Below is my brief LibraryThing review of this stunning short book by Bob Belenky, author of Tales of Priut Almus: Participant Observation in a Russian Children's Shelter.
La Chanson de Chanmas, in Creole, French, and English, with photos.
If there were more stars I would definitely give them to this book. Robert Belenky and Gody Boursiquot have, in winning the trust of these girls living on the streets of Port au Prince, Haiti, and bringing their words, brief and crystalline, to readers around the world, have done a great service. Vivacity, pride, despair, and intelligence are expressed together in an amalgam of interview answers laid out as a long poem: The Song of Champ de Mars.
Do I have a dream? Oh, yes! Let me explain it to you.
My dream is to see everyone happy and in good health.
My dream is to see all the lost children find their mothers.
My family doesn’t know that I sell my body
for the taste of bread.
But, yes! I have a dream. It is a beautiful dream.
Perhaps you didn’t know…
A dream is at the center of my tired heart.
I want a loving heart, an ardent power, a simple life.
I sense myself,
The creative energy,
The wonder in my breast,
The mystery of my terrible times.
No one does anything for me. But day after day, I am
more magnificent. Each day is unique. Each night is a
secret that protects the joy of the sun that is within me.
The street reduces me to a sheet of paper they will soon
burn. But I protect myself with a poetry of beauty. I
make it penetrate the eyes of passers by. I offer this
beauty in my pleading smile.
The funds raised by the sale of Bob's book go directly to Godfroy Boursiquot and Corde Enfant Haitien -- CODEHA. CODEHA works with young people on the streets and in rural communities in Haiti, and is a community-based and inclusive organization which I have supported for years.
Big Bad Bob
Donations to support CODEHA's work can be sent directly to:
or contact me and I can put you in touch via email.
Below, Bob introduces Gody. It takes a while for the English translation to kick in but hang on; it'll come.