Haiti, Miracles, and Tears for Those We Lost
First off, Port Au Prince has never been a glamourous place. It's dirty, it's smelly, it's dangerous... It came to be this way due to something the US did to them - namely, we levied an embargo that shut their export business down... Today, it's dirtier, smellier, and more dangerous due to the natural disaster that forces us to confront our relationship with the nation. Think about it. It's a four hour plane ride from New York City... From take off to landing, I can actually get to Port Au Prince before I could reach Pittsburgh by car. It's full of historical corruption that's left the booming population in poverty we can't comprehend.
I can't seem to do enough... And I can't stop being weepy about what I'm seeing on the news.
This week, I've been able to point people to Haiti - by sharing photos, stories of the people I knew (some of whom didn't make it), singing - and telling people where to donate (here - no admin! It's guaranteed that 100% of your donations will go directly to the Haitians...). So far, over 21K has been raised - and wouldn't it be great to send more?
I guess what I'd like to share with you guys today - is the part that I'm not seeing on the news - is the spirit of the Haitians. When your job at the baseball factory is lost because of international powers you can't control - when you can't depend on having any electricity during the day (on a normal day) - you can't rely on local government to keep you safe, transport you to medical care, or provide basic services like sewage control - when your diet consists of meat covered in flies and dirt - and your stomach can withstand just about anything (because far richer people contract dysentery far more easily than any Hatian I've met) - and you just have nothing... there remains a spirit.
The Haitians - at least those I met through my medical missions - have such faith, hope, and spirit of community, the really taught me something of joy. They spend a lot of time together. Fathers carried their little girls to clinics, church and school... towns self-police, looking after each other's welfare... They protect each other... They maintain their dignity each day. You'll never see a Haitian in church without their Sunday best - washed, bleached, and ironed... They sing with their souls on fire - with the hope they have in eternal life... They're amazing.
Anyway, let's take a look at a few photos - in hopes that you'll see what I've witnessed.
This is Celem on the left. I've never been happier to find out that anyone was still alive! His home is on the bank of a "Creek," an open sewer full of trash, poop, and feral animals... Several years ago, members of the mission team I worked with feared that a hurricane would come and wash his cement block home into the sewer... An engineer from Virginia figured out and constructed a retaining wall that anchored far enough into the ground to keep Celem and his family safe from the rains.
That engineer knew his stuff. The same retaining wall saved Celem and his family - who were unhurt by the earthquake. I'm confident that he will be able to assume the work of leading the church, school and community (their pastor, Bienne L'Amarique, was killed in the quake... More on that in a minute)
Here are some random kids looking over the wall that enclosed L'Eglese Siloe Baptiste - the church that hosted our medical clinics. Most of the walls remained in tact after the quake, and provide a safe haven, triage center, and meeting place for the Haitians who can't find their families, have lost their homes, and need care.
The following are photos from a mortgage burning party - which marked the members of Siloe Baptiste as the owners of property... a rare thing for the lower and middle classes of the island!
I'll post more later... Just thinking out loud - and praying for the people of Haiti.