Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti PDF/EPUB Ä

Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti PDF/EPUB Ä

Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti ❮EPUB❯ ❀ Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti ✻ Author Amy Wilentz – Larringtonlifecoaching.co.uk An account of a long painful ecstatic— unreciprocated—affair with a country that has long fascinated the world The Rainy Season Amy Wilentz’s award winning 1989 portrait of Haiti after the fall An account Voodoo: A Kindle Ø of a long painful ecstatic— unreciprocated—affair with a country that has long fascinated the world The Rainy Season Amy Wilentz’s award winning portrait of Haiti after the fall of Jean Claude Duvalier was praised in the NY Times Book Review as “a remarkable account of a journalist’s transformation by her subject” In her relationship with Farewell, Fred PDF/EPUB or the country since then she's witnessed than one magical transformation Now with Farewell Fred Voodoo she portrays the extraordinary people living in this stark place She traces the country’s history from its slave plantations thru its turbulent revolutionary history its kick up the dirt guerrilla movements its totalitarian dynasty that ruled for decades its long troubled relationship with Fred Voodoo: A Letter from PDF/EPUB ² the Fred Voodoo: A PDF/EPUB Á USA Yet thru a history of hardship shines Haiti’s creative culture—its African traditions French inheritance uncanny resilience a strength often confused with resignation Haiti emerged from the earthuake like a powerful spirit This book describes the country’s day to day struggle its relationship to outsiders who come to help out There are human rights reporters gone awry movie Fred Voodoo: A Letter from PDF/EPUB ² stars turned aid workers priests musicians running for president doctors turned diplomats A former US president works as a house builder voodoo priests try to control elections A foreign correspondent on a simple story becomes over time a lover of Haiti pursuing the essence of this beautiful confounding land into its darkest brightest corners Farewell Fred Voodoo is a spiritual journey into the heart of the human soul Haiti has found an author of astonishing wit sympathy elouence.


10 thoughts on “Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti

  1. Warwick Warwick says:

    A week after the Haitian earthuake of 2010 I came across this American guy setting up relief packs on a little folding table by what used to be a street corner in a levelled part of Port au Prince He'd come on behalf of some church group back in I think Murfreesboro TN and he was putting together these little packs made up of bottled water pasta iodine tablets dried fruit Laying them out on the table A line of Haitians was starting to form in front of him waiting for the packs to be distributedAs I stood there watching a huge USAID truck suddenly drove up and parked just over the street from him From the back of the truck a man in uniform started throwing these enormous aid sacks out to the crowd full of rice and fruit concentrates and painkillers and chocolate bars And all the Haitians that had been ueueing in front of the little folding table now all crossed the street to the truck instead And I watched this guy from Tennessee look down at his little relief packs and then look over at the big USAID sacks And he just looked utterly crestfallenAnd I thought who the fuck is organising this?Of course no one was organising anything as soon became very obvious Amy Wilentz had already been travelling in and writing about Haiti for some twenty five years when the earthuake happened; she was therefore unusually ualified among outsiders to talk about how Haiti reacted and to contextualise the gigantic but inefficient response from the international community of journalists aid groups and political leadersShe was not impressed but nor was she surprised in the way that I constantly was during my time there Indeed one way of describing this book is to say that it's an explanation of why all the other outsiders who talk about Haiti or try to help Haiti can fuck right off Jean Jacues Dessalines one of the leaders of the Haitian Revolution is supposed to have said Blan bon lè li san tet – roughly ‘the only good foreigner is a headless foreigner’ – and at times Wilentz seems broadly to share this view ‘You can feel their résumés growing’ she says surveying the reporters and cameramen swarming around the rubble of Port au Prince ‘against the backdrop of the earthuake's destruction’Yes I suppose the experience didn't do my CV any harm I take her sarcasm in the spirit in which it's meant which is to say I share many of her concerns That said not all of us were Christiane Amanpour in her vast suite at the Plaza with a balcony overlooking the remains of the presidential palace In my experience most correspondents – believe it or not – are thoughtful and empathetic and care about what they're trying to explain and they live and work in shitty unsafe conditions which they do not talk about because to do so given the context of their visit would be grossly distasteful and unprofessionalWilentz is uick to stress that individual reporters and aid workers she knows are intelligent and sensitive and so forth – but as an aggregate group their work in Haiti is nevertheless rooted in ‘the objectification of the Haitians' victimization’ Yes I suppose it is though this does raise the uestion of whether the alternative to objectivising it would be to ignore it She is eually disparaging of the public reading or watching at home She imagines a young guy in the US leafing through portraits of survivors in a photojournalist picture book a ‘safe and unembarrassing’ experience for him and concludes that overall ‘he's enjoying their misfortune’ I sympathise with Wilentz's cynicism over disaster response but this does seem a little unfair particularly since she's made the guy upShe is critical and I understand why of the kind of video material that I was getting at the timeLook at this the footage shouted Yo the morgue is just a scene of damnation it went on Look how bad this is over here it saidRather as though all the cameramen are jocky adrenaline junkies chewing gum and muttering ‘fuck yeah’ under their breath as they watch another injured local bleed outTwo hundred and fifty pages later though her own descriptions of the scene are not exactly a model of sober understatementTry walking through the concentration camps of the Balkans the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge the excavated mass graves of El Mozote downtown Dresden the outer circles of Hiroshima That's what it was like in Port au Prince in those daysI can't help thinking that she's trying to have her cake and eat it More to the point – and with the greatest respect to Amy Wilentz who knows Haiti infinitely better than I ever will – what she says here is just not true Port au Prince was nothing like a concentration camp or a mass grave In those places what you feel is not just the suffering but an overwhelming sense of evil of man's inhumanity to man That was not the case in Haiti; uite the reverse There was a lot of suffering but everyone was in it together No one had done this to them The desire to overcome it was shared by all races religions and social classes within the country and without It was not the result of some idiotic conflict whose divisions would continue to fester There was no sense of evil And instead of man's inhumanity to man it was rather man's humanity to man that was in evidence most obviously and yes brashly with those clumsy convoys from Wilentz's hated NGOsPart of the problem – and despite my argumentative tone this is one of the book’s strengths not a weakness – is that she can’t really make up her mind what the appropriate response should be She criticises those groups who simply throw money and resources at short term problems arguing that a considered and sustainable approach is necessary which involves the Haitians themselves Fair enough But the next moment she is deriding a project that specifically tries to involve all levels of Haitian society in a ‘national conversation’ about relief because she says angrily ‘what Haitians want is not a national conversation—which is an outsider idea—but simply please to get their damn problem fixed’All of her objections are valid – than that they’re convincing – but after chapter upon chapter of them you do start to feel that there is no possible response from any group that could satisfy Amy Wilentz What this comes down to of course is the awareness floating under the skin of the whole book that she herself is not very different from any of the outsiders she is writing about and a good deal less helpful than many She’s probably made money by capitalising on Haitians than most of the journalists or volunteers that responded to the earthuake after all ‘This very book that you have in your hands is one example’ she says ‘No share of its proceeds will directly benefit Haitian relief efforts’ Farewell Fred Voodoo is a fascinating study in sublimated guilt which is the emotion that gives Wilentz’s writing its particular power and bite here She’s a great writer and her unsentimental clear eyed assessments are absolutely necessary in an area too often dominated by histrionics or wishful thinking And many of her targets deserve everything they get it was a particular pleasure to read the calm chapter long demolition of Mac Mclelland’s grotesue article about how she got PTSD from covering the anniversary of the uake which she solved by some rape roleplay with her boyfriend an article that outraged me at the time and still does Despite my instinctive perhaps over defensive problems with her arguments I would heartily recommend this to anyone trying to understand what happens after a natural disaster in general and to understand Haiti in particularStill I do wish she could have found a little room to acknowledge the extraordinary things that were done however clumsily or unsustainably in those early days ‘The victims of a disaster like the Haitian uake become a moneymaking tool for these groups’ she says talking about the big NGOs Certainly on the ground a lot of the money seemed to be going on branded clothing and vehiclesHowever without those donations and whatever filtered down to them from those monies would Haitians have survived the initial days and weeks after the earthuake?She offers this up as though it's a rhetorical uestion but it isn't The answer's a clear No


  2. Karen Ashmore Karen Ashmore says:

    Although I eagerly devoured Amy Wilentz’s new book Farewell Fred Voodoo it sometimes seemed antithetical One chapter espoused a certain tenet and then just a few chapters later she stated just the oppositeFor example much of the book is spent detailing the “miraculous” work of Dr Megan Coffee who flew to Haiti after the earthuake and practices medicine on a volunteer basis with a TB ward in Port au Prince Yet towards the end of the book Wilentz admits that some of the best private hospitals in Haiti went bankrupt because they were put out of business by the free health care that became available as American doctors flooded the country after the earthuake and volunteered their free medical services Is this a matter of good intentions that did not consider the local impact or does it underscore the weakness of the Government of Haiti GOH in providing health care?It did remind me when subsidized American rice flooded the market and put Haitian rice farmers out of business Although the flooding of medical help was in response to an emergency the importation of cheap rice proceeded in the face of irrefutable evidence that it was harming Haitian rice farmers and eroding national production Former President Bill Clinton has since apologized for forcing Haiti to drop tariffs on cheap imported rice and admitted it was a mistake – a badly construed policy that seriously damaged Haiti’s ability to be self sufficient Perhaps well intentioned but without consideration of the impact on local HaitiansThe book felt like a celebrity pop culture magazine at times Much of the book focused on Sean Penn the Clintons and other celebrities with obligatory references to voodoo and zombies presumably to sell books Wilentz even says the mélange of celebrity tragedy and charity are what sells developing world stories to the entertainment consumers of our day” She admits that these celebrities were given access to privileges and funding that local Haitian organizations with stellar track records could not get Yes Penn’s organization has accomplished a lot but it got megabucks from day one Despite a few criticisms there are several values worth stating again and again Wilentz describes Haiti as a “feel good” tourist destination After the earthuake this accelerated into a “crisis caravan” with thousands of missionaries engineers heath care workers architects and disaster professionals thundering to Haiti with “salvation” fantasies They believed they could generate solutions to Haiti’s problems In a country with 70% unemployment there are many Haitian professionals who could provide these services and were indeed hungry for work in a city that was virtually demolished But these newbies mistook themselves as part of a grand solution when in fact they were part of Haiti’s ongoing problem Who better to build back Haiti but Haitians themselves? Wilentz agrees and says it’s even better when “Haitian things are built by Haitians themselves with their own investment and planning Then those things reflect Haitian character culture and imagination”BINGOs Big International NGOs you know who I am talking about also flocked to Haiti with their SUVs and highly paid consultants many of whom were out of touch with the everyday people It reminds me of a time I was sitting on the veranda of the Hotel Oloffson in Port au Prince recounting a story to a USAID official about a recent meeting with peasants in the Artibonite province to discuss building a training center for growing plantains The USAID employee who was restricted to only State Department approved sites and usually spent all his time in front of a computer instead of people asked “How did you know to do that?”“We asked the people” I blithely repliedMany NGOs American aid and foreign volunteers forget to ask the people what they wantAs the former Executive Director of the Lambi Fund of Haiti I learned this is the basic premise for success in Haiti Haiti has a lot of problems but Haitians must be part of the solution Sure some skills training may be needed but Haitians themselves have a wealth of ideas creative solutions and a desire to build their own Dambisa Moyo author of Dead Aid Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way and Amartya Sen the Nobel Prize winning author of Development as Freedom ask Does development aid ever work? Might donations be better spent investing in local enterprises? Can programs conceived by foreigners achieve results in differing cultures and practices than their own? Or are they trying to replicate themselves cookie cutter style in a developing country? Should donors decide how aid is to be used or not?This leads to the uestion “How do donors learn about local Haitian led solutions that work?” Until there is a tool that informs us of effective transparent transformational efforts that are developed by the local people donors will continue to be drawn to the BINGOs and celebrities who garner than their fair share of publicity and may actually incur unintended conseuences Perhaps there should be a data base with rigorous criteria of exemplary Haitian led programs that could help guide donors through the maze of helpful and not so helpful groups working in Haiti Then we might see lasting positive impact


  3. Andrew Schirmer Andrew Schirmer says:

    I am either the best or perhaps the worst sort of reader for this book knowing virtually nothing about Haiti and her history but my interest was piued by Pooja Bhatia's review here Amy Wilentz is a journalist with an extensive background covering Haiti and the author of a well received previous work ably reviewed with an illuminating thread here If reality as Nabokov writes somewhere can only be constructed through a series of approaches my math background cries out to infinity? Wilentz's book is a series of conscious steps free of blinders amazingly given her past engagement and naivety about Aristide and without any attempt to be definitive towards the portrayal of the post uake Haitian reality and the role of Western interventionists past and present Wilentz can be disarmingly honest Since the earthuake I've made about an eighth of my income writing about Haiti and the earthuake Without all those Haitian victims I would not have made that money and in fact all my writing about Haiti has been about a continuing human tragedy that is happening to others while I profit from it as well as counter intuitive Haiti is a beachy island but most of its people are not swimmers and water isn't something they adore They're mountain people or city people Perhaps because of its long initial isolation from the rest of the world after slavery was defeated Haiti feels like an island turned on itself the mountainous contryside removed from access to the sea and the long streches of beach looking up to the mountains rather than out over the water to lot bo dlo The book is a series of letters each prefaced by a Creole proverb which to anyone with a French background can be intriguingly parsed detailing variously the lives of ordinary and extraordinary Haitians aid workers and her own experiences There is no rogue's list per se but Wilentz deftly parses the contradictions and hypocrisies of doing aid work on the island Sean Penn says that he's in Haiti in part because of a sense of duty and that this sense of duty is coupled with a kind of narcissism Penn rounds out a cast of characters ordinary Haitians former members of the elite circle from the Aristide days oddball expats Penn par excellence who seem to find their way to Haiti and a selfless doctor or two who figure out how to work the system and actually make a small difference And for those of us or less in the dark as regards the entanglements of the United States and Haiti over the last two hundred years Wilentz intersperses succinct historical primers Rather than dwell on the dysfunctions in Haitian society the traditional narrative espoused in Western media of which there are plenty Wilentz elegantly accumulates evidence by example of a grand narrative of Haitian history the corrupter and the corruptee Showing that there has never been a time in Haitian history when outsiders did not meddle Wilentz lays bare this odd dance that has gone on for so long Why have we needed Haiti? And does Haiti need us? At what cost?


  4. Rob Slaven Rob Slaven says:

    As always seems to be the case I received this book courtesy of a GoodReads giveaway Despite that kind consideration my candid thoughts reside comfortably belowThe first thing to make absolutely clear about this book is that I was rather surprised to find it in the 'Travel Guides' section of I imagine a travel guide as a book that suggests you absolutely MUST see X but don't go to Y or you won't come back but that's clearly not the focus of this book There are no lavish photographs of tourist attractions or lists of grand local restaurants This is a book about the heart soul and sometimes viscera of a country in turmoil from the viewpoint of someone who has spent uite a bit of time there The author's view of the nation of Haiti is one you get after years there not the one you see in a two week vacationThrough our author's eyes we see the nuts and bolts history of the country some of its people and a peek into its future The writing is superb and enthralling and paints a wonderfully vivid picture Highly recommended for those who want to know about a little known part of the world Expertly and eruditely constructed it's a biography of the country written around the memoir of the author


  5. Erik Graff Erik Graff says:

    Not as impressive as her previous The Rainy Season a survey of Haitian history and politics after the fall of Baby Doc this Letter is a rather scattershot impressionistic view of the country after the earthuake and subseuent cholera epidemic Insofar as it has a point other than giving a sense of the place and its people the book touches upon broader themes of third world underdevelopment and first world exploitation of same often in the guise of 'aid'Personally my stepbrother being one of those aid workers and me having made some study of the country and having met a number of his colleagues Haitian and American over the years I found this book interesting on several counts tantalizing like little canapes presaging a meal which never comes Thus she talks a lot about Aristide and her relations with him and his family and friends but gives very little detail about his presidencies and his manipulation by the United States


  6. Mike Mike says:

    This is the second book by Amy Wilentz that I read before my trip to Haiti This one has of a personalmemoir with less of a journalistic flavor Amy also seems pessimistic and jaded in this write up than in 'The Rainy Season' and who can blame her? After 20 years of traveling to and writing about Haiti it's no wonder she's critical In a way I found it refreshingThis is predominately focused on Haiti after the 2010 earthuake that devastated the country It's almost written like a collection of short storiesessays that are all strung together to complete the overall picture There's the good Megan Coffee Tuberculosis Doctor extraordinaire the bad Mac McClellund claims to have suffered PTSD from her journalistic stint in Haiti and her 'healing process' and even the celebrity Sean Penn overcame his own ignorance to become one of the efficient aid advocates I would definitely recommend this book especially if you're planning on traveling or working in Haiti My review is no where near the uality of some of the others so I'm going to link a few of my favorites below as well as a few uotes from the bookReviews 3 stars 4 stars 5 stars 5 stars The Haitian Revolution was one of three defining revolutions of the 1700s and as much as the American and French Revolutions it has shaped the world we live in It destroyed the era's economy of slave capitalism; it wrecked the global ruling powers' desires of eternal colonialism The Haitian Revolution outcome of the fervor and intelligence of so many unlettered and enslaved Fred Voodoos anonymous but valiant warriors also extended the ideas of the Rights of Man to all men and women; and it suggested the concept of labor rights that was later expanded on in Europe and eventually the whole world It distracted Napoleon and forced him to sell the Louisiana Territory to the Americans thereby turning the United States into a continental power In addition the slaves triumph in Haiti limited France's future economic power and ironically made an opening in the global economy for the rising United States which was still the beneficiary of its own unpaid slave labor force pg 91Ignorance is a virtue for Penn at least insofar as he gets himself portrayed His success at getting things done in a place he initially knew nothing about and the failure of many aid groups with expertise to do the same reminds me that often it is actually those who do remember history who are doomed to repeat it while those who have no idea or who've forgotten can sometimes escape a reprise Sometimes it's better to know less even though people who know and have ore invested in that knowledge and who think they can predict a failure from the typical indicators people like me that is will always look down on you and will always tell you it cannot be done Often the experts will be right but sometimes they'll be wrong especially in extraordinary circumstances The earthuake combined with the fame and energy of Sean Penn was just such an extraordinary circumstance He's a peculiar and unexpected person in an unexpected situation and all those who predicted failure fuck up and combat fatigue for him were wrong pg 142One American teenager I know went down to Haiti before the earthuake to work in a clinic in a remote village One hot morning he and some other foreign volunteers were digging and lifting small boulders out of the clinic's future garden space A small knot of Haitian teenagers were watching leaning up against a fence hooting and laughing Finally the volunteers turned and asked them what it was that they found so absolutely hilarious The Haitian kids answered You came here to do that for free? The Haitians just couldn't get over it To them these Americans were suckers pure and simple pg 154No one should co opt someone else's pain My rule is don't be full of pity and charity Don't feel sorry for them rule number one Be glad you're not in their situation but don't pity Their pain is theirs and in disasters and destroyed places their pain and their survival are sometimes even important aspects of their identity Don't pretend it's your story Don't bee an occupier of their narrative; don't be an imperialist in their lives; don't colonize their victimization pg 210Haiti is incredibly raw blunt and in some ways vulnerable If you are comparing life in Haiti with life in the States life in Haiti is real in some strange way vibrant and raw More colors Very little is hidden here People bathe in the street they beat their kids in the street they march in the street they sell plantains in the street If you're fat people call you fat If you're skinny people call you skinny If you're missing a tooth people call you toothless it is what it is Lavi a bel lavi a dwol Life is beautiful and funnyI suppose for Americans who are brought up with the idea that the US is the land of the free but who somehow end up as slaves to the paycheck and their own social class Haiti or their experience of it represents true freedom with all its positives and negatives My Haitian friend was beaten up in te street with no justice to follow; a friend of mine said This country is free so free that someone is free to beat up someone else just like that If you like freedom you swallow all of it The good and the badBut also Haiti is functioning chaos There is order in Haitian disorder Haiti functions not despite but because of its chaos including the earthuake So I would say that Haiti is the perfect intersection between chaos and order where this crazy system somehow works everyday the tap taps the mabi merchants the kids going to school the gangsters the papadep men the Papa Docs the whole of it somehow works People make it work Even cholera and an earthuake didn't knock this country too off track haiti is the most organized disorder you can findIn other words Haiti needs to be understood in Haitian terms pg 211 212


  7. alice alice says:

    Don't waste your money on this book full of cliches while hypocritically claiming that it wants to depart from them This is a clever glorification of the White Savior Industrial complex Refer to Karen's review under Community Review for the summary of all the things wrong with this book


  8. Kkraemer Kkraemer says:

    This is a series of essays anecdotes reflections pensees about Haiti The writer has been visiting Haiti for 20 years and has written about it extensively in a voice from a perspective that is thoughtful and self consciously ignorant She is an outsiderHaiti is utterly fascinating It's not African It's not Caribbean It's not European It's certainly not American It's all of these but none of them either It's a life uniue unto itself intimately involved with death and destruction of incomprehensible proportionsAnd she is befuddled Why is this place so utterly fascinating? Why does it continue to suffer? What can be done? It is a place where terrible things happen AIDS earthuakes invasions of foreigners starvation illiteracy cholera pollution deforestation tbjust to name the most obvious It's a place that draws aid workers like a magnet and many are passionate and hardworking but somehow Haiti just keeps being the place where bad things happen Why does nothing change? How can it be that such a place floats out there in the Caribbean just so close to the toe of one of the most powerful countries on earth?Does prolixity matter at all? Maybe notand Walentz has no answers She knows that most outsiders including herself fundamentally misunderstand Haiti and its people and she knows that what's been done so far hasn't worked She knows that some people Paul Farmer Sean Penn and Megan Coffee are helping She knows that cellphones are changing everything She knows that millions of dollars have not cleared the rubble or solved health problems or given people security Her uestions are apt is Haiti riveting because it defies our expectations and assumptions? Is it riveting because it's so awful? is it because it's so exotic? what draws usand who's benefiting from our fascination? Wilenz will continue to visit and write about Haiti I will continue to read everything I can find about Haiti Like Wilenz I'm not entirely sure why but I know that this fascination is part of my soul


  9. Heidi Heidi says:

    Upon winning a copy of Farewell Fred Voodoo and reading it's summary my first thought was “Oy White people writing about POC instead of letting them tell their own stories” I don't regret that reaction because frankly I'm positive Ms Wilentz would have thought it as well In addition to Haitian history specifically the slave revolt Farewell focuses on the recent and destructive earthuake and the ways in which foreign aid organizations have swarmed in and in many cases made the situation worse By knowing nothing about Haiti's population geography government so many individuals and organizations have lined the pockets of the already wealthy at the severe detriment to the people in need It calls so many out on their liberal guilt and patronizing condescending words and actions “No one should co opt someone else's pain My rule is don't be full of pity and charity Don't feel sorry for them rule number one Be glad you're not in their situation but don't pity Their pain is theirs and in disasters and destroyed places their pain and their survival are sometimes even important aspects of their identity Don't pretend it's YOUR story Don't be an occupier of their narrative; don't be an imperialist in their lives; don't colonize their victimization”I'd share uotes but we'd be here all day considering how many I markedI wish this book was reuired reading for those who think themselves the Great White Savior Who use the pain and suffering of others to prove their own sainthood


  10. Melissa Melissa says:

    Great insight and empathy and from a writer who knows and loves Haiti not just despite Haiti's issues but because of them Some things were so bitingly truthful that it was almost hard to read and have it put into black and white terms others were so glaringly cynical and ironic I wanted to screamI appreciate her being able to authoritatively call out Mac McClelland a narcissistic writer for Mother Jones who's highly publicized white girls problems made the rounds on the internet after the Haitian earthuake Mac was said to have gotten PTSD after witnessing a Haitian woman have a traumatic breakdown after seeing one of her attackers from a brutal gang rape in the street Mac was so traumatized she came home and asked an ex boyfriend to simulate a violent rape during sex Regardless though her chapters on the problem with foreign aid and outside intervention in Haiti were powerful and thoughtful The chapter on the loup garou was culturally eye opening There was a history lesson on every page And there was the great introduction of modern day heros like Dr Megan Coffee and the musings on the ambivalence of Sean Penn's presence thereFor anyone who loves Haiti it's a must read


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