Saturday, January 28, 2012

A day in the life: gwiot -- Haiti's national food

Haitians love gwiot. Also spelled griot, gryot, gryote, etc.* (pronounced "gwee oht"), it's fried pork.

I understand why. The stuff is good. And lucky for me, I happen to live directly across the street from the most famous griot restaurant in Jeremie! I'm a regular there.

Anyway... when I popped over tonight for "dix dola" (pronounced "deese doh luh") worth of pork, I got the usual quarter pound of fried pork along with some spicy cole slaw... which I love too.

Here are some pix from my favorite gwiot restaurant. This is the staff putting some gwyot into one of the little plastic bags in which she serves the food:In the background you can see the pot in which they deep fry the pork over the traditional charcoal fire... the same charcoal that is obtained by denuding Haiti.

Here's a pic of the mom (red neckerchief on her head) who runs the restaurant in front of their house:Needless to say, there are no zoning regulations that prohibit food establishments from being located in a residential area. Sadly, there are no zoning regs... which was a large part of the problem with the destruction of the earthquake.

And here's a close-up of the nightly dinner offering:That's the daily butchered pork to the left of the tray. The circular, yellow chips are standard fare: deep-fried plantain chips. And to the right is the spicy hot cole slaw.

When I first arrived, I was hesitant to eat here. And the cholera outbreak only compounded my fears. But I'm long past those concerns. Frankly, I got past most of those concerns when I lived in Vietnam. If I choose to live someplace, then I choose to there and accept what is thrown my way.

Tim White

* As far as I can tell, Haitian Creole has no definitive spelling for many words.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A day in the life: Helping those in need

I know I took my leave of absence from Cheshire more than a year ago, but our community continues to think of me. This Christmas, several people reached out to me to see how they could help. Among those who contacted me was the Congregational Church.

For all the years I was on the Council, the Church consistently helped Cheshire residents in need. In particular, via the Town, the Church helped fund our local heating assistance program. And make no mistake -- there are Cheshire residents in need of help. As America's middle class gets hit hard and shrinks, so does that of Cheshire. It's wonderful what the Congregational Church does, especially for the Town heating assistance fund.

But along with all the help offered to Cheshire residents by the Church, others are also helped. My organization, the Haitian Health Foundation was recently awarded a grant by the Church. It's intended to help with the education of two young Haitians:

That's me with Pharah in the pink sweater and Alinice in the pink/orange dress. The grant will assist with their education. Keep in mind that there is no public education in Haiti. The lack of public education is a recipe for poverty in perpetuity IMO. But thankfully there are many, such as the Church, who try to end the dreadful cycle.

What makes the situation even worse for Pharah and Alinice is that, as you may be able to see, they are both dwarfs. And discrimination exists here in Haiti just as it exists in the USA. So the hurdles to their dreams of a better life are that much more difficult for them to overcome.Further compounding the challenges faced by Pharah, 19, and Alinice, 12, is that they are both in the second grade. While that may be surprising to some, it's not at all uncommon here in Haiti. Since there is no public education, some kids take years off between grades. If they have no money, then they can't attend school. And the next time they have money is when they return to school. So there are 19 and 20 year olds in elementary school. (To further demonstrate this point... you can literally walk into a classroom and, based on the height of the kids, think it's a 5th grade class... only to learn it's 1st grade.)

However, dwarfs in Haiti do have a blessing in disguise. You can imagine how awful and embarrassing it could be for a full-grown adult to attend a third grade class. Yes, one should be excited about the opportunity and be focused on learning, but people are people.* It can be incredibly difficult to endure primary education as an adult. But being the same height as your classmates is beneficial.

So while it's difficult for a full-grown adult to attend second grade, Pharah's life is a bit easier because she doesn't stick out like a sore thumb in 2nd grade. And when you're born into a life of poverty in one of the poorest countries in the world, every little benefit you do have stands out that much more.

On behalf of Pharah and Alinice, I thank the Church for their help. And I also thank my bosses, Dr. Jerry Lowney (HHFs wonderful founder who lives in Norwich) and Sister Maryann Berard. Both Jerry and Sister Maryann have dedicated the past quarter century of their lives to the poor of Jeremie, Haiti.

Here is Sister Maryann with Pharah and Alinice:Sister Maryann is a saint.

Tim White

* Although I grew up -- and spent most of my life -- in Cheshire, I've also lived in France, Vietnam and Haiti. And one thing I've concluded is that despite cultural differences among peoples, there are many common denominators among us. So consider for a second being an 18 year old in middle school. The taunting could be horrendous. And make no mistake... people of all cultures can be cruel. On a regular basis I endure racism here, particularly from the 13 and 14 year olds in my neighborhood. But I overlook it because of the hardships endured by so many people -- so many good people -- here.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A day in the life: recycling food

Haitians recycle a lot. Here's a picture of some local citrus fruits called "shadek" and some oranges. The best description I can offer of a shadek is that it's somewhere between and orange and a grapefruit... both in terms of size and sweetness:After the fruit inside is eaten (or squeezed for juice), you're left with the rinds that get the skin removed:Then the skinless rinds are left in the sun to dry:Then the rinds get boiled:and eventually become preserves for breakfast bread:In some ways, Haiti has taught me some useful lessons about recycling and living a more sustainable life. I hope I can put those lessons to use when I return to America.

Tim White

A day in the life: my tropical roommate

Here's a picture of my roommate. He was also my roommate in Vietnam.
Tim White

Friday, January 06, 2012

Ron Paul takes the gloves off with Rick Santorum

Ron Paul took the gloves off. He started with Newt. Now it's Santorum:My choices at this point:

1) Ron Paul

2) Rick Perry / Jon Huntsman

I love the fact that Rick Perry actually challenges Bernanke and the Fed. But I also appreciate Huntsman being willing to ratchet back the aggressive foreign policy being pushed by Newt and Santorum.

Tim White

Thursday, January 05, 2012

MSM reporter opposes Ron Paul because of expected layoffs in journalism

Wonder why some in the MSM are so opposed to Ron Paul?

Click here to watch a Real Clear Politics clip of C-Span. In the one minute video, you'll see the press pool for the Pentagon. And you'll hear:

"See this room? Two-thirds of us laid off when Ron Paul is president,"

Shocking! Some members of the MSM are just like some of the government officials they are supposed to keep honest. They're more concerned with their own self-interest, rather than the interest of the people reading their reports.

Besides the implications of this reporter's moment of candor, I'm wondering if anyone will publish a story naming the reporter.

Tim White