I'm Living Below the Line for Christian Aid
Raised so far
To demonstrate solidarity with those in Haiti and around the world who struggle every day with malnutrition. To support Christian Aid Week fund-raising effort
Geoff Daintree donated
Inspiring as ever - congratulations and thank you for all you do!
Mayca Frieyro donated
Isabel Woods donated
Thomas Dunmore donated
Really well done! What a great initiative
Sarah Miseldine donated
Good luck team Haiti!
nicki morgan donated
Well done Team Haiti :)
JOHN REW donated
Well done Prospery and team!
Sarah Wilson donated
Bon Travaille Prospery from Daphne, Fritzgerald, Danick, Lorice and Anne-Dorothee
Melanie Smith donated
A donation of $US20 from Ronald, congratulations!
Melanie Smith donated
A donation of $US20 from Mona, congratulations!
Melanie Smith donated
A donation from Florence, congratulations!
Melanie Smith donated
Katherine Nightingale donated
Go team Haiti!
Claire Kumar donated
Adrian Ouvry donated
Well done team, great show of solidarity!
Antoinette Powell donated
It's great to hear you're getting involved with Live Below the Line in Haiti - good luck!
Kathleen Prior donated
Fascinating to hear about it from a Haitian perspective!
Hannah Richards donated
amazing! Good luck xxx
Sarah Wilson donated
Keep up the good work team. And keep those blogs coming!
Sophie Richmond donated
Zaneta Petrekova donated
Good luck! ;-)
Paul Valentin donated
You're setting an example to all of us!
Joanne McAlroy donated
Good luck all! ;o)
Nick Guttmann donated
Good luck to the Great Haiti Team
Gradleigh Ruderham donated
jane gagie donated
Kerry Crellin donated
Your commitment is outstanding and inspirational!
Katia Wengraf donated
Sorry it's so little. Keep up the amazing work!
Susan Barry donated
Brilliant, brilliant you guys - really amazing and Totally Inspirational! You deserve some great Creole cooking at the end!
Catherine Kelliher donated
You guys are inspirational :)
Melanie Marks donated
Good luck to all of you taking part in Haiti!
11th May 2012
There is a newly popular singer in Haiti called Wanito. He has a very simple acoustic style, he plays his guitar and sings, and his songs are original, and insightful, and very Haitian. They are in Kreyol. You feel that he is the voice of the common people, as opposed to the chic Haitian POP stars that live in Miami and New York and fly in a few times a year to perform (don’t get me wrong I’m a fan of theirs too, but Wanito is really a breath of fresh air). He is from Delmas, a poor quarter of Port-au-Prince, and his songs are about the struggles that Haitians face in life. His style is reminiscent of the ‘old’ style of Haitian music, which we were afraid no ‘new’ voice was going to pick up again! Check out his videos on youtube- unfortunately you may be missing a translation!! Below I have translated some of the lines of one of my favourite songs of his that speak about hunger and poverty (the kreyol is much more beautiful). The song is called “appran konnen” (learn to know) from his album “Biyografi mwen” (my biography). The beginning: “You have to live in misery to talk about misery eh eh eh When I tell you I’m hungry I know what I’m talking about You have to live with money to know how rich people live Otherwise any little bit of money will make you happy You have to understand Never say that you will not learn . . . . . You have to live in the ghetto to talk about living in the ghetto oh oh oh Their life reality is not the same as the people who live above (outside) And there is no water that can give them a stomachache (cholera) Three days without eating couldn’t upset their stomachs …….. Respect for the people who live in the ghetto . . . .” So, I hope that the LBL experience has helped you ‘learn to understand.’ I’m sure you have gained respect for people who live in worse conditions every day, because that is arguably more important to them than pity. Respect.
27th April 2012
Ahhh its the last day now. As I ate my dry piece of bread this morning- should I say choked down my dry piece of bread this morning and washed it down with cold water- I was grateful. Yesterday eating lunch with my team at work, we were talking about our big plans for meals on Saturday- one person is even planning on eating at midnight Friday night! Me I was hoping that I could eat after sundown tonight . . . . but I will break my fast on Saturday. And it will not be broken with dried salted fish, which we are all sick to death of!!! At lunch yesterday we also reflected on how our experience living below the line is still so different than for those around us that have no choice. We feel weak each morning and evening, and we are sitting at desks most of the day, imagine how the people walking up and down the streets of the city, carrying heavy loads on their heads, must feel. Most of us have access to clean water at our house and can at least take a “bucket shower” when we want- the water flowing through the ‘riverbeds’ in the city is terribly dirty, but many must bathe and wash their clothes in it. So many people are hungry, sweating, and can’t even get clean. Some choose to bathe in the rain as it falls, and collect some of it in basins- of course when it rains really hard, as it did yesterday, all the roads in the city become rivers and you are lucky if you can stay dry. My Haitian coworkers wanted me to share a few thoughts on my blog: One had struggled with himself to keep his temper when he heard his daughters complaining about they did not want to eat what was being served for breakfast (which he would have been greatful to be able to eat) and also how he thinks the worst torture is watching people that can eat, eat- psychologically it seems like they are relishing the food to tease you. Another told a story of a neighbour of his who has 8 children, who washed people’s cars for a living. My coworker found an interview for him with a company for a simple guard job, but the man had nothing to wear to the interview. So my coworker gave him money to buy new clothes, took him to the interview, and he got the job. The man and his wife are so greatful, my coworker’s car is never dirty now. The salary was 7500 gdes, the equivalent of $187.50, or $6.25 a day, for a family of 10, and they cried with joy.
26th April 2012
Tired and Hungry Last night as I was going home from work, I couldn’t stop yawning. I’m yawning now as I write this. It reminded me of my early days in rural Haiti, where I would go into the field with agricultural technicians at 6 or 7 am. We were always sitting in the back bench seats of a land cruiser, which face each other, so it was hard to hide my yawns. They would always ask me if I was hungry. At first I would laugh and say no, I just ate. And when we were going back to the office after 5+ hours in humidity and sun, I would laugh and say no, I am just tired. But after months of people- not just my coworkers- asking me if I was hungry every time I yawned, in any situation, I realized that there was probably a grain of truth to the fact that you yawn when you are hungry. And that fact is very very well known in Haiti where it is quite common to be hungry! My habit is to snack throughout the day, to avoid ever letting my blood sugar fall too low, and to avoid over-eating when I do have food- but last night I was getting home late and it had been 7 hours with no food. And then I started yawning. If I had any doubts about the connection between yawning and hunger, I gave them up this week. I definitely do yawn when I am underfed. Physiologically, I believe that yawning is supposed to be triggered by low blood oxygen levels- which I’m sure can be impacted by lack of food and metabolism slowing, etc. Shannamar, (my future PhD biochemist darling, who has also been to Haiti and been asked if she is hungry when she yawns) . . . . do you have any explanation to add to that? ps. I yawned 6 times while writing this. Must have a psychological cause as well . . . .
24th April 2012
It’s really a pity I don’t have a mango tree at my house. It is mango season, so I can get them pretty cheap anyway, but if I had a tree they would be free!! Particularly in the south of Haiti, there are many mango trees and they help to reduce the severity of malnutrition in their surrounding population. During the right season, mangos are basically free for the residents because they are so plentiful. So I will definitely be enjoying a few mangos this week. For less than $1 you can get 3 or 4 at inflated city prices. Having grown up far from a region where Mangos grow, it makes me feel rich to be able to indulge in the sweet yellow orange flesh, but I do now remember that there are many Haitians, particularly children, that wish that they could fill their bellies with something else. As I was mentioning this to my coworkers at noon today, sharing our $1 meal, a mango fell from the tree behind me. Big, beautiful, slightly rosy, perfectly ripe. It was a sign. I knew that we had a mango tree in the office yard but it hadn’t ‘hit’ me that I would have access to this resource until we heard the mango hit the ground (not too damaged). We washed it up, cut it into five pieces for the five of us and ENJOYED!!
24th April 2012
You may be surprised to know that Haiti can be a very expensive place to live, if you are not a farmer or part of a strong community that shares food among themselves (which I must admit is true for about 80% of the population here). Agricultural products in Haiti can be very expensive because Haiti’s production is far lower than the demand for food (in a large part due to the degradation of the environment but we don’t have time to get into that now). Hence, the majority of food is imported, and the cost of ‘local’ products is high in part due to the high cost of transporting items to market (this is generally done by many people on a small scale, not in a centralized manner) and the general lack of development for ‘production´ on a large scale such as mechanical tools to help with harvest, factories to process and package products, etc. Everything is done by hand here. “Local” chickens (“poul peyi”) are tiny and more expensive than their fat sister imports, and the same is true for local fruits especially citrus (that is, if you don’t have your own tree!). So while we are striving to eat ‘local’ on our limited budget, the temptation of a Ramen packet looms large, as well as the tiny bags of powdered juice. As in many other countries, some of the cheapest food is imported. We also have to ignore the fact that all the water that we consume has to be purchased or expensively treated or filtered, because there are no guaranteed pure water sources in PAP and cholera is now endemic. The poor population is encouraged to treat their water with chlorine (liquid, tablet, many schemes are available) to protect themselves, but the taste of those treatments is downright terrible so my family chooses to sink more than $1 per 5 gallon jug of water (may not be expensive compared to current US rates?).