Friday, December 2, 2011

Burundi/Haitian Exchange

In August 2011, Peace in Focus facilitated a dialogue between youth in Haiti and Burundi. The young people in Haiti were part of a Mercy Corps' Timoun Alez photography camp and were trained by Peace in Focus co-founder, Kate Fedosova. The young people in Burundi were a part of a Peace in Focus/Jamaa program, in collaboration with Discover Voice.

They exchanged their photography, wrote & answered 20 questions, and finally connected on Skype on the last day. Together they sang songs, talked about their countries, and vision for the future. One of the most poignant topics of conversation was when the Burundi youth learned that Haiti was the first black nation to win their independence. Haiti gained independence in 1804 and Burundi gained independence in 1962.

Ultimately, they discovered that despite having an ocean between them, they share a common language, eat similar foods, both enjoy soccer, and want to see their countries become peaceful and prosperous.

First half of the interviews

Burundi youth asking Haitian youth

How are you doing after the earthquake?

At first, very poorly. We were shocked and very sad. Now, we’re feeling better and recovering thanks to Mercy Corps’ psychosocial art therapy program.

What is your vision for your country?

We would like to rebuild the zones affected by the earthquake, and we hope to support our country’s educational, cultural, social, and economic plans to put our country on the road to progress.

What did you think of the photography workshop?

The workshop was great and a lot of fun, because we learned a lot about photography, identity, and our African roots. We can use this knowledge in the future. Now that we have knew skills we are happy and proud of ourselves.

Do children have the right to work in Haiti?

No, not before 18 years old, but certain children work before this age.

Are there street children and those who are mistreated, too?

Yes, in certain neighborhoods.

How do children live in Haiti?

Some live well while others do not.

What are the living conditions for the Haitian children?

The majority of children live in difficult conditions. Many do not go to school; some live on the street and have no opportunities for entertainment.

Are there Children’s Rights in Haiti?

The rights are established but most of the time are not applied.

What are some of the main activities in Haiti?

Art, commerce, agriculture, fishing, football, music, culture, traditional games, dances like compas et folklore danses, such as the congo, petro, ibo, nago, Banda, Raboday, Mayi, Kontredans, Yanvalou, and many others.

How do orphans live in Haiti?

Some live on the street and some live in orphanages. Some live with host families and others live as “restavec,” a phenomenon where a child is taken and do forced to do housework for a family.

What is the national motto of Haiti?

Unity is strength!

What is the state of the health system?

Critical. The majority of our cities in provinces do not have hospitals or health centers. There is fewer than one doctor per 10,000 inhabitants.

What foods are the basis for your diet in Haiti?

Produce, rice, beans, millet, Akasan (corn flour used for breakfast)

Are there homeless children?

Yes, especially in the capital of Port-au-Prince.

Do Haitians enjoy freedom of expression?

Yes, we often have protests and demonstrations, and we have freedom of expression in the media.

What’s the political system in Haiti?

We have a democratic system, though it’s not implemented fully.

What are the different kinds of work in Haiti?

Masonry, carpentry, woodworking, art, household, agriculture, sewing, teaching, the public servants of the state, contractor, trade, and unfortunately some girls involved in prostitution.

What is the economy in Haiti?

We import a lot. Our system of agriculture is archaic, so our levels of production are low, as are our exports. The revenue per capita is low.

Are children in Haiti polite?

The majority are.

Do you play soccer?

Yes, a lot!

No comments: