Tuesday, March 9, 2010

International Women's Day

International Women’s Day (March 8) has long been an important holiday in Haiti. At this year’s celebration at Terraine d’Acra settlement, more than 400 women gathered to reflect upon loss, grief, strength and hope.

Speeches were given by women and teens, from a wide range of backgrounds. Many had lost their parents, and some had lost their children to the earthquake. Custodians, nurses and teachers spoke of their work, and the struggles they have had to get training and respect in the work place. They read poetry about women’s struggles and women’s power. Single mothers who had lost their homes spoke about the difficulty of keeping families together. Praise was given to the lives of those who died in “le catastrophe.”

Others spoke of their daily difficulties living in displacement. They spoke of their fear and uncertainty for the future. One woman told how she is regularly beaten by her husband, and how the abuse has worsened since her family moved into the displacement camp. A group performed a skit about a mother who asserted her children’s rights when her husband tried to punish his daughter with a beating.

A teen sang a song with the chorus “women hold up our families and communities.” Together, the entire group sang of their hopes for recovery and rebuilding the new Haiti.

Tony Hoffman is a lecturer at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is serving in Haiti as a Child Protection Technical Advisor for the American Refugee Committee.

The celebration was organized by Cynthia Barrella. She leads ARC’s child protection team in Haiti and is a part of the local organization Aimer = Servir, highlighted in this blog on January 24th.

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