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Poor Haitians resort to eating dirt

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Filed: Timeline

Poor Haitians resort to eating dirt

By JONATHAN M. KATZ, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 40 minutes ago

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.

Food prices around the world have spiked because of higher oil prices, needed for fertilizer, irrigation and transportation. Prices for basic ingredients such as corn and wheat are also up sharply, and the increasing global demand for biofuels is pressuring food markets as well.

The problem is particularly dire in the Caribbean, where island nations depend on imports and food prices are up 40 percent in places.

The global price hikes, together with floods and crop damage from the 2007 hurricane season, prompted the U.N. Food and Agriculture Agency to declare states of emergency in Haiti and several other Caribbean countries. Caribbean leaders held an emergency summit in December to discuss cutting food taxes and creating large regional farms to reduce dependence on imports.

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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counting my blessings now...

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Filed: AOS (pnd) Country: Jamaica
Timeline
Oh, my God! this just made my heart drop and my eyes water.

For Real Lita...no one should have to eat dirt to sustain themselves!!!

Dyam shame!!

Bless,

Gill


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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Jamaica
Timeline

This is so truly sad. Oh my gosh. I don't even know what to say. I feel so self-indulgent and ungrateful. I am so truly blessed to be able to provide hot nourishment to my kids. Giving all thanks and praise to my Lord and Savior.


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Filed: K-3 Visa Country: Jamaica
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Oh, my God! this just made my heart drop and my eyes water.

Good Lord, I have tears in my eyes too. This is horrible, the so sad thing is that in places like the west indies, the soil can produce food. Island nations need to stop depending on imports.

The young don't want to farm anymore. In countries like J.A. the push tourism as the alternative and don't think about feeding the people years from now.

That is a disgrace, u can't mean to tell me no one can help these people. I remember during the war or whatever u want to call it in Afganistan. America was dropping food down to the population as they were bombing them.

I'm just sickened and the poor babies.


4462482_bodyshot_175x233.gif

Me turn professional panhandler!!! but mi look good, don't??

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Filed: IR-1/CR-1 Visa Country: Jamaica
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This is sad and disturbing.. :crying:


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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Brazil
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For the poor in Haiti (F) .

A Haitian friend of mine sells earrings made in Haiti in order to send money to children there. With this small amount of money a number of children can go to school...not to mention eat.


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Filed: Country: Jamaica
Timeline

I was so saddened when I read this, this morning.

I really don't know what to say except that my heart aches for them.


Life's just a crazy ride on a run away train

You can't go back for what you've missed

So make it count, hold on tight find a way to make it right

You only get one trip

So make it good, make it last 'cause it all flies by so fast

You only get one trip

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Filed: Timeline

MAWNIN Ladies,

When I was in my early 20s I went on a trip to Haiti, this was when HIV and AIDS was getting out of hand and let me tell you, what is show on TV is nothing compared to what you see with your own eyes. I knew I grew up poor in Jamaica as well, but by the grace of God we were able to grow things and my family was able to provide for us. This was a minsionary trip. I've done a lot of these in my life. Maybe that's why materials things have no value to me. But by far, Haiti is the worse place that I've ever seen. Some people manage to get by, but it's by very poor means. Things are being done, at least from the programs that I use to particiate in. For some reason, Haiti can't move from the state that's it's in. It is so sad and because I'm a strong LOBBYIST for change ESPECIALLY in 3rd world countries don't get me started. More should be done and more can be done. I believe the leaders in Haiti want to keep it this way. They have no form of support system to protect the kids. To my Haitian friends, I feel your pain and my heart goes out to you. I don't know what state of mind I would be in if I could not feed my child. When I hear some of my friends who live in Africa talk about the things that they had to do to put food on the table for their children and send them to school, I know there has to be a better place than earth. My heart aches for the children.


********************************************************************************

....when it hurts to look back and you're scared to look ahead LOOK beside you and I'll be there.....

There comes a point in your life when you realize who matters, who never did, who won't anymore... and who always will.

So, don't worry about people from your past, there's a reason why they didn't make it to your future.

6002239865101_1_27247687.jpg (cost of the IMMIGRATION PROCESS)

tep aff a mi name

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Filed: Country: Jamaica
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I like the way you said the leaders want to keep it this way. I think that is a recurring theme all over the world.


Life's just a crazy ride on a run away train

You can't go back for what you've missed

So make it count, hold on tight find a way to make it right

You only get one trip

So make it good, make it last 'cause it all flies by so fast

You only get one trip

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I like the way you said the leaders want to keep it this way. I think that is a recurring theme all over the world.

JG,

I've always felt that way. I took 3 trips in the 90s and don't even get me started on the politicians. Even though we had U.S. protection to do the work we were doing, those FRIGGERS told us we could only hold clinic for 3 hours instead of 12. How the hell are you suppose to counsel, process, draw blood, enter data...etc.... for well over 600 plus people in 3 hours. They don't want to hear anything about prevention of HIV, about providing pre-natal care for mother to be...cho, now mi head a hat mi. Haiti will never move forward, because the POLITICANS wants to keep that country in DISPEAR....they want to keep the country in ruins, because they don't want "progress for the people." Mi no know a which EDIAT dem have there now, I think is name must be Preval or something like that. All im, cho kakaclaat mi mad now.

Smadi please push mi off the SOAP box :angry:

JG, sorry about the patios I go back and forth sometimes. I love to hear my co-workers try to read what I tpye in PATWAH. I even do it at work when I do presentations. It's funny I've been in the country for 29 years and sometimes when I run into other Jamaica they ask me if I JUST GOT OFF THE BOAT.

Tek mi outta di kuntri, but caan tek di kutri outah mi


********************************************************************************

....when it hurts to look back and you're scared to look ahead LOOK beside you and I'll be there.....

There comes a point in your life when you realize who matters, who never did, who won't anymore... and who always will.

So, don't worry about people from your past, there's a reason why they didn't make it to your future.

6002239865101_1_27247687.jpg (cost of the IMMIGRATION PROCESS)

tep aff a mi name

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Filed: Country: Jamaica
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No problems, Tre. I get you.


Life's just a crazy ride on a run away train

You can't go back for what you've missed

So make it count, hold on tight find a way to make it right

You only get one trip

So make it good, make it last 'cause it all flies by so fast

You only get one trip

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Speechless :cry:

T if you ever go back link mi up. I've always wanted to do missionary work.

Sure thing my girl. One thing though, you have to check your EMOTIONS at the door. I found that out the hard way. I did not know a person could be so overwhelm with emotions that one could pass out like I did. Poverty is one thing, but being SICK, having kids to feed and having no way or means to get help is another thing. The first trip I did, I believe I stayed 3 months. I was the youngest in my group and the only black. I was consumed with emotion. I did not eat for 2 days. As I type this I am almost brought to tears as I remebered watching kids dig through trash not to feed themselves, but to feed their sick mother who is dying from AIDS becuase their father decided to sleep with a prostitute. I went with a Woman's World Group and our main focus was to track the amount of women with HIV in Haiti.

I always wondered how people dealth with seeing things like that. All I can say is, see, but don't SEE and FEEL, but don't react. If you get what I'm saying.


********************************************************************************

....when it hurts to look back and you're scared to look ahead LOOK beside you and I'll be there.....

There comes a point in your life when you realize who matters, who never did, who won't anymore... and who always will.

So, don't worry about people from your past, there's a reason why they didn't make it to your future.

6002239865101_1_27247687.jpg (cost of the IMMIGRATION PROCESS)

tep aff a mi name

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Filed: Other Timeline
Speechless :cry:

T if you ever go back link mi up. I've always wanted to do missionary work.

Sure thing my girl. One thing though, you have to check your EMOTIONS at the door. I found that out the hard way. I did not know a person could be so overwhelm with emotions that one could pass out like I did. Poverty is one thing, but being SICK, having kids to feed and having no way or means to get help is another thing. The first trip I did, I believe I stayed 3 months. I was the youngest in my group and the only black. I was consumed with emotion. I did not eat for 2 days. As I type this I am almost brought to tears as I remebered watching kids dig through trash not to feed themselves, but to feed their sick mother who is dying from AIDS becuase their father decided to sleep with a prostitute. I went with a Woman's World Group and our main focus was to track the amount of women with HIV in Haiti.

I always wondered how people dealth with seeing things like that. All I can say is, see, but don't SEE and FEEL, but don't react. If you get what I'm saying.

I get U....I'm not sure why that would mek me pass out. I've seen the insides of wounds, huge open bed sores that stank like you would not even believe. I think I can hang...not saying I won't get emotional at first, but I can hang

Edited by brownnskinn

4457325_bodyshot_175x233.gif 4489327_bodyshot_175x233.gif

Cases complete!Enjoying life!!

PM me if you have questions

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