IOM Aids Recovery Effort In Earthquake Ravaged Port Au Prince Through Comic Relief

IOM has produced a situation comedy, Sitcom, called Tap Tap, a common name for public transport in Haiti, to bring comic relief to the Haitian people,  many of whom are still living in camps and earthquake-ravaged communities two years since disaster struck the country.

The five-part sitcom aims to raise awareness about the challenges created by the massive displacement of so many in a capital city. It also spotlights the leading role of the Government of Haiti in the reconstruction and resettlement effort. The first public showing of Tap Tap before a Haitian audience took place on January 27th in Jalousie, a slum perched high above above Pétionville, the commercial heart of the capital. In Jalousie several hundred people gathered to watch and enjoy the film and left asking for more.

Tap taps are brightly painted pickup trucks used for public transportation. They are a symbol for Haitian movement and quotidian daily life. The Tap Tap is a vehicle designed with Haitian ingenuity resourcefulness and artisanal aesthetic. Haitians love humour, and the sitcom draws on a rich of comic material to bring some well-deserved relief to a population living under so much stress and strain.

Also named Tap Tap, the series is being made by a talented young Haitian director  Laudel "Zaka" Chery and his team. The sitcom is an original concept developed by IOM in Haiti which has been transformed into film by Zaka and his filmmaking team. The goal of Tap Tap is to represent real-life interactions in which Haitians can recognize themselves, laugh about their challenges and celebrate their vibrant culture. The first episode is being screened in earthquake-ravaged neighbourhoods across Port au Prince.

Tap Tap was in part inspired by the British sitcom Steptoe and Son, broadcast in the UK the 1970s and 1980s. The sitcom is centred on a hard-working family from urban slums, for which the Tap Tap is a lifeline.

Like Steptoe, Tap Tap deals humorously with the inter-generational conflicts between a father and son as he drives through the capital.

"We are delighted to play a role in supporting young Haitian film-making talent, particularly someone who understands the value of using humour to build understanding among people," said IOM Haiti chief of mission Luca Dall'Oglio.

The government and humanitarian community face enormous challenge in persuading the over 500,000 or so people remaining in camps to return home. Various strategies have successfully emptied some of the most prominent camps. Some beneficiaries are offered rental assistance or other direct aid to return home.

The sitcom also helps explain that as reconstruction gets into full swing, it is time to consider other alternatives to staying through another hurricane and rainy season.

In the film the beautifully decorated Tap Tap winds its way through areas devastated by the earthquake, past ravines and hillsides with camps clinging to the sides, through wealthier areas. The Tap Tap travels through the very heart of the earthquake ravaged capital as we follow the adventures of the owner-driver Mercidieu, his Face book-loving son and theTap Tap manager who endured the hardship of servitude as a restavek, when given away by his parents as a young boy.

In the first episode the Tap Tap breaks down outside a camp where the driver is robbed and then rescued by a dreadlocked young man who emerges from a camp. He gets a job as the Tap Tap manager.

The film is available here: http://tinyurl.com/TapTapOne

And on Face book: http://www.facebook.com/TapTapHaiti

Photos from the first episode: http://www.flickr.com/photos/haitilense2010/collections/72157628856610235/

For more information please contact:

Leonard Doyle
IOM Communications Haiti
Tel: +509 3702-5066
E-mail: LDoyle@iom.int