By Ralph ‘Onz’ Chery
A large crowd circled in front of Cap Deli, a restaurant in Cap-Haitien, on June 18. There was a gloomy silence among them. Some of the people made their way to the front of the crowd, looked down then quickly turned around in horror.
In the middle of the circle, a 14-year-old girl, Mamoune Resy, laid lifeless on the concrete with her arms spread out and a bloodstain on her chest. She was killed by a private security guard because she refused to move at the guard’s order who became enraged when she asked him if he were a police officer.
Street kids’ deaths aren’t often mentioned in Haiti’s news media, but they happen regularly because they get dehumanized and are the first ones to be blamed for theft and other crimes.
Resy sold sweets in the streets and even cleaned cars – a job street boys usually do – to provide for herself and her family, which consists of her mother, an older and a younger sister.
Her 47-year-old mother, Ramonde Pierre, moved out of Plaisance, a hamlet to Cap-Haitien, Haiti’s second-largest city, approximately six years ago with her three daughters for safety reasons.
Pierre was initially washing clothes for a living. She fell off a terrace while she was hanging clothes and as a result of it, half of her body got paralyzed.
Since she was no longer able to wash clothes, Pierre began to ask for money in front of the city’s cathedral with her daughters. They live with a street-vendor in a small unkempt room with cardboards on the floor used as beds. Pierre and her daughters often went three to five days without eating.
“I don’t really make money asking in front of the church,” Pierre said. “Sometimes God gets into someone’s mind and I make 25 or 50 gourdes (23 cents in U.S. dollars or 45 cents) then I can buy rice and cook for my kids. But other times, I don’t make anything. We go to sleep hungry and wake up hungry. I resigned myself, I can’t go steal. I just cry. My kids tell me not to.”
In December, while Resy was asking for money a man told her he was going to buy candy for her to sell. She left her mother in front of the cathedral and became more active in the streets, therefore more at risk. Just six months deeper into the wretched street life, Resy died, leaving her family in despair.
“We used to do everything together,” Resy’s older sister, Madelene Demeus, 17, said about her. “I should’ve died instead of her because I’m older.”
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