Saturday, December 30, 2006

The gravel pit

This isn't an exciting or for the most part deadly post, but the photos are nice - if I do say so myself - and the story is interesting if a little sad.

The organization I now work for is in the midst of making a video to show what our department does. Most of the video consists of people a desks looking at computers. For my part, I went out looking to show a slice of Haiti - something real and everyday. What I found was photogenic and saddening.

Where once all the houses in Haiti were built in a beautiful "gingerbread" style of wood with gables and tall shuttered windows to allow in the Caribbean breeze, now, mainly because there's no wood left (2 per cent tree cover in the entire country) the houses are built of cinder blocks hand made from Haitian concrete made from Haitian gravel.

While I was on the shoot, I talked with an old man. He looked old anyway. He might have been 45 but he looked 20 years older. After I spoke to him, I understood why he looked so old and worn. For ten years he has worked digging gravel and sand, 5 am to 5 pm for 25 Gourds a day. Now so you know, the current exchange rate is 38 Gourds to the US dollar. For 25 Gourds you can buy..... ummmmmmm, sorry, finding it hard to think of what you can buy for less than a buck. Definitely not enough to feed his family of five kids.

It was and is a sad sorry. Not unusual. People working hard, sweating, growing old before their time for less than peanuts - the discarded shells of peanuts, ground to dust under the feet of those without morals or any desire other than to please themselves.
The part where it gets deadly is that workers die all the time from cave ins. In their zeal to make a buck they dig into the rock face, creating caves twenty, thirty feet down from the crest. And eventually those caves collapse under the weight and diggers die under that same weight. Crushed under the very substance that was keeping them alive.

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