we are moving forward to help the children of Haiti. I’ve been in contact with people in FL who are moving aid to Haiti. There are so many needs it seems what we are attempting to do is so small compared to the need.
I remember one person spoke to Mother Teresa and lamented, “Isn’t what you are doing like a drop in the ocean.” She replied, “Yes, but it takes many drops to fill an ocean.”
Jesus said, “the poor you will always have with you; you can do for them whatever you will.” Bowen Paraphrase. In other words, do a lot, or do not so much, but you can do something.
So far we are doing something and are developing a plan. At the moment we need tents and a lot of them. The rainy season is on the way Haiti will become a dangerous mess. A tent will bring some relief and would be what many people would want.
So we are collecting tents, and filled rubbermaid containers to send.
Please take a minute and read Randy Bohlender’s report from his three day venture in to Haiti.
We spent long hours driving from one side of the city to the other and back. There were six people to fit in the four door pickup truck we had. I quickly volunteered to ride in the back with Sean Malone of Crisis Response International. I didn’t want to see Haiti from behind glass. I wanted it to smack me in the face.
We drove up and down hills, through crowded side streets and crowded main thoroughfares. We saw no areas untouched. The damage is worse in some places than others, of course, but just when you think you’re out of it, you find a wall down or a roof caved in. In one area, the street-side wall of a two story building had simply fallen off. You could peer into the building like some full scale doll house.
The people of Haiti are remarkably resilient. As much as possible, they are trying to go on with life. On the sidewalk in places, you can buy vegetables, a bottle of coke, or a cell phone charger. The irony is that unless you have a generator, that cell phone isn’t going to charge. I saw one gas station open – the rest were shut down or, in one case, converted to a firewood stand. It reminded me of a post-apocalyptic movie scene.
Five story buildings stand as eight foot tall piles of rubble. The damage seems so random – three buildings destroyed, one standing untouched. It gives new meaning to the idea that it rains on the just and the unjust.
Speaking of rain, the very thought of it is horrifying. One night, I sat in a meeting of 25 doctors and the Haitian Minister of Health who said that when the rainy season starts – probably in February – the water running through that rubble and over the corpses entombed within, will spill out into the streets and run towards the sea. There is no drainage system. All of Port au Prince will become a Petri dish of disease. In his words, “We will see many more die of disease than of the earthquake itself.
I lost track of the number of tent cities. Some of them hold hundreds, most hold thousands. They spring up everywhere that the rubble is not piled and there’s room to hang three corners of a bed sheet. Children wander – some lost, some orphaned, some simply out of sight of the extended family – and it’s hard to tell who is who.
The term ‘orphan’ is a relative term in Haiti – no pun intended. There is a culture of passing children from family member to family member, often losing track of them or hiring them out as domestic workers and not going back to get them. Many children – even in orphanages – have parents out there somewhere, although they have not truly parented the child. Now UNICEF hopes to reunite these families like some Caribbean version of The Waltons, as if all it takes to reunite families is a good earthquake.
There are two moments that are indelibly burned in my mind. The first was hearing the story of a father who had come to one of the medical teams. His midsection was horribly infected. For three days he returned, unwilling to talk about how he found himself to be in this state. Finally, slowly, he began to tell the story. A few words into it, his wife walked away, unable to bear hearing it again.
When the quake struck, he was in a building with his two small children. Instinctively, he covered them from the falling debris. When the building itself fell, he was on top of his kids. He prayed with them and comforted them – until the building shifted again and pressed his body down hard on them and they died. For three days, he lay there on the cadavers of his children. Through tears, he explained that prolonged contact with the dead flesh had put him in this state. A member of the medical team cried along with him, saying “God knows what it’s like to see His Son crushed…”.
The second moment was more than a story – it was an experience. We pulled into the compound of a rural mission to find 40 to 50 children – many of them orphans – gathered under a canopy tent, singing and praying. These children are beautiful beyond imagination. They are regal, full of dignity and poised for greatness. Their poverty is a momentary, light affliction, because these children have a destiny. The mission director reminded us that 49% of Haiti is 14 years old or younger – and that any sort of prayer movement in Haiti would by design be populated by children like these. I saw the future of Haiti in those kids and for the first time, saw hope.
What’s next? I’m not sure. Haiti is complex. Getting children out of Haiti right now is essentially impossible – even families nearing completion of the adoption process are finding themselves stuck at the embassy. Our best chance to reach the orphans of Haiti will be to do so within the confines of Haiti…and that is what we intend to do. There are 200+ registered orphanages in the capital city alone and tons of food and supplies pouring in to the city. We hope to serve as a connecting point for those two things, as from what I saw on the ground, inter-Haitian agency communication is much poorer than outbound and inbound communication. As crazy as it seems, connecting the goods with the children might be easier to do from thousands of miles away.
My trip was short by design. I had no delusions of grandeur leading me to believe I could fix Haiti in 3 days. I wanted to see it all with my own eyes so that if I grew tired in the battle to help Haiti, I’d have my own conscience to wrestle with. Now you have my conscience to wrestle with too.