This inspiring story comes from the latest Partners In Health e-newsletter. PIH has had a presence in Haiti for many years and is on the front lines of the post-earthquake relief effort. Visit their Stand With Haiti page to donate money and read more tales from the field.
PIH Medical Director Dr. Joia Mukherjee arrived in Port-au-Prince less than 48 hours after the 7.0 earthquake left hundreds of thousands of people dead, injured, homeless, and afraid. However, the image burnt most powerfully in her memory is one of hope.
After her first day treating patients, Joia asked the Zanmi Lasante driver, “Kote Neg Mawon?” (Where is Neg Mawon?) He brought her to the destroyed National Palace, and there in front of it was the statue of Neg Mawon. The symbol of Haiti, Neg Mawon means at once marooned man, the runaway man and the free man.
In 1804 the Haitian slaves defeated the army of Napoleon making Haiti the first and only nation founded by a slave revolution. This victory resulted in Haiti being feared by the world’s powerful countries and thus politically marginalized or dominated for the next 200 years. Symbolizing this epic struggle, Neg Mawon stands, shackles broken, machete in hand, defiant and unafraid. He blows a conch to call others to freedom.
Joia found herself weeping in front of the statue when a Haitian woman–a survivor who until that moment was a stranger–approached her. She too was crying and as she put her arms around Joia, she said, “Neg mawon pap jamn kraze.” The free man will never be broken.
See the photo and read the rest here.