Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Looking with New Eyes: A Personal Account of Recent Trip to Haiti (Colleen McLaughlin, Phosphorescence, Inc.)

By Colleen McLaughlin, IJDH Volunteer Consultant on recent trip to Haiti
March 25, 2011

internally displaced persons campEach time we embark on something new, we open our eyes in a different way. We notice elements of the experience differently. When you land in a new place, you have to take it in differently, for guideposts, markers, unique characteristics. Each time I land in a new city or country I open my eyes differently, wondering what is different, what is new, what will this trip uncover. This last trip to Haiti I kept noticing the language we used, the acronyms we relied on.

Why do we call the tent cities where almost a million Haitian live IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) Camps. They are communities or cities of people living in tents. The tent is their home. The IDP explains they are Haitian and not refugees from another country, but, it diminishes the severity of the situation. They are more than displaced. They are living on almost any stretch of land available to them. Fighting for water, food, health, clean sanitation, safety, privacy, a livelihood and dignity. Calling them IDP Camps somehow allows up permission to not fight for a long term solution. It is outrageous that almost a million people live without basic human rights and have done so for more than a year. Let’s call it what it is, unimaginable for almost every American. IJDH and CCR are fighting for Housing Rights for Haitians. Get involved. Learn More. Donate at

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