On Feeling Trapped: What Mobility Looks Like In Haiti


I’ve thought a lot recently about feeling trapped.  In Tabarre, we aren’t permitted to walk anywhere.  There are armed guards at the gates to all of the NPH properties, and we have to find a driver and request a ride anytime we want to go somewhere, whether it’s work, mass, or the grocery store.  If the trip is far, the ride can be expensive, and our drivers technically end work at 7 PM, so if we want to go anywhere after that, we know that the drivers—who we see every day, and consider our friends—will have to stay late, after already having usually worked more than 12 hours.  There have also been many manifestations recently because of the gas strikes and the political unrest, so even if we have a car and a driver, the road might be unsafe and impassable.  When you’re used to coming and going at will, walking anywhere you like, and maybe even having your own vehicle, the lack of mobility can start to feel oppressive.  Our community at the villa is relatively small; regardless of how much you like people, it can be challenging to spend the majority of your time for months on end with the same small group of people, day in and day out.  It’s easy to complain about the freedoms and comforts we miss.

However, when I start to feel stressed and overwhelmed by the living conditions here, I have to step back and remind myself that I came here by choice.  I am fortunate to have been welcomed to work and live in Haiti, and I have an education, resources, and a United States passport, which means I have the freedom to leave at will.  All of these things are privileges, and ones that many Haitians do not have.  So maybe I can’t even begin to really comprehend what it is to feel trapped.

by Katie Lawler on January 29, 2015

Be sure to check out Katie’s personal blog @http://katiemarielawler.blogspot.com/ for more regular updates on her life and work at the Saint Damien’s Pediatric Hospital in Tabarre, Haiti.

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