Albina is one of Suriname its eight or ten districts. I am from here, lived here until my late twenties/early thirties. So I SHOULD know how many districts Suriname has, right? But I do not. Yes, I learned it all in school, but I forgot it all after the exams. I only tend to remember what I think is important. You might wonder how I do not think knowing how many districts Suriname has important? Well, it is because – as I said earlier – I just do not care about this. I went to Albina in October 2019 with a French Geologist. To be honest, I do not know if that is what he does. His work does come close to Cultural Anthropology… But it is not. Yeah, it is not THE best explanation, but it is a Crazy Humorous kind one. *wink wink*
I shot the feature image three to four weeks ago. We went to Albina again for the Malaria Program. It is a big difference between the way it was in October. Just look at the pictures below. Is it not a HUGE difference? They cleared out all of the rubbish! Captain Planet answered my plea!
In October, I hated walking down this path. I was pretty sure I would catch the Bubonic Plague. And while I am writing this, I just heard that there are five Coronavirus cases in St. Laurent du Maroni. Lord Jesus help us all!
So, he and I went there and had dinner with a friend of mine. She is a lovely young woman working for the Malaria Program Suriname. We met five or six years ago when I went to Antonio do Brinco for the first time. That also was my first time in one of those Cessna Twin Engine planes.
Albina has a pretty bad reputation. I guess it all started when it was destroyed during our country’s civil war.
I am not the best person to ask about history and stuff. But I will give it a shot. Albina was destroyed during the Moiwana 86 period. It was more of a guerilla war between our current President and some other idiot. My parents told me that Albina was a beautiful place before that. It had a cinema, theatre, you name it. I would love to see pictures of that time.
So, back to the topic at hand: Albina is one of the most chaotic districts of Suriname.
I have no idea why, but there is a part of the Malaria questionnaire which deals with violence. We were in Albina to talk to garimpeiros about the last time they had malaria, which medication they took, where they went for treatment.
Anyway, there is a part about violence in the gold mining fields or the places where they work.
I had to talk to the garotas de programa, that is a nice way for saying hooker in Portuguese. In the past, only Brazilian women worked in the brothels. Now? Exclusively Dominican and Cuban women. I wonder where all of the Brazilian garotas de programa have gone. Where are they? Some people say that they have moved to the gold mining fields in French Guiana. There is more gold there. If that is true, God only knows. I will research it and get back to you.
Some of the questions I had to ask them were, “Have you ever witnessed any violence in the gold mining fields?”, “Have you ever been sexually harassed?”, “Witnessed any rape?” Stuff like that.
Most of the places I went to the women told me that they themselves never were harassed, but they had heard horror stories from their friends. But when we went to Albina and I sat down with the Dominican garotas de programa, I heard some pretty horrible stories.
They told me that they do not have problems with the Brazilian clients, but more with the Maroon ones. The Maroons are the original inhabitants of Albina. In a previous post, I wrote about a big clash that happened between the Maroons and Brazilians in 2008. I remember it very well because I was working at the Embassy of the Federative Republic of Brazil at the time. They were so worried about their people!
Anyway, it is no secret that most people who go to Albina to work or what-have-you, do not like the Maroons who live there.
The women told me that the Maroon clients do not want to pay, they want the sex for free. In their minds, they are already prostitutes, they have sex with different men every day. So why should he pay her for something she does willingly? Yes, it is pretty fucked up, but that is the way the men think.
Most of the women told me that they have been raped by the Maroon men a number of times. The men take drugs before they go to the women, so some of them last longer than thirty minutes. Then they have to pay again, right? But they do not want to: They then force the women to continue. Some of the men even take back the money they paid for the first thirty minutes, beat the women, and leave with all of their money & valuables.
Why not call the cops, you say?
The women do not call because the cops are in on it, too. They have to pay the cops for protection. It is absolutely horrible. Most of the women their families do not know what type of work they are doing here, they think they are working in an office. If something were to happen to them here… they could just never be found. And what bothers me even more, is that the place their rooms are is FILTHY! It is run by a Chinese supermarket owner. The Chinese boss does not feel responsible for their safety. They are told that there are cameras 24/7. If that is not enough for them, they have to pay someone for protection.
I feel for those women. Most people do not bother to have a human-to-human conversation with them. They are judged because of what they (choose to) do for a living. But let me tell you, everyone has a story. And I also believe in treating someone with the same respect I would want someone to show me. Everyone has my respect until they do something to lose it. I do not judge people by what they do for a living, but by how they treat me. Another thing that is also important to me, is how they treat others.
I do not care who you are, where you are, what you did, as long as you love me! LOL! That is just me being silly. Have I told you that I really like my jokes & that I make myself laugh? LOL!
Anyway, I do not care who you are, whatever title you have or you think you have. If you treat me and others like filth, I will not respect you. Respect is earned.
I will send positive energy those women their way, meanwhile researching how I can help.