No need to mince words.
Cite Soleil is a dump. A pigsty. Footing is rancid muck at neap tide, and liquifacted bilge at the perigee. The stench will do for your appetite. Pigs thrive, but people look transient, the kids in tattered shirts, excoriated skin eruptions.
The ramshackle structures had one advantage. Nothing much was lost in the eathhquake.
It’s a notoriously lawless place, violent, run by various thug outfits. There’s disproportionate mayhem, and the police don’t care to go in after dark. Women are at risk.
Open cook fires result in horrific burns, which fester untreated.
The hind end of it, on the bay, under the middle marker for the ILS for runway 10 (what the hell- add jet noise to the mix), is called derriere chabon, behind the charcoal.
The place is just chaos, entropy’s bitter end.
In Rick Freschette’s words, a fixer-upper.
He doesn’t seem to think like the rest of us.
Lives in hand, we took a mototaxi down to see what he’s doing down there.
He went down to confer with the gangsters he hired at shop rates to build his primary care clinic and hospital. The plan is to treat basic problems here, and refer the sickest ones to St Luc’s. A standard hub and spoke system- it works better for medical care than air travel.
He opened an internet cafe there, too, but it’s been slow going- the net company stiffed him, or at least didn’t fulfill the terms of the contract. Just advancing the concept surprised me- no water, no electricity, no solid structures:
Rick, what the hell are you doing setting up an internet cafe?
Well, how are they going to participate in the modern world, look at Craig’s list, submit a resume, get a job without net access?
Rick, they don’t even have pants.
Right, they’ll need to get those, too. Make a list.
A tough guy to argue with.
First, he got it off the ground- literally. All that rubble in downtown Port? Just scooped it up, and lay it in Cite Soliel, and built on it. Dry feet.
The hospital will be pretty nice- open wards with enclosed bathrooms in the back,
a throughway in the front, like the cholera hospital layout.
He used the gangsters to build the hospital and the adjacent residences. They’re not bad as builders, and the result compares well to the surround. They seem proud of it.
He visits them daily, talks things over (and counts the silverware, I suspect). It’s a vigorous discussion.
They come to some agreement, everybody representing. They connect with him.
Later, he wants to power it with solar panels (possible), truck in water (expensive) or build a water tower (very expensive), and lay out septic lines (Nah. This place couldn’t pass a perc test at gunpoint) or collect the honey pots with a very expensive truck.
Honey pots- what, they called in George Orwell to head up the department of obfuscatory monikers?
But you get the idea.
Start with a completely naive assumption.
Everybody everywhere deserves a little dignity, something clean and decent in their lives- regardless of the setting.
Then pretend everything is normal, and try to make it so.
In just a short time, this leads to surprising ideas.
I spent most of my time looking down, at the pigs and the filthy kids, at the amazing cluster of garbage and detritus at the water’s edge.
That’s a doctor’s view, I think- feet of clay. I looked at the bottom of this next picture, and asked why? Rick looked at the top half and asked why not?
That’s what faith will do for you.
But when I looked up and squinted a bit- a process made easier by my lack of wraparound shades, which would have kept perilous quantities of grit and road dust out of my conjunctivae- when I looked up and squinted, I could sort of see what he was talking about.