I did not take this photo and have no clue who took this photo, but as a person who resides in Haiti, this is a sight we see on a daily basis. A lot of people will probably find the photo comical—I have heard the joke about how many Haitians you can fit on a motorcycle or tap-tap more times than I can count.
Look at the photo again. Now ask yourself a few questions:
1. Would I put my child on that motorcycle?
2. Would I put anyone that I loved on that motorcycle?
3. Would I even put my pet on that motorcycle?
It’s really easy to look at something from a distance and judge the situation when we are not in it. So let me attempt to shed a little of that distance for you. A motorcycle here costs approximately $1000, while a used SUV in pretty good condition will cost you $12,000+. A motorcycle is a tangible goal for a lot of people, while a car is unattainable for the majority of the population.
Because of the current economic and government strife that Haiti is currently experiencing, gas is sometimes very hard to find. There are certain times and towns when the only place you can find gas is from people selling it in jars on the side of the street. This causes the prices of taxis and tap-taps to rise.
I am going to assume that the children on this motorcycle all come from families living in pretty extreme poverty. They most likely do not have enough money to send their children to school another way. They probably realize that this is a very dangerous way to transport their children. But they want their children to have the opportunity to go to school and get an education. And they probably even feel as if this is a safer way for their children to get to school as opposed to walking to school, as someone would have to be responsible for walking with all of these children. Speaking from personal experience, crossing the road with 6+ kids between the ages of 3-8 is a nightmare that is magnified in Haiti. The traffic laws in most parts of the country do exist but are largely unenforced, so traffic accidents abound.
I find this photo depressing and frustrating. Depressing that people have to sacrifice their child’s security and well-being for a chance at an education. Frustrating that it feels like a hopeless situation. Milk Carton on a String does not have all of the answers and we are not going to pretend like we know how to solve this issue. But we are going to continue to pour into the people of Malgrè through Rayon Solèy: Refuge for the Dreamer. The construction and operations of Rayon Solèy will provide more jobs and opportunities for the people of the community. And we believe that this is a step in the right direction.
Caroline Poppell, Founding Director of Milk Carton on a String