10 days in Haiti

In December of 2007, I spent 10 days in Haiti. Most of my time was spent up in the Central Plateau in a town called Thomonde, near Hinche. I spent a day or two on either end in Port-Au-Prince. I was working on a solar power project with the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, which had paired each church in Diocese with a church in Haiti. Watching the images pour in today from Haiti, my mind keeps returning to the intense ten days I spent there.

It’s less than a two hour flight from Miami to Port-Au-Prince. How could one of the world’s poorest countries be in the same time zone as Washington DC? I grew up around the world, in Africa and Asia, and I have seen exceptional poverty. But the gritty, intense poverty of Haiti was brutal and beyond my previous experience. The country had a hopeless, desperate feel to it — even as the people of Haiti opened their hearts and homes to me. The generosity and spirit of the Haitian people was an inspiration and remains to this day a reminder of grace.

Even the landscape was desolate. It seemed as if every single tree had been cut down — not so far from the truth, it turns out — and when we attempted to visit the beach, we discovered that the deforestation had led to severe erosion that had destroyed the coral reefs.

But the most striking thing was what appeared to be an almost total absence of government. Once we left Port-Au-Prince, it was hard to discern any institutions at all — other than the Catholic Church. Roads, banks, hospitals, courts – really any kind of systemic institutions seemed absent.

Today, watching and listening to the news of the earthquake, I feel my heart breaking for Haiti. How much more heartache does Haiti deserve? Please do what you can, and keep Haiti close to your heart.

Cross-posted to EchoDitto.com

One Response to “10 days in Haiti”

  1. mgh99 Says:

    “The generosity and spirit of the Haitian people was an inspiration and remains to this day a reminder of grace.” Amen to that. I, too, have definitely been thinking about that time there. There is an amazing faith there that I don’t think anyone can fully comprehend.

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