Where Do We Begin?
So where do I begin to tell you about this recent trip or the state of the country as a four day observer.
It's been nine years since my last mission trip to Africa so I think I went into this knowing that consciously or not, I'd be contrasting and comparing Haiti to Africa. In Africa for the first time, I mostly compared it to living in the US, and that was the biggest cultural shock ever.
There were certainly a lot of commonalities between Haiti and Africa to be found; extreme poverty, lack of housing, food, nutritious food, education, and water to name a few.
The group I went with is called Service With Love. A total of just six people went on this trip. Several suitcases filled to the brim were brought to Haiti filled with food and wearables and even some toys for the children. Many efforts are being attended to at the same time, but lack of everything imaginable especially funding makes it difficult to move forward. We spent some of out time visiting with students. from a school that is being built in the immediate vacinity of where we were staying. One day we went to the market to purchase a couple of donkeys for a family to help out with chores such as hauling water up the mountains to be used in their home.
The things we take for granted like fresh water for drinking, cooking and washing is so difficult to come by and takes so much effort, time and energy. It's almost a full time job. Wells cannot be dug there because of the rocky mountainous terrain so residents of the villages have to walk down the mountain to a stream and back up again.
When you go to Haiti, you won't see many animals like squirrels, rabbits, deer raccoons or anything wild. And you won't hear many birds. They've been all used up for food. People can't plan for the future. They have to eat now and any food they cook has to be cooked with firewood. So many of the trees including fruit producing trees have been cut down to burn. The best way to describe the situation is desperate, and people live from day to day.
The last day of our visit we saw the most horrible of living conditions. Shacks as houses, with dirt floors, no place to go to the bathroom or wash up or brush their teeth. No electricity stoves, clothes washers no TV's, no phones (perhaps a blessing in disguise), and some no hope. Just one more day in hell on earth.
I had to bite my tongue a week after being back when our Wi-Fi went down for a few hours. What a person can do seems meaningless.. but it's really not. Kindness of any sort goes a long way to heal a family, a community, a notion and the world. Compassion brings hope and with hope real change is possible.