Unit 5 Destination Discussion - Haiti

Advance Reading: Members of the group should read Chapters Eight, Nine, and Ten, plus the interlude section “Miracle Falls” of The Big Truck That Went By.


Having finished these chapters, turn back to Chapter Nine, “Sugar Land,” and try to recount the basic outline of the land deal that Katz describes. Why did international actors first decide that earthquake victims needed to be relocated? Who first came up with the idea to relocate them? How was the relocation site chosen? Who benefitted from the choice of relation site? Did the earthquake victims benefit from the relocation?

  • Why do you think Katz describes this land deal in such close detail?
  • How would you relate the story of this land deal to the larger themes of the book?
  • How would your relate it to the themes of our unit this week on “Bearing Witness,” especially the reading from Ivan Illich about “white saviors”? Who are the “white saviors” in the land relocation story? In what way is Illich’s critique of white saviorism confirmed or challenged by this story?

Beginning on p.203, Katz addresses the question of “Where did the [aid] money go?”

  • What, if anything, surprised you in Katz’s response to this question?
  • If you had been asked the same question, would you have supplied the same answers Katz gives, or would you have guessed that other factors had been involved in the failure of the relief effort?
  • What else most struck you in these chapters? What scenes or passages do you find your mind turning back to?

Take a Break!

Take a break by listening to two songs from Haiti’s most musical 2015 presidential candidates. Here’s a cover of “No Woman No Cry” by the Fugees – the band that launched the career of the young Wyclef Jean:

See also “Prezidan” by Michael Martelly – the song that earned him the nickname “Mr. President” long before he became an actual candidate, in Katz’s telling (p. 209). (https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/pa-manyen/id368684064)


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