Meet Venise (Venus in English), a resident of Bel Air.
On our last day in Haiti, we visited the neighborhood of Bel Air in the hills, not of LA, but of Port-au-Prince. Would that we were also visiting the former just long enough to ask some of the well-to-do residents there for some donations for Haiti, donations we could put to far better use ourselves than most of the NGOs soliciting money, NGOs often mired down in bureacracy, politics and corruption.
Ritzy Bel Air, West of L.A.
Woudn't it be wild if Will Smith could reprise his role as the Prince of Bel Air with a pilot episode for a series set in Bel Air, Haiti? Far-fetched? Yes. Impossible? No. Sean Penn, already in Haiti, could play one far-out neighbor.
Catch up on the investigative trip to Haiti by Georgianne Nienaber and myself from May 10 to May 13, 2010 by browsing these:
Click here for Part 1 of this series.
Click here for Part 2
Click here for Part 3
Click here for Part 4
Click here for Part 5
Click here for Part 6
Click here for Part 7
Click Here for Part 8
Click here for Part 9
Click here for Part 10
Click here for Part 11
Click here for Part 12
Click here for Part 13
I haven't quite finished with my series on Haiti yet, having been interrupted multiple times recently, including last weekend's One Nation Working Together Rally in DC, but at least I am on the final leg.
On Thursday morning, May 13th, the same day we were scheduled to depart Haiti, we still had much to do. First order of business was helping out Grandma Venise, an elderly woman Georgianne had met the first night we were in Haiti, when we undertook a night investigation of the chaotic situation in the giant tent city in the Champs de Mars district of Port-au-Prince during a heavy downpour. We were concerned that there might be a lot of leakage and flooding in the endless make-shift tents nearby the collapsed Presidential Palace, and we found that this certainly was the case as we wandered about in the dark with little more than street lamp illumination, candles and some car battery-driven light bulbs to guide the way. It was there that Georgianne met the elderly Venise, who was at her wit's end trying to survive with her daughter and grandchild in these squalid, primitive and now very wet conditions. And she had already lost two children during the great earthquake. Georgianne wrote about their encounter in this article.
Georgianne bonded with Venise that night and had since been trying to help her in little ways. This morning, however, there would be help in a big way through a timely contribution from the International Medical Corps (IMC), an NGO involved in the day to day running of the Hopital De L' Universite D' Etat D' Haiti (HUEH), Port-au-Prince's public University Hospital of the State of Haiti, and whose local cordinator, Andy Gleadle, having heard of Venise's plight, had decided to pitch in. The IMC thereby donated a first class, 6-person tent to Venise's family, and we were now on our way to deliver it to her little plot of turf in Champs de Mars.
- by Mac McKinney
In fact we have just pulled up and parked near the entranceway to Venise's section of the massive tent city in Champs de Mars. That is blond-haired Georgianne on the far right approaching the camp.
- by Mac
Two kids are sitting out front in the sun, playing.
- by Mac
Word spread fast that we were there. First out to greet us was Venise's one remaining and lovely daughter, Marie Venise, in the red blouse on the right.
- by Mac
Venise, center, was soon ooh-ing and ahh-ing over this sudden gift as Georgianne, right, showed it to her in the trunk of our car. So impressed was she that she decided she should see if she could set it up, not in the camp, but back at her badly damaged house up in the Bel Air section of Port-au-Prince, some fifteen minutes away.
- by Mac
Venise, her back to us, explained to her friends and neighbors what was going on and then she and her daughter hopped in the car.