My Haitian Heritage
My eyes moisten whenever I read in the press and see these shocking images of the situation in Haiti. Maybe it’s sensitivity. Maybe it’s my Haitian roots.
My father was the third of 12 children of a man who in the early twentieth century emigrated from Haiti to Cuba. Vicente Diversent, my grandfather taught his children to speak their language. Too bad he did not have time to teach his grandchildren.
I do not speak Creole and even though languages are not a barrier to communicate messages, right now I wish I could speak the native language of my grandfather. To tell Haitians that I am also experiencing their pain. The same pain that my grandfather would feel if he were alive.
I feel like a spectator watching a horror movie. I would like to do more. Console those who have lost loved ones. Help those seeking loved ones under the rubble. Protect the thousands of homeless children who lost their parents and whose fate is already in the hands of UNICEF and several international organizations.
I am held back by reality and the constrains of my physical space. Little can be done from Cuba. But I close my eyes and ask God and the saints for mercy. And that hope returns to the land where my grandfather was born. I’m not religious, but faith is all we can cling to when a disaster of this magnitude happens.
I ask men of good will from any country, to lend a hand to Haitians of all ages who are terrified trying to escape the horror they have experienced, and the disaster that today is their homeland. I ask understanding for those who lose control due to hunger and homelessness.
But above all I ask for silence from those who for personal and ideological disputes, take advantage of this terrible situation, to talk about military intervention in a country dominated by chaos and despair. And take the opportunity to debate about who is at fault historically for Haiti’s poverty. Help where you can, but do so in silence. And if you cannot help like you would like to, remain silent.
I doubt that my father, with his 71 years, could reunite with his relatives in Port au Prince. To me, at least, remains the consolation of writing. And from Havana, from this blog, on behalf of my grandfather and the Cuban family named Diversent, descendants of Haitians, I send a message of love and solidarity to a land and people that share my same race and common genealogy.
Photo: Haitian woman photographed by Swiatoslaw Wojkowiak, Flickr.
Translated by: LJM