Candy paint ain’t just for cars

My little brother, Joel, a third-year dental student at the University of Washington, recently returned from a trip to Port au Prince, Haiti, where he donated his time (mostly pulling teeth and filling cavities) to people who don’t have access to dental care.

On Thursday night, Joel came over to show us pictures of his trip. Because he was visiting me, these included lots of pictures of Haitian buses. They’re called “tap-taps” (pronounced “top-tops”) by the people there, and they are amazingly beautiful. Check it:

A tap-tap in Port au Prince
A tap-tap in Port au Prince

Here’s what I was able to find out about tap-taps online:

Camionettes” (which literally means small trucks) also known as “Tap-Taps”, play an important role in Haitian public transportation.

… the body is made of wood or metal. The body is usually the work of several professionals: carpenter, blacksmith, electrician, painter…

It is the artist who gives to the ‘camionette’ all of its beauty. The artists paint all types of images using a mixture of colors. This is what allows us to say that “Tap-Taps” are not just a means of transportation, but also symbolize the Haitian appreciation of cultural and artistic values.

[...]

On the fronts and backs of the ‘Tap Taps”, there is always a space for written messages. There, you will usually find words of thanks (‘Thank you God’, ‘Thank you Virgin Mary’, etc), or other religious phrases (‘Blessed be the Lord’, ‘Long Live Jesus’, ‘Holy Altagrace’, ‘Papa Legba‘…), or words of love, etc

.
(Source: HaitiXchange)

A Benz-themed tap-tap
A Benz-themed tap tap
Tupac on a tap-tap
Tupac lives!
Don't giv-up (Photo credit: Mark Schutte)
“Don’t giv-up”

I found this last message especially moving , particularly given the historical (and very recent) injustices perpetrated on Haitians.

I’ve always admired my brother for his choice to go into dentistry. He’s developing skills that he can use to make a living and to give back to the world. (Would that I had such skills!) I’ve never been prouder of him.

Joel and some new friends (Photo credit: Mark Schutte)
The future Dr. Saulter with some of his patients
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2 Responses to Candy paint ain’t just for cars

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