It's going to take a while for me to sort out my feelings about what we saw and who we met during our seven days in Haiti. We've been back a few days and I feel like I have this big tattoo on my heart that will never go away and I don't think I want it to.
While Gladys and I make new friends and re-visit old ones here at home like Mr. Merilax and Ms. Immodium, we've had a chance to sift through some of our feelings about our experiences in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
What stands out are our remembrances of the Haitian people. Check the picture here of the little girl who we met just outside our little bus that was across the street from the National Palace that was pancaked during the earthquake in January. She couldn't have been more than three or four-years-old and she had been abandoned by her family and then taken by another who doesn't have the resources to care for her.
Room is being sought for her in an orphanage. We didn't learn much more than that about her. But those types of stories seem to be repeated over and over. Here are other things we saw along with my impressions:
- The Haitian people we saw don't complain and they smile. This seemed to be a constant in what has to be one of the toughest places in the world to live. Where do they get their hope? It has to come from inside.
- A week ago Sunday on the way to church and riding through the center of the city, we saw hundred of men dressed in a clean shirt and tie carrying a Bible proudly on their way to church. We saw women and kids dressed up and headed in the same direction.
- One of our team members, Dr. John Partridge, a MSU faculty member, figured that we went about seven miles-per-hour in our bus rides which were made memorable by a variety of things. But, the air pollution stands out. It's thick. It's nasty and inside the city, it seems to be everywhere.
- At the orphanage that we worked to get ready for occupancy, we hired kids to help haul cement and we paid them well. They shoveled sand and pushed wheel barrows and they did it with an unabashed enthusiasm and persistence. It was something to see.
- One of our interpreters, Jamie, saw day-to-day living and the future as something to be embraced. He's 27 and lived through the earthquake with vivid memories. He wants to learn and to keep learning. Conventional wisdom says the odds are against him. But . . .regardless of what happens, this guy is a winner.
I will be writing more as thoughts settle in. I invite you to visit our trip blog, The Haitian Chronicles, where I've posted a lot of Flip video and still pictures and shared experiences and impressions.