Today we slowed down just a little bit to reflect on what’s been happening and what our next steps are going to be. Many of us struggle with always having ‘to do’, as there are so many needs to be met, but we realize the need to be in relationship, whether that’s with God or a community. There is also that overwhelming feeling of ‘how can I possibly help in such an enormous situation’.
I actually think we have done a great job of mixing up our time here. Some days are spent building tents, giving medical care, feeding, but then there are times that are spent listening, sharing stories, asking about the dreams and aspirations of the Haitian people, praying, dancing, and singing, which have all been so meaningful. Doing just one or the other just wouldn’t be enough.
On Monday we went to the area in front of The Presidential Palace where thousands of victims of the earthquake have set up tents. We decided to go deeper into the maze, and entered into a multi-family home. It was an extremely hot day and the sun was out full force. I thought, ‘oh, this is only going to get worse” as I entered the confined area. We were quickly given any seat available, whether that was a chair, a bucket or a cement block.
Steve, our friend and translator, started to introduce us and why we are here. We asked questions about their lives, what happened to their families during the earthquake, and also what their dreams are in life. As I sat inside this home constructed of tarps strung together and held up by sticks and pipes, I felt very privileged to be there. I wasn’t standing behind a table dishing out food, building a tent, or sitting at a desk discussing ‘what to do’, but I had been welcomed into a home of someone who had just experienced tremendous trauma in their life , who shouldn’t really have an ounce of hope left in their body, and I was able to just listen to their heart.
I wasn’t able to keep it together a couple of times as I shared my heart with them; the strength I saw in them, that I don’t think exists in me; the desire I have for them to achieve their hopes and dreams maybe more than they do; the passion to see this country become what it has the potential to be.
I hope they have understood my tears and that they have had at least a fraction of the blessing that I have experienced by being here.
March 14, 2010: My happy face for the day!
Steve Jean, 23 years old, from Montrious (1.5 hour North of PaP)
He plays a mean congo! Steve was studying at a ‘professional school’ to be a Sound Engineer before the earthquake hit. He only completed one month of his six month studies. The school was destroyed, so no more school as of now. In the mean time, he is staffing with YWAM in PaP and using has talents to bring joy to the hurting people of the city, and to me!
Steve’s vision is to have a recording studio here in Haiti, to be that outlet for so many talented Haitian musicians. Anyone in the music industry want to come help Steve walk out his vision?
Thank you Miriam & staff of the New Life Children’s Home!
Here are a couple of articles regarding volunteer opportunities in Haiti. You may also let me know if you are interested and we can discuss the many organizations I’ve connected with.
Today was a day off, much needed for the leadership that has been going since the earthquake. An amazing woman, Lin Joseph, invited the team to come out to her ocean side retreat for the day.
(For those of you who may not feel like you want to come serve in Haiti, I’ll reel you in with its beauty!)
Lin is Haitian, leaving the country when she was about 20 years old. She resides with her husband in West Palm Beach, but has returned to Haiti to help the people of her nation. About 5 years ago, she returned for a much needed rest herself. Instead of resting, she found herself reaching out to the very needy community around here, feeding the children and helping in whatever ways she could. The property she had acquired was meant to be a family retreat, but family never came, so she converted it to a resort. About seven months after its completion and occasional clientele, the earthquake hit. Lin felt so blessed that she and the resort survived the disaster that she had to use what she had to help those in devastation. Her vision is to build a clinic on the property. She became so angry that the people in the village were dying due to the lack of medical care. The closest care is about an hour and a half by foot.
Lin met one of our team members and was sharing her vision for the clinic. “Why wait to build a clinic, we’ll just bring one to you.” So that’s what happened. Last week, a team of about 12 nurses and a doctor from Minnesota, plus our Brasilian and Haitian team, packed up medical supplies, soccer balls, guitars, food and clothing to serve this village about an hour outside of Port-au-Prince. Lin said she had not seen smiles on these peoples faces in a very long time. It was a great day!
March 12, 2010
Fifteen days in Haiti with 12 more to go, and I can’t even think about leaving right now. I originally had planned to leave on March 8 with the rest of the team, but thankfully I was able to extend my stay without any problems. I feel like I’ve only begun to tap into life here, and I’m growing fonder and fonder of the people of this nation, as well as those from other nations that have come to help.
Where to begin is my problem, so I’ll just start.
I arrived in Port-au-Prince (PaP), meeting up with our team, four from Hawaii, plus two from California. We started our time in Saint Marc, about 2 hours North of PaP. We stayed at the Saint Marc YWAM base(Youth With a Mission), lead by Terry Snow, a native Texan that has committed the last 23 years of his life to this country.
With a nine page document in hand with questions about life in Haiti from the committee in Kona, Hawaii, we started our research, documenting every little detail with pen/paper, photographs and video.
Breaking off into twos, we went to work each day as if we were journalists with breaking news to report back each day, sending documents and thumbnails of images shot each day.
A forum of 45 people is meeting this week in Kona, in a ‘think tank’ setting, using the material that we have provided to develop a long term strategy to rebuild Haiti, and to streamline all mission efforts toward the nation.
Reported numbers of 25,000 refugees have come to Saint Marc from PaP due to having nothing but rubble for a home in the city, most returning to their hometown or where they can be taken in by relatives. The Saint Marc base has set up a system for refugee registration in a protected area of the property. The residence can bring their papers, proving they are residence of PaP, and they will be entered into a database and given a card which will allow them to receive food, water, and clothing during scheduled distributions. This card will also help to contact families when transitional housing becomes available, keeping track of the family size, single mothers etc. At the end of the week, the base had registered almost 10,000 people.
Tomorrow, February 25, I will be joining a team of photographers in Haiti to help launch a project that will assist in the rehabilitation of the country through community development and reconstruction projects.
These photographers are from PhotogenX, the ministry I traveled around the world with in 2007-2008. I officially completed my two year commitment with them in April of 2009, but I am extremely thrilled to be asked to be a part of this project!
We will travel throughout Haiti to gather research and perform a country wide photographic survey to begin the development of a long-term strategy for the actual rebuilding of villages and small towns. We are partnering with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Haiti (who have been working in the nation for over 20 years) to develop the concept and a presentation that will be given to YWAM international leaders as well as International Diplomats, Business Executives and Media contacts so a bridge of HOPE can be built within a sustainable long-term response.
Our overall vision is to see multiple small communities established in Haiti to be communities of light to help in the rehabilitation and restoration of Haiti. The idea is that we would start with one community and use that as a pilot project to see this replicated throughout Haiti. Obviously for this to happen, the project needs to be sustainable and organic from a Haitian point of view. We want to learn how we can help the people of Haiti through developing sustainable communities that will serve them in the long term.
Since PhotogenX is passionate about fighting injustice, a secondary objective will be to identify justice issues, such as human trafficking, rape, and orphans so that we can target and see how we can engage in a constructive manner.
I hope to be adding to my blog as I go! I apologize for the very brief and last minute update.
Facebook and Twitter will be my primary means of communication during the two weeks (I think!)
Your prayers for guidance, protection, stories and the strategy forward, would be greatly appreciated!