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#2608: basic charity, deforestation, Sirene : Ruckle comments on several items

From: James R. Ruckle <jruckle@citynet.net>

I agree with Bob Corbett, with minor modifications. When I was in Haiti
(June 1997), I looked on the general strikes with optimism, in the belief
that I was witnessing a real democratic transition. Perhaps I was. Nonetheless,
I was there to help my church with basic charity. Where democracy is concerned,
I forget who said, "Rights are taken, not given." The best role for U.S.
volunteers is to help where help is wanted (which we generally do), and
let Haitians empower themselves in the political and social arenas. I also
agree that Vodou clergy should be treated as precisely that, although I
think Susan Gray is unduly optimistic in assuming that being treated like
other Christians means being treated with respect.&nbsp;&nbsp; :-}
<br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; On the subject of deforestation, I heard it was
caused by non-terraced farming. Put simply, the soil erodes downhill. Since
Haitians heat their homes with charcoal (secondhand wood), there is little
or no underbrush to hold the dirt. The house I stayed at in Petion-ville
had rich red soil in its driveway after every rain. I had to clean up other
people's topsoil! (We put it in the back garden.) Almost anything can be
grown in Haitian soil if it doesn't erode. The variety of fruits and vegetables
that we bought by the roadway (and thoroughly scrubbed) would make a gourmet
drool. Burning wood is the only way to ward off cold (when necessary),
cook dinner, or even cure some diseases. (Haitians have figured out a way
to "bake" infectious diseases out of people's systems.) Terraced gardening
with a minimum of fertilizer would not only help Haitians feed themselves,
it might even give them food for export, and would definitely reduce infant
mortality. Night soil + bare feet = tuberculosis. Can anyone tell me how
Doctor Boulos is doing? I know he was making major headway against child
mortality in the parts of Haiti that he served when I was there.
<br>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; In the case of the Siren, it strikes me as a literary
image of one of men's greatest fears: the woman who uses her beauty to
lure him to his death. In modern folklore you are more likely to encounter
the image of the "black widow". Sorry to use one message for so many subjects,
but this list is really fast paced.
<br>James R. Ruckle
<br><a href="http://members.citynet.net/ruckle/">http://members.citynet.net/ruckle/</a>
<br>"Defeat the enmity, not the enemy."