Today is National Beach Day and I thought it would be fun to share beautiful beach photos of Haiti with you. I really couldn't pick a favorite beach in Haiti because there hasn't been one I didn't like!
The photo below illustrates so many things for me about Haiti. I took the photo in a secluded area on Ile a Vache. There are many different parts of the sea that grew together and eventually combined into one piece. And as the outside in Haiti is chaotic and many times unfair, one thing that will always remain the same is the beauty under the sea. As Sebastian from The Little Mermaid once said..."Down here all the fish is happy."
While of course I cannot ignore the trials that Haiti is experiencing, I believe in still sharing the beauty of Haiti and her people. It's part of Haiti's narrative that deserves to be shown!
Which is your favorite beach in Haiti?
Happy National Beach Day!
I had no idea to take care of my kids hair because mine is nothing like it!
No hair texture, type, length or style is alike! That's what makes us all so beautiful...our uniqueness, especially those who won the hair lottery with beautiful curls. Those beautiful curls are not the easiest to take care of! After 6 years of brushes, detanglers, shampoos, conditioners, oils, leave in conditioners, methods and lots of tears, we have finally found a hair care routine. And we are sharing it all here with you!
My husbands hair is coarse and dry, long dreads and my hair is thick, wavy hair. Our boys have curly, but very different textures and lengths. In my opinion, the first essential item needed is a great brush. We have tried almost every single brush out there. Finally, we have discovered the best curly hair brush which takes the tangles out and leaves curls super defined.
3. Add a high-quality conditioner and use a generous amount so that the whole head is covered and you can still see the white part of the conditioner all over. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
4. While the hair is 'marinading' separate any areas that are matted or clumped together using your hands, finger comb it through as best you can.
5. Get out of the bath and spray Mizani Miracle Milk detangler (a little pricey, but worth it! You don't need a lot) all over the hair and start brushing...Don't skip this product! Keep the hair as wet as possible with a spray bottle.
6. After detangling, use a generous amount of SGX NYC Curl Power Creme for each curl. Add the curl cream in sections so that each piece is covered.
Throughout the week, if curls get fuzzy, add some conditioner and water in a spray bottle to wet the hair, use the tangle-free brush to redefine curls and apply SGX NYC Curl Power Creme.
Do you have any magical products for curly hair or effective routines? I would love you to share them in the comments!
Have you ever tried to ship something to Haiti?
Now is certainly not the time to try or to attempt to arrange logistics in order to get items to Haiti. As I have been following the news and social media accounts, there are many people trying to 'do their part' by organizing activities to collect items that are needed by Haitians and rescue relief workers. In my opinion, it's a 'feel good' activity that is often self-fulfilling and also temporary. The thought is: If I donate _____, I will feel good because _______ many people will benefit. Then I will move on with my life and feel like I made a difference. Let me break it down to those who don't understand Haiti and the challenges that are associated.
In a perfect world, your items would arrive to Haiti and Haitians would get your items in a timely manner and then start using them. In reality, this often never happens because of many logistical issues in getting goods to Haiti. There are professional thieves who stay at the port or even work there that are ready to receive your donated items that they confiscate and never reach those in need. Also, in this particular instance, getting to the south of Haiti in Ley Cayes where the earthquake happened is not easy on a good day. Now add in debris and chaos from the tragic earthquake, country insecurity, foreigners trying to get in on the one-way-in-one-way-out road. I beg you to rethink the way you 'help, donate, organize, collect, etc. for Haiti.
When I didn't know any better yet, I advocated for a small non profit to collect backpacks and school supplies for Haiti. It 'felt good' knowing that the items collected would be distributed to those who needed it. Until they weren't. I asked months after the collection if the items arrived and I was told no, they did not have the funds to ship the items and didn't know how to logistically get them there in a way they could afford it. This is where my experience influenced my philosophy. So what happened to the backpacks and supplies? Did they ever make it? Did they end up donated here in the US instead? The donors will never know. Lesson learned for me....
Find orgs and businesses that you can buy from IN HAITI.
If you want to help and contribute to the relief efforts in Haiti, consider doing it differently. Haiti doesn't need your old tshirts or tennis shoes. If you buy products from Haitian businesses, you're helping them succeed already. Plus, you're not adding to the chaos logistical nightmare. Here's a short list of orgs and businesses I trust:
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me in the comments.
By Kenneth D. Weiss
Suddenly, the lights went out. It was pitch dark, but the drumming went on, deep and rhythmic.
I was in the old Hotel Oloffson in Port au Prince, Haiti on a dark night in 1992. In the taxi I had hailed, the lazy windshield wipers could keep pace with a gentle rain.
A gingerbread mansion built in the 1890s, the Oloffson became a hotel around 1940. On some nights it offers voodoo ceremonies for its guests, other visitors to the island, and some Haitians. Voodoo is part Catholicism but with drumming, chanting, dancing, and often animal sacrifice, sudden trances, and more. The voodoo dolls we hear of are a small part of it.
Entering the hotel, I passed the reception desk and crossed a room of wicker furniture and colorful paintings, then entered a larger space where 20 or more people enjoyed coffee, dessert, and smooth Haitian rum. There was a stage on one side. I sat at a small table and strained to eavesdrop on conversations in English, French, Haitian Creole, and other languages.
About 9:30 p.m., the lights dimmed, and drumming began off-stage, quietly at first and then faster, then still faster and louder. Then, drummers and dancers appeared on stage in exotic costumes. The dancers moved around a central point, bowing, swinging arms and legs, and chanting to contact the spirits. Over the noise, I could hear the rain start to come down harder.
The drums beat still louder, the dancers moved still faster, the atmosphere was electric, and then, pop! The electricity went off. The drumming did not stop, however. The show continued, lighted by flickering candles and flashes of lightning. The thunder was ominous. Those of us in the audience were awestruck. We were transported to a forest clearing on a stormy Haitian night.
The show ended abruptly, and the patrons sat in silence. Then, we stumbled out to a parking lot, lighted only by cars and taxis waiting to drive us away. The rain let up and, this time, my taxi’s windshield wipers worked well. In my hotel in Petionville, above the city, there were electricity and soft music.
Officially, only 2% of Haitians still practice voodoo but, unofficially, the number is said to be much higher. The voodoo in the Oloffson is for show, but the real thing continues.
Kenneth D. Weiss writes memoirs, creative non-fiction, and poetry, and translates from Spanish to English. His publications include a set of vignettes about Haiti, a book of translated poetry, magazine articles, and four books on importing and exporting. He is an active supporter of the annual book fair in Gaithersburg, Maryland and heads a Creative Writers Group in that city. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees, has lived in six countries and traveled to about 80, and speaks three languages.
Photos by Diana Pierre-Louis, The Real Haiti
Hotel Oloffson 2014
As the slogan says, Haiti, Experience It! There's a certain magic to Haiti that people who have visited only understand. There are so many 'different' things to observe as outsiders, and yet, most of us keep those photographic memories stored in our heads.
A friend of The Real Haiti, Kenneth D. Weiss, emailed me to see if I would publish his epilogue that he captured while staying abroad in Haiti. After reading through the narrative, I couldn't wait to share it with you here.
Copyright © 1994 by Kenneth D. Weiss
In 1993, the United Nations, including the USA, imposed a trade embargo on Haiti. Most goods were prohibited from entering or leaving the Haitian half of the island of Hispaniola. The announced purpose was to persuade the military dictatorship to reinstate the elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had been deposed by a coup in 1991.
As with most embargos, the poor people, most of the people in Haiti, suffered much more than the rich.
The author of these notes was no stranger to Haiti. In March and April 1994, he returned to work there for a month. He could not help but observe the effects of the embargo and record his impressions.
Click here to download the full document.
Thank you, Kenneth, for sharing your experience in 'The Real Haiti'. Sound off in the comments and let Kenneth know what you thought!