Haiti : Poor Haitians Resort to Eating Dirt

Discussion in 'Black History - Culture - Panafricanism' started by Destee, Jan 30, 2008.

  1. Destee

    Destee destee.com STAFF

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    Poor Haitians Resort to Eating Dirt

    PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - It was lunchtime in one of Haiti's worst slums, and Charlene Dumas was eating mud. With food prices rising, Haiti's poorest can't afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate measures to fill their bellies. Charlene, 16 with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country's central plateau.

    The mud has long been prized by pregnant women and children here as an antacid and source of calcium. But in places like Cite Soleil, the oceanside slum where Charlene shares a two-room house with her baby, five siblings and two unemployed parents, cookies made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening have become a regular meal.

    "When my mother does not cook anything, I have to eat them three times a day," Charlene said. Her baby, named Woodson, lay still across her lap, looking even thinner than the slim 6 pounds 3 ounces he weighed at birth.

    Though she likes their buttery, salty taste, Charlene said the cookies also give her stomach pains. "When I nurse, the baby sometimes seems colicky too," she said.

    At the market in the La Saline slum, two cups of rice now sell for 60 cents, up 10 cents from December and 50 percent from a year ago. Beans, condensed milk and fruit have gone up at a similar rate, and even the price of the edible clay has risen over the past year by almost $1.50. Dirt to make 100 cookies now costs $5, the cookie makers say.

    Still, at about 5 cents apiece, the cookies are a bargain compared to food staples. About 80 percent of people in Haiti live on less than $2 a day and a tiny elite controls the economy.

    Merchants truck the dirt from the central town of Hinche to the La Saline market, a maze of tables of vegetables and meat swarming with flies. Women buy the dirt, then process it into mud cookies in places such as Fort Dimanche, a nearby shanty town.

    Carrying buckets of dirt and water up ladders to the roof of the former prison for which the slum is named, they strain out rocks and clumps on a sheet, and stir in shortening and salt. Then they pat the mixture into mud cookies and leave them to dry under the scorching sun.

    The finished cookies are carried in buckets to markets or sold on the streets.

    A reporter sampling a cookie found that it had a smooth consistency and sucked all the moisture out of the mouth as soon as it touched the tongue. For hours, an unpleasant taste of dirt lingered.

    Assessments of the health effects are mixed. Dirt can contain deadly parasites or toxins, but can also strengthen the immunity of fetuses in the womb to certain diseases, said Gerald N. Callahan, an immunology professor at Colorado State University who has studied geophagy, the scientific name for dirt-eating.

    Haitian doctors say depending on the cookies for sustenance risks malnutrition.

    "Trust me, if I see someone eating those cookies, I will discourage it," said Dr. Gabriel Thimothee, executive director of Haiti's health ministry.

    Marie Noel, 40, sells the cookies in a market to provide for her seven children. Her family also eats them.

    "I'm hoping one day I'll have enough food to eat, so I can stop eating these," she said. "I know it's not good for me."

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    Destee
     
  2. Keita Kenyatta

    Keita Kenyatta going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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    You know, when a person reads this it should bring tears to their eyes and heart. I should but it doesn't. It is equally understandable how our people who come from such places try and get everything that they can if they ever reach America. If there's a crumb of education available in terms of job skills, they go for it. If there's a good man or woman available they lock on and don't let go. One thing ios for sure, white supremacy and its black puppets must go!!
     
  3. Da Street So'ja

    Da Street So'ja Banned MEMBER

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    wyclef should be on this

    gather some in the entertainment industry to help here

    if not with money

    then some type of help somewhere
     
  4. phynxofkemet

    phynxofkemet Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    my heart breaks

    "My God, My God, why have you abandoned me? "

    Not sure what feels stronger the anger or the sadness :em4600:
     
  5. Natinr

    Natinr Banned MEMBER

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    Observasion is good but........

    From the time you posted to now, in this country we as black folks bought how many;
    Chicken and Dumlin flavored Blunts, and how much Chemical Based malt liqour,
    from Maine to New Mexico, from Fllorida to Alaska????????
    And then figure how many Hatians would that feed?????
    HAITI IS KEPT DOWN ALL THESE YEARS CAUSE THEY WERE THE FIRST TO LIBERATE FROM EUROPE,
    and that we all,
    leave Haiti hangin is a digrace!!!!!!!
     
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