They’re called Bui-Doi
The Dust of life
Concieved in hell
And born is strife
They are the the living reminders
Of all the good we failed to do
We can’t forget
Must not forget
That they are all
Our children too
In Vietnamese, the term bui-doi refers to Vietnamese street children. It was used in the musical Miss Saigon (a song of the same name opens Act II), and refers to the children born to a Vietnamese mother and an American GI father during the Vietnam War. They were the children left behind, the children forgotten about and ignored, the children without a clear home. I saw Miss Saigon on Broadway three times (it’s actually currently being revived in London with plans to bring it to New York at a later date) and Bui-Doi was always my favorite number even though it was the saddest and most haunting one.
But today’s post isn’t to discuss this incredible musical. It’s to remind you that four years ago today, a horrific earthquake struck the impoverished nation of Haiti. And while we would like to think that once the Brian Williamses and Anderson Coopers head home and stop reporting on it that everything is fine, it’s indeed not the case. Four years later it’s estimated that more than 300,000 people are still living in tents. Think of all that you have seen and done in four years and imagine spending those 1,460 days in a tent without electricity, running water, normalcy. With people living on top of each other in horrid conditions, environments one would have expected to see 100 years ago, disease running rampant, basic sanitation non-existent.
The earthquake that struck Haiti on January 10, 2010 was one of the five deadliest disasters in modern history. It took the lives of over 300,000 people-Haitians and scores of people of other nationalities. Young, old, healthy, sick-they were all affected. But four years later it is the faces of the children, the “bui-doi,” that haunt me the most. The people of Haiti don’t deserve anything that has happened to them. The majority of the population live in abject poverty and in a region of the world that is constantly beset by natural disasters, earthquakes and hurricanes. But what of the children who are being born into this life? The children who get sick from diseases that here in the United States have been eradicated decades ago. The children who have no chance at a childhood because they are forced to work. The children who think that living in a tent is normal. The children who are orphans, who will never have a mom and dad to guide them and be at their side.
Four years later and my heart still breaks when I think of the poor people of Haiti because I know for them that very little has changed. They will be forgotten about by most of the affluent Western world until another natural disaster strikes there. I wish that were not the case but it always is.
When you think you don’t have enough, think of the people of Haiti who have so little. When you think stuff is bad, think of the people of Haiti who have dealt with unimaginable horrors. When it’s 16:53 (EST), take a moment of silence to remember the dear people of Haiti, and especially the bui-doi.
For more information on an organization that was founded to provide a “safe haven for the vulnerable and displaced children from Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010″ click here.
Julie is a librarian by day, die-hard travel fanatic and writer by night. When she’s not traveling, she’s either testing out a new recipe or being a foodie in Pittsburgh. If you're interested in seeing where she travels to or what she makes next, follow along via the links below!