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#2814: Re Polish presence in Haiti 12th March 2000 (fwd)

From: jacqualine labrom <ljacqui@haitiworld.com>

Re: Polish Presence in Haiti

I recently needed to accompany a journalist from Condé Nast Traveler
Magazine for him to do an article on the Polish presence in Haiti and so we
went to Cazale.  Something I had wanted to do for a long time since hearing
the story.  I was so excited.
As most of you probably know, the road to Cazale turns off just before
Cabaret and soon deteriorates into a very bumpy old road. I decided we would
ask for the local Judge when we got there, and we were very lucky to find a
very sympathetic and charming Judge who invited us to his office.  After
explaining the reason for our visit he talked to us a little bit about the
different personalities in the village who might be able to help us.  He
also mentioned that there was a book printed at the time of the Pope's visit
in 1983 and he would get us a copy.  So I'm very excited to tell you that I
have a copy of 'Présence Polonoaise en Haiti' by Laurore St Juste and Frère
Enel Clérisme.  The 1st part of the book is a dossier on the Polish Legion
in St. Domingue 1802-1803 with copies of letters from the National Archives
in Poland mainly addressed to the Division General J H Dabrowski and to
Inspector General of Infantry
Kobylanski, Captain of the Polish 3rd Brigade. The 2nd part of the book is
entitled Ethnographic Investigation and goes on to tell of the different
geographical areas where the Polish soldiers went to live - Cazale, Port
Salut, Fond des Blancs, Petite Rivière de St. Jean du Sud. It includes some
photographs of local people who are descendants of these soldiers and
divides them into the geographical areas.

The Judge took us to meet one or two of the personalities involved - they
were old men, - mainly in their late 70's with wonderful hazel coloured or
green eyes.  They were most charming and were thrilled that I could speak
Kreyol with them.  The journalist asked them if they remembered stories of
their original ancestors, but unfortunately they didn't.  However the one
thing that was still fresh in their minds was the visit of Pope Jean Paul II
and how he had sent for several of them to come and visit with him when he
was in Port-au-Prince.  Many of the people in the village as we were driving
through had very light skin, and a lot of the older women had very thick
white hair  - what the French call 'lisse' - sleek.

All in all it was a fascinating glimpse into a part of Haitian history.

I don't know if there is anyway that I can make this book available on Bob's
list, but if anyone can give me an idea how to do that I would be very happy
to.  I know that the book is now out of print and I consider myself lucky
that I have got a copy.

Jacqui Labrom ljacqui@haitiworld.com