May 28, 2010
Bonjour from Haiti!
We arrived safely, to an airport that has recovered in spirit and has become quite functional. A Haitian rendition of a calypso band was a welcoming first sight and sound, after walking down a long, newly built reception hallway, built pre-earthquake to keep travelers off the tarmac. In January, prior to the earthquake, this addition to the airport was all of our first comment, recognizing the growth and forward movement of Haiti, yet missing the celebrity feeling of exiting directly onto the tarmac...but Brian and I knew that now on the other side of that wall was a cracked and damaged building, still not useable, previously filled with water from broken pipes, rubble from broken walls and the chaos of a broken country. To everyone else it was just a walkway to the bus, which then took us to a "remodeled" hanger, being used as the country's customs center. The friendly and happy music and vision of the Haitian musicians was an effective anxiolytic coaxing us into a relaxed frame of mind that Haiti is as resilienient as we are all trying to believe. In the customs hanger the old wood cabinet/desks were salvaged from the damages of falling walls and exploding pipes, set in the middle of a 3 story high echo chamber of a hanger, being reused, providing us with a familiar feel as we stepped forward with our passports to be stamped. Once again, we eagerly claimed on our entrance forms that our reason for entering their country was "Pleasure", and that we had no pharmaceuticals. A blunt blur of truth. All but one bag found their way to the repaired turnstile, the only missing suitcase was filled with diaper packs and peanut butter...nice but not essential. I’m hopeful that whoever establishes custody of that bag will disperse the goods for good use.
The truck ride out of the airport and through Port-Au-Prince was a dusty kaleidoscope of visions and emotions, darting from one sight to another. The familiar movement of Haitians busying themselves up and down each street was reassuring. However, the disconnect of the vision came watching them side step and seemingly ignore the massive mounds of rubble in their paths, in their houses, in their lives. Street vendors were everywhere as usual, setting their goods to the side of a mound of crumbled concrete, or arranging the rubble to suit the presentation of what they are selling or where they wanted to sit. Behind the vendors and the distorted walls of previous dwellings and stores were tents, sheets, tarps, kids, people, dogs, rubble, all blending together in a dusty, diesel filled blur. Being in the open bed trucks with 40 suitcases and 20 white people, we are a sight. Everyone on the street looks intently at us, with seeking a gaze. The traffic was slow so it was easy to make eye contact with the stares. Each Haitian, young and old smiled at my searching looks. I was momentarily reassured but permanently humbled. If I allow myself to recognize the reality of what resiliency means to a Haitian...
Our first day of clinic we were greeted with 250 people waiting patiently for us and our offerings. We were careful to not be overwhelmed by the numbers in line, taking time to listen, touch and connect with each person. The amazing consistency of maladies, concerns, way of life, from pre to post earthquake almost has me lulled into thinking that all effects of Jan 12th are forgotten.
June 2, 2010Hi from Haiti -
It's 5 am Weds morning, I LOVE waking to roosters and dogs, to sunrise and green mountains!!! With sky breaking into peeks of blue, and puffs of cotton clouds rolling down off the tops and dips of the hills, there is no rain, and there is no line at the clinic, we are happy!!! I have a peaceful heart from these visions. We've had an incredibly full week, with a team that has been able to anticipate the needs of the Haitians and has been intuitive of each other’s needs as well, both physically and emotionally. As is typical of our trips, we seemed to have everything we needed. The missioners have a skill set that has been unbelievably diversified, compassionately and carefully treating patients with infections, infestations, injuries, worms, high blood pressure, and trying to provide some comfort for the headaches of anemia and arthritis of such a hard life, that is literally always up hill. It's been so amazing to see people again and again over the years, to have a familiar Haitian hug, to see health improving in this small oasis at Mountain Top. We've had just enough health packs, just enough medications, just enough blankets, crocs, peanut butter, laughter, energy...It is more and more evident with each passing trip that we are bringing all of you with us, as you support us, help us pack and pray for our work. The only thing we seemed to be missing is more time to spend here!
We have not been able to get through a day here without a little miracle, reasons for joy but also the unstoppable tears of sadness. A 12-year-old boy blinded by cataracts likely from measles, a man without a hand and without a daughter he lost in the earthquake, a 7 lb 7 month old... I will never, ever have a completely settled mind as long as it is filled with the remembrance of sick children and the blank stares of a child with malnutrition. I will, however, discipline myself to remember that God is in control, and that He reminds us of His love and hope, and that we can be His hands and feet to do something about the happenings of this world.
I want to share a quote with you from Jimmy Valvano, who was the basketball coach for N. Carolina State. He gave a speech at the ESPT awards 1 month before he died of cancer at age 47. His words are moving..."We should do this every day. Number one is laugh, you should laugh every day. Number 2 is think, you should spend some time in thought. Number 3 is you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that 7 days a week, you're going to have something special".
Our trip has been special - thank you for being a part of it!
With much love – sue and Brian and the rest of the Little by Little Team