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Is There a Witchdoctor in the House?

By Tzvi Fishman
1/14/2010, 12:00 AM

If there is still a witchdoctor in Haiti, it won't help. Earthquakes Are From Hashem. They don’t occur without rhyme or reason. Rather, they strike with pinpoint accuracy, like everything else in G-d's world.

The time ran out for Haiti

Our prayers go out to the survivors of the devastating earthquake.

I know many readers think I’m a Chicken Little for my stressing the importance of rectifying transgressions to the Brit. Nonetheless, the generation of the Flood was wiped off the face of the globe for this very sin, Israel was exiled from its Land for being too lax in this matter, and now Haiti has experienced a ten-second burst of Divine retribution - as a warning to other lands.

Here is a newspaper report about Haiti, published a year ago, before the quake:  

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Dieula sits in a circle of women on the tiled floor of a dimly lit room here, discussing the sexual violence that makes HIV infection an ever-present danger for Haitian women. "The woman in Haiti doesn't have rights," she says.  "Our misery increases every day."

Less than two hours by plane from Miami, Haiti has the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases in the Caribbean. Ten percent of those living with HIV in Haiti are children, and in 2005 there were an estimated 400,000 orphans, many of whose parents died of AIDS.

Traditional voodoo continues to play an important role in Haiti. Voodoo priests and priestesses are considered to be traditional healers. Catholicism is the official religion, but it is said by many that voodoo is the national religion.

Fighting Aids in Haiti has meant confronting traditional beliefs in magic and tackling a culture in which many children start having sex around the age of 12.

In the early 1980s Haitians were held responsible for the spread of the disease in the United States and other developed countries.

But Dr Marie Deschamps, co-director of the Gheskio infectious diseases clinic in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, says the truth was the opposite - it was foreigners who brought the disease into Haiti.

"From what we observed, in the beginning it was mostly bisexuals, foreign men who came from the United States, from Canada and from France. They would come to Haiti to meet with the bisexuals here just for money," she said

In the 20 years since then, HIV and Aids have spread through the Haitian population, both bisexual and heterosexual.

"The majority of Haitians are aware of Aids now. We use radio and TV to get our message across. The real challenge now is to get people to change their behavior. Sometimes their beliefs mean they don't want to behave differently."

The fact is that many Haitians, especially the five million who live in the countryside, believe that many illnesses, including Aids, are caused by magic rather than microbes.

Because of this magical view of life and sickness, Haitian peasants suffering from HIV or Aids are more likely to go and seek help from their local voodoo priest than from a government clinic.

Perhaps even more of a challenge for the authorities is the predominance of sexual activity at an early age in Haiti.

The average age for young people to begin sexual relations is 12, with many young boys and girls starting to have sex as early as eight years old, according to Dr Deschamps.

This, plus the fact that half of Haiti's eight million population is under 20, makes it even more urgent that the authorities' education and prevention campaigns hit home as quickly as possible. (end of report)

Unfortunately, time ran out for Haiti.