Noe Dorvil: A Dream Deferred

Photo by Jon Bougher

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Noe Dorvil, evicted in May, holds on to hope and struggles to create opportunity

By Ellie Happel

In May of 2012, the approximately 80 families of Camp Mozayik were evicted (watch footage of the eviction here).  Noe Dorvil was among those who lost their homes.  Some families received $125 U.S., a sort of “eviction stipend,” from the CEO of the construction company erecting a luxury building across the way.   Like many, however, Noe received nothing.  The eviction was not forced—camp leadership and camp residents agree to accept $125 U.S. in exchange for tearing down their tents and abandoning the land — but it was undoubtedly coerced.  The Mayor of Delmas had threatened residents with eviction for over a year.

Most of the evicted packed their things into trucks and moved to an empty, arid parcel in Kanaan, 20 kilometers outside the capital.  In the months after the earthquake, former President Preval declared Kanaan as land for public use.  (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canaan,_Haiti)  Since then over a hundred thousand Haitians, many of them victims of the earthquake and of forced evictions, have staked land there and built makeshift shelters.  No one has good title.  Most know that the government could come and tear down their shelters at any time.  The government provides no services: no water, no electricity, no toilets, no schools.

But there is nowhere else to go.

Like many who move to Kanaan, Noe believed that the vast land held promise. To begin anew; to perhaps start a business, selling cold drinks or cell phone credit.  Noe found solace in the open space and the view of the sea.  Now, months into life in Kanaan, Noe says things are hard.  He feels like he lives in the middle of nowhere.  Conditions in Camp Mozayik, which was about a hundred yards off of one of the busiest roads in Port-au-Prince, were dismal.  The toilets had gone months without being cleaned or emptied and rainwater regularly flooded the area.  But Mozayik’s central location provided access to customers.  Mozayik residents sold coffee, lunch plates of mayi moule – polenta – and beans, egg sandwiches, cold drinks, and, like Noe, pap-a-dap cell phone credit.  Sometimes, Noe says, he could make $5 in a day.

In Kanaan, Noe doesn’t have customers. He is far from his siblings, who still reside in a camp that neighbors Mozayik.  Most of all, Noe misses his weekly volunteering at the State hospital.  Every Friday since the earthquake, Noe and 13 of his church parish companions pooled the coins and small bills they saved from the week to pay transit to the hospital and, if they could, buy a few basic supplies for the patients they visited.  “I always wanted to be a doctor,” Noe said.  “I spent 8 years working in an orphanage before I moved to Port-au-Prince.  I helped translate for doctors who came to treat the sick.  I wanted to do the same.”  Noe says that now, he can’t afford the transit back to Port-au-Prince to visit patients.

Noe still wants to be a doctor, but he says translating for medical volunteers is a more realistic second best.  For now, however, Noe has more pressing concerns.  The tent and wood structures that Noe and other Mozayik residents built in Kanaan are shredding.  “The wind is destroying them,” Noe said.  He then asked: “What will the rain do to us if we cannot withstand the wind?”

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