A few days after we flew kites in a village in the Dominican Republic for iEARN’s Talking Kites All Over the World project, Carlos Miranda Levy his wife, Laura, took me to Haiti for the weekend.
In the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, we spotted a boy flying a kite in one of the “temporary” tent cities that were erected after the January 12, 2010 earthquake, which killed an estimated 319,000 people and left more than one million homeless. We stopped to watch the boy concentrate on keeping his kite aloft, and said to one another: This child perfectly illustrates the philosophy of Talking Kites:
“…But if the times are very difficult,Let the wind give them (children) a kite.”— Janusz Korczak
Janusz Korczak’s moral courage inspired Ruty Hotzen, co-coordinator of iEARN-Israel, to produce the annual Talking Kites project. A famous Polish children’s author, Korczak began advocating for children’s rights in the late 19th century. He established a Warsaw orphanage built on his principles. When the Nazis invaded Poland and consolidated their power, they offered to let Korczak go to a concentration camp for Jewish celebrities, but he refused to leave his orphans. They all were gassed in the Treblinka death camp.
This Haitian child isn’t threatened with extermination, but I’m sure that Korczak would agree that life in a Haitian tent city counts as “very difficult times.”
It has been 27 months — more than two years — since Haiti was devastated by the earthquake, yet you still see makeshift tent cities like this one. Many of the larger tents (out of view) hold three families, I was told. Three families? Where do you escape for privacy? Or even go the bathroom? We could only see these five outdoor toilets for a few thousand people. To give the authorities some credit, life in this tent-city life improved a few months ago when solar outdoor lights were installed and reduced the number of rapes.
How right, then, in this difficult place, that this child should be happily flying a kite.