Posted inHaiti

In Haiti, “gangs” reside where caring for community and corruption collide

After Jameson Davilma’s mother died from an illness when he was 13, the boy often counted on neighbors near his Cité Soleil home to survive. Sometimes, usually late at night, a neighbor might send him on en errand to buy food. Only then would Davilma have a bite from what the neighbor shared.

“Sometimes, I cried when I got hungry,” Davilma, now 30, recalls. “I’d wake up and couldn’t find even a piece of bread or a little coffee. I’d spent the whole morning with no food — couldn’t even buy a small marinad. Then by noon, my stomach was filled with gas.”

At the time, in 2005, a group of thugs who called themselves the “chimè” often hung out outside of their homes in Citè Soleil. Known as vociferous supporters of then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the thugs also helped residents of the slum.

In fact, these chimè fed the hungry.