Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Haiti: Between Grief and Love

Despite the difficulties encountered by Haitians to get back to a normal daily life after the destructive earthquake of January 12th and the ongoing grieving in people's hearts, a place was given to the celebration of Valentine's Day in the blogosphere.

Alterpresse explained the context in which Valentine's Day was taking place this year [Fr]:

Des milliers de personnes ont encore pris part à des activités religieuses ce 14 février, 3e jour spécial de recueillement, dans le cadre d’un mois de deuil qui prend fin le 17 février, pour les centaines de milliers de disparus du terrible séisme du 12 janvier.

Thousands of people took part in religious activities on February 12th, 3rd special day of prayers, during the month of mourning ending on February 17th, in memory of the hundreds of thousands of people who died in the January 12th earthquake.

Haitipressnetwork expressed the difficulty for those who have lost their loved ones to cope with this situation. Here is one example of a young woman who lost her boyfriend after the quake and now lives in a makeshift tent camp [Fr]:

Guerdy Louis, une jeune fille de 19 ans vit un moment amer depuis le 12 janvier. Pourtant sa tristesse tant à augmenter ces derniers jours à l’approche de la fête de la Saint-Valentin, car son petit ami a succombé suite à des blessures subies lors du séisme.

Guerdy Louis, a 19 year-old young woman has lived bitter days since January 12th. Incidentally, her sadness has been increasing lately as Valentine's Day is coming closer, because her boyfriend died from wounds due to the earthquake.

In this same post, we learn that in this camp, among the 20-30 year old interviewees, 15% said that they had lost their significant other either during the earthquake or in its aftermath.

However, the month-long mourning and three-day prayers have not completely overshadowed the celebration of Valentine's Day.
Espas Ayisyen gave proof [Fr] of the people's resilience through this celebration and also published a picture of a building decorated for Valentine's Day in Petion-Ville, taken by photographer Liliane Pierre-Paul:

En dépit de la situation catastrophique régnant à Port-au-Prince et du grand désarroi de la population après le choc du 12 janvier 2010, les haïtiens toujours aussi magnanimes et altières célèbrent ce dimanche la saint-valentin.

In spite of the disastrous situation in Port-au-Prince and the people's huge despair caused by the shock after the January 12th earthquake, Haitians, who are still magnanimous and proud, celebrate Valentine's Day on Sunday.

Alterpresse confirmed [Fr] the mix of feelings but insists on the fact that Valentine's Day has never been celebrated by all the population, even before the disaster:

La douleur ressentie pour la perte d’êtres chers n’a pas totalement effacé la traditionnelle fête de la Saint Valentin, célébrée par certaines catégories urbaines dans un partage de chocolats et de fleurs entres amoureux et amis.

The grief after the loss of loved ones did not completely shadow the traditional Valentine's Day, celebrated by some urban social groups, in which lovers and friends exchange chocolate and flowers.

This year in Haiti as anywhere else, Valentine's Day brought up a rise of economic activity for street vendors and other stores [Fr]:

Des supermarchés et des magasins spécialisés ont promu des offres spéciales et certains d’entre eux sont restés ouverts au-delà des heures régulières pour satisfaire ou stimuler la demande.

Sur la place Saint Pierre de Pétionville, des vendeurs de fleurs n’ont pas cessé de proposer aux automobilistes et aux passants leurs bouquets de roses parfumées.

Supermarkets and specialized stores promoted special deals and some of them even remained open beyond the regular hours in order to satisfy or boost consumers’ demand.

At place Saint Pierrein Pétionville, flower vendors kept offering car drivers and passers-by bunches of scented roses.

In this troubled period, it is quite difficult to address questions of love and sexual relationships between people and Haitipressnetwork gave a glimpse of the issue in the same post, with this poll [Fr]:

Pour ce qui des relations intimes, notre enquête a révélé que certains couples font l’amour malgré la promiscuité qui règne dans les camps. En effet, 25 % des personnes interrogées ont affirmé avoir eu des relations sexuelles avec leur partenaire. Cependant 8, soit 40 % indiquent qu’ils ne peuvent pas y arriver alors que 10 % affirment qu’ils n’ont pu communiquer que par téléphone, sans se voir.

As for intimate relationships, our survey has shown that some couples can still make love in spite of the promiscuity in the camps. 25% of the interviewees stated that they have had sex with their partners. However 8 (40%) say they cannot do it whereas 10% declared that they are able to communicate with their partners only by phone, as they can't see each other.

The necessity to communicate with loved ones is also a point stressed by Alterpress in conclusion to the Valentine's Day post [Fr]:

Des amis et conjoints ont échangé des messages de Saint-Valentin à travers des SMS sur les cellulaires. « L’événement (du 12 janvier) me rappelle qu’il faut toujours dire aux êtres chers combien nous les aimons », lit-on dans un SMS. « On ne sait jamais ce qui peut arriver demain et il peut être trop tard », ajoute-t-il en soulignant que « ton absence laisserait un vide dans ma vie ».

Friends and spouses exchanged text messages for Valentine's Day via their cell phones. A message read “The event (of January 12th) reminds me of the necessity to always tell those you love how much you do”. “We cannot say what is going to happen tomorrow and it may be too late” it says and adds “your absence would leave an empty place in my life.”

Please visit Liliane Pierre-Paul's Flickr photostream about Haiti.

1 comment

  • HAROLD FLEURINE

    Je conseiller le gouvernement haitien engeneral pou
    commencer a evacuez les sinistrees ils faut avoir dabor un plan d’urgence dans les autres villes environ de la capital.Tel comme Acahais,quoi-des-bouquets,cabaret,gressiers,leogane,citez soleiletc.Et aussi pour moi c’est un moment les plus poppist de transformer citez soleil a un bon image.

    harold fleurine…

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site