bus for each and every 1 of them…
Stop and Look
I wonder
Do they see my guilt?

No one should live in this condition
when we visit the 1st
the village I see a little girl’s face
through the makeshift door,
her eyes are like mine her hair a kinky brown
the brown is an obvious sign of her malnutrition…

Her silence is deafening…
What can I offer her
when she sees me does she know, that we are the same…
Does she know our ancestors are the same
The same blood of slaves
runs through me and she…
Opportunity is the only border that separates me from her.

I hold back the tears as I see a pig laying in the middle of
filth…right in the heart of the village…
A playground full of debris children plays around this pig…
The pig is black and pink and no doubt in my mind he will surely be eaten
and maybe he 2 knows his fate.. and he eagerly awaits it…
So he lies in the middle of the filth unmoved just existing…
Children play. But there are no toys
No barbies no kens
Rosters no hens…
A lonely goat roams he looks lost

The pain I feel is deep
Its sorrow, its guilt its shame
Shame 4 a world that has abandoned its own…

In the midst of all this, I see a church with girls with pretty white
ribbons in their hair…
singing the praises of Jesus.
And In at that moment they are not poor, they are not hungry they are
one with God…
They are angelic
This is my Haiti.

One of the security guards has taken a liking to me… It’s quite cute…
Maybe in another lifetime, we could be lovers of sorts.
If he grew up in Brooklyn,
I know he would love biggie and Tupac,
and hip hop
Like me
But alas,
It could never be
None the less I can feel his eyes piercing through me
Does he see my guilt?
This is my Haiti

A bus that should hold 8 has about 50 people pushed into it.
Poverty has a way of making one quite crafty.
I once heard someone say.

One of the shelters we visited 2day had 160 people sleeping in one
One woman proclaims keep the food gives us a place to lay our heads.
I have 7 children…
And we are dying here.
We sleep on this concrete floor every day.
Keep the food…
We don’t have any shoes on our feet…
And behold a fungus infected the sole of a foot…
Another one proclaims u are so ungrateful we will take whatever they
give us…
whatever they give us
This is my Haiti

The ghetto?
For so long I thought I was from the ghetto,
My upbringing looks like I was the child of the richest family in the
world in comparison to this.
Call me Melky Hilton
not Melky Jean
It’s not fair to say that I grew up poor…
To grow up poor is to have no opportunities.
No schools, no government assistance…
No saviors,
No dreamers

A game of hoops reinforces the hope…
These men are boys

We are on our way back to the shelter, I am so excited, afraid

The artwork

Yellow blue green an odd but beautiful mix
No pants sagging here
these people take pride in themselves
I see perms up does twist dreads, weaves, rollers
Yes I said they take pride in themselves
Making a way…
They live

We deliver 500 pairs of crocs  to this shelter,

Children play soccer with their old holey shoes…
It feels surreal…
To see their faces light up…

I didn’t get 1 a little boy exclaimed
Tho I know I gave him 1 already I couldn’t turn him away…
I saw him take the shoe and give it to his mama,
Main Maman. Moin pra sa por ou..
Here mama I take this for you.
These are the stories
this is my Haiti.

It feels good…
To give hope…
Trash lines the street like the partitions one might find on an American
We rush back 2 make it back in time b4 the sunsets and the bad men come
My heart races
All of this overlooking the Caribbean sea, and how beautiful and
treacherous is she.

They look at me a familiar faces,
They smile at me. And say that I’m pretty.
But if only they knew the beauty I find in them at this very moment I am
At this very moment, nothing else matters
I sigh…
But the sun begins to set
You can feel the tension in the natives’ voices…
The hills are treacherous at night they say.

A roadblock… The quick panic I feel
Everyone coming down but we are going up the hill…
how arrogant are we…
going up the hill
And leaving them below

A woman cooks dinner amongst a ruin of rocks this is her home…
People claim street corners, and blocks of stone have their homes..
Shacks, huts, and shanty towns as their homes.
Red cross tents
Sidewalks as their home

The sun begins to disappear…
And the place is illuminated by yellow and green orange and blue
colors that Adorne’s the few structures that are here…
We have passed the village

The palace, the white house
a few minutes from this town stands proud and strong
In the center of the village…
Is this the same place
I wonder?
A bit puzzled…
I pray lord doesn’t let the sun completely set.
On us now we are so close to the hotel.

The hotel where I can pretend not to believe what I have seen this day.
The hotel where I am safe from the reality of the hardships that haunt
my Haiti…

The word responsibility crosses my mind.
Am I not responsible for my brother,
My sister?

Am I not responsible
Responsible to show the world
tell the world what I have seen,
am I not responsible to make others do better…
Am I not my brother’s keeper

It’s getting darker,
And I am afraid…
We have stopped the noise here
A man blocks our bus in…
The Haitians in the bus scream what is he trying to do
My trusted bodyguard jumps out to my rescue.

The gun butts him in the shoulder and makes his move…

Have we passed him I look at the man’s face…
He and his wife look like they were just driving home
from an honest day’s of work… and didn’t see the police escort…

And for this he is

A world that might seem chaotic to others
Has its own rules…
My heart races…
I am Still
I mind my business

The bus is now noisy
English creole all mingled together forming a gumbo of conversations
All spicy, and full of flavor
My fellow missionaries chat.
And I enjoy their Gumbo

Has my heart begun to slow back down…
We head up the hill this narrow hill of a road I don’t know what was
scarier the hill or the roadblock that just happened

And as we drive in the city you see big luxurious  homes
and Mercedes Benz ‘es an obvious vulgar  display of
the dichotomy here is extremely troubling…
It’s suffocating me
it is suffocating me

These people are people just like me
When we give them rice if we don’t give them the water
they can’t eat
their water is contaminated…
Bacteria breeds

So They drink water out of plastic bags.
Plastic bags.
Not Poland springs, not evian
Plastic bags.

I just want to do more and more for them.
To satisfy my selfish need I guess 2 remove
this awful feeling of guilt…
That weighs heavy on me.

Then you have a whole other group of aristocrats who walk through  the
airport, who walk through the hotel with their nose in the air seemingly
frowning as if everyone else is beneath them…
I just want to ask them what have done 4 your Haiti lately.

Day 2 distribution,

Last night we go 4 dinners at the Jardin de Gerad
A serene restaurant that means the Garden of Gerald…
Quaintly placed in the middle of what appears to be a garden
with amazing cuisine
I look around this garden and I’m a bit confused,
Is this my Haiti?
wine, tequila, grey goose.
I can definitely get into this

but then I remember
and at that moment the food just doesn’t taste the same
This is my Haiti

A  Haitian
the band played trouba doure at the hotel,
Haitian folk music

The scene at the hotel was surreal.
It sits on top of the mountain with a breathtaking view of the
The Caribbean…
Shanty towns are replaced by a still silence,
And sparkles of light sprinkled throughout the city like a canvas of
twinkling stars,

For a moment we could be anywhere in the world…
People dancing and having a good time
A man exclaimed this is what Haiti could be…
Another said this is what Haiti was…

And there we were in a moment in time that stood still…
This is my Haiti

We are hitting treacherous terrain to make it to the city of Cabaret,
A city that was badly ravished by the killer storms.the rain

God be with us

It’s a Sunday  we drive,
I see people dressed
Wearing their Sunday best…
Old women with their big brim hats,
We drive
Artworks rivaling Picasso
Being sold on the street for nothing,
Gives New Meaning to Starving artist…

I see a goat tied to a pole like a pet.
He to will share the same fate
as the
pink and black pig from the other day,
And like an old man on his deathbed
The goat stands arrogant
No doubt contemplating his life…
he rolls his eyes at me

We drive.
Trash lines the street
Camilfaut the Haitian cigar brand
Advertisements everywhere
The Tobacco industry
Pumps propaganda even on Haiti’s streets


Tobacco kills

Poverty Kills 2 ..

A UN convoy passes by
I wave at the soldiers
And think of their families…

We pass a building
build by the Us
in 1935
When America  occupied Haiti,
And pumped her with lies…
A sure stamp of America’s dominance
And Haiti pays the postage price.

A few miles down
We pass over a bridge
A bridge built by the French men
Who bought the tower of Eifle.
(Eifle Tower)
It has survived every hurricane,
every tropical storm,
Every coup attempt and revolution that hit the island…
A sure sign that the French
were here
And still are…

The water beneath it is gray
and it’s called the gray river.
I see why.
The water is a weird shade of black and gray…
Almost looks like oil.

A man passes by on his donkey
Rolling hills surround us
how beautiful is she
This is my Haiti
Green to the right of me
Green to the left of me
a sign of hope..
I sigh..

Oh no
Garbage piles, landfills of debris
in the middle of this beautiful terrain
Garbage piles?
Spoil the terrain
A child plays amongst the land fields of debris
How tragic…
He plays with old food at his feet, the waist of the land at his feet he
Amongst used condoms and condom wrappers he plays, as if he is a child
playing in the snow.
He plays oblivious to disease,
accustomed to the suffering
He plays.
This is my Haiti

We drive
And pass a sulfur water deposit..
The waters are said to have healing powers legend says
if you bath in this source it cures all ailments,
I wonder
if I bath in it
what will it
cure me of?
Will it cleanse me of this feeling of guilt
Will it cleanse me
Completely and make me whole

We pass the most beautiful beach I have ever seen
water so turquoise it almost looks green
Coastline untouched except for the accent
Of a few humble homes
If this was Miami this property would be worth millions…
But here…
It’s not.
It’s priceless

a beautiful stable with stallions
The car is moving but I am still
imagining the whole country
could be like this
I dream

I get comfortable with that thought
It feels good
So good
And there I was again in a moment that stood still
Wondering what Haiti could be.
But I am quickly
jolted out of my fantasy
by huts,
with goats has pets who eat garbage
And ingest
whatever they find…
This is my Haiti

We stop in Cabaret
And see women bathing in the muddy waters
Their bodies are chocolate their nipples are pointy..
They are beautiful
Hundreds of them
Their underarms hairy
They wash their hair
They wash their clothes
They are women
They are just like me
They bath
They wash
Their children play in this murky water..
Water that serves as
A laundry,
A bath
A sewer,
A pool,

A grave,
where dead bodies float,
dead dogs float
Anything that finds itself in the path of this water
Gets swept away.
This water looks so gentle
But she is so deceiving.
When she is angry
she shows no mercy,

And no one can calm her…
No one
Not even me

She claimed hundreds of lives here
in her fury
Hundreds of homes
Hundreds of dreams..
a few dozen babies
she doesn’t discriminate
I don’t like her too much…
I don’t like her too much

One woman on our bus
couldn’t help but give money,
Tho we were encouraged not to at that time…
U couldn’t help yourself..
They stood by the bus
they didn’t beg
they didn’t say anything
Anything at all
their faces said it all.

Preschoolers on their way to get water, not on their way to school
A child sucks his lollipop and shares it with his friend…
the friend bites the head of the lollipop,
The other boy makes a face of disappointment
He wanted the last bite..
He wanted the last bite..
Kids will be kids
Even in the midst of all this

We distribute bags of food.
Each bag must way 80 lbs,
I needed help to pick them up.
But the Haitian women
they are stronger than me.
We placed them on their heads
And send them on their way..
They smile and say

We give a group of kids
candies and treats from the bus..
They smile.

We are driving to arkaya,
This is the place where my daddy is from
I become overwhelmed and start to be an awe
Of my father’s accomplishments

How did he make it out of here.,
This faraway place we have been driving for 2 hours now.

How amazed I am of him at this very moment
I understand
why he was so hard on me
I understand why he pushed for A’s and
never settle for C’s
Or when I said I can’t he never took that from me
I now understand his disappointment in me having a boyfriend at 17.
And why he would let me sing in the choir
but not play 4 the softball team.
at this time it all made sense

I understood
And I believe..
I believe when he looked me in the eye and said he was proud of me
He saw his greatest creation..
The Him in me..
And it gave me peace,
Peace The absence of all confusion

We are in the bus driving through a foot of muddy waters on my way to my
ancestral village,
The floods have hit this part hard…
People ride donkeys,
They walk their goat-like pets here
it is a simple life but a life non less
My heart races in anticipation

We arrive in Arkaya a very modest place,
I can’t stop myself from imagining my dad
Has a young man on his donkey,
Galloping through town on his donkey
Women flirt with him and by men he is envied.,

The preacher, from Arkaya..
Similar to Jesus of Nazareth,
They welcome him with palm trees
They fall at his feet

That is my father
This is my Haiti

I now understood my father’s righteousness..
I can feel it in me….

A group of young men takes me to one of the homes,
I had to use the bathroom and couldn’t hold it much longer.
Every person we passed the boys said
This is Wyclef’s sister who has come to us
Isn’t she pretty,
One boy said Marry me
They paraded me through the flood-infested village so proud that I came
So proud that so many here share my family face and my family name.
and for just a moment we forgot about the rain


I enter the truck to the left
Rocks with iron bowls served as the kitchen.
The smell of the rice and beans was reminiscent
Of my grandmother, I could feel her here..
in this place
The one might call this a shack it was definitely a home

Separated by sheets she brings me a bucket of water and says are u
really his sister,
I said yes.
She says you are truly pretty
It felt different when she said it,
It made me ashamed.
We were the same complexion and probably the same age.
A world apart I knew she wanted to be me..
When she said please please Melky can u take one of my kids..

I Grabbed the bucket
And handle my business.

When I step out
I curiously observe
A makeshift living room
Made of old boards stuck together to make a table
The floor is a cold and black concrete
The roof is made of tins, rock,s and leaves..

This is my Haiti

I thank her,
And promise them that I will return,
And bring my friends..
She calls me an angel..
But I have no wings..
I give her some money
That’s the least I could do
I would have given her the clothes off my back
If she asks me 2…
Simply because
It’s the Christian thing to do…

Now I am far from holy,
But I do believe, that I should love my brother
The way Jesus loved me.
It’s my fathers greatest creation
His righteousness in me.

Return to the bus, with so much left undone,
I swear to myself that I will be back,
So much more I wanted to do and say..
But we had been in Haiti, for now, a few days
And we had to get on our merry ole way..

Exhausted mentally and physically
I get on the bus
and passed out,
I didn’t dream one dream
Not one
And for me that is rare.
I guess my mind couldn’t dream
I was too full of despair

2 hours later I woke up at the airport,
Looking a hot mess
I didn’t care about my makeup my hair or the waiting press.
I just knew I had to come back and restrategize
And tell the whole world what I have seen
And help us all realize

God is real I say
can’t question
why he does
what he does..
I guess that’s why we are down here
and he is up above.

If I questioned myself
If I lost all hope,
What I saw from the plane while in the air would reaffirm my hope
I look to the right of me,
I swear on my mom!!!
I tapped my fiancee and showed him
A beautiful rainbow hand sprung…

Orange green and yellow tones
With Haiti below and God up above..
I believe she will once again come to know his love..

Melky Jean