On January 12, 2010, 45 seconds destroyed physical parts of Haiti. Over 250,000 died and countless others injured. I have traveled to the country many times and made stronger after each visit. On the 8th anniversary of this disasters, I am revisiting two blogs written soon after my early trips. The emotions were raw and I still have a deep love for a people who can survive under the worst conditions.
Blessed are the flexible, for they shall bend, and not break.
With all the stories in the news about the Haitian earthquake, I expected to see the crumbled buildings, poor roads, and devastation when I visited. What I did not expect was what I saw and learned form the Haitians. They have lived lives of oppression for decades. Haiti is the poorest most abused country in our hemisphere. What I expected to see were people who had little and cared about nothing. The biggest surprise in my trip was “the people”.
One orphanage I visited belongs to a caring American — Nancy Turner. Her website is www.loveandgraceboyshome.com. I am borrowing some information form the site about people in Haiti:
– Children represent 70% of the 9 million people in this country.
– Less than 20% of Haitians age 15 and over can read
– The children endure illiteracy, slavery, and the highest mortality rate in the western hemisphere.
– 10% of the child population will die before age 4.
– More than half of Haitians earn less than $1 per day. The average yearly income is $550.
– There is one doctor for every 10,000 people in Haiti.
Haitians are very handsome people. Women and men are attractive physically. Without exception, the children are neat and have engaging smiles. As our cattle truck, carrying 21 white Americans rolled down the streets, almost everyone smiled and waved. A few people even said “thank you”. Why thank us? They are the survivors! They are the inspirations to each of us who spent little time in their world. On Sunday, hundreds of people came to the outdoor services. Women came in white dresses, children were well dressed and groomed, and men wore suits. It was 90 degrees and they came in their best and sang praises to the Lord. They were counting their many blessings. And, each person came forward to put something into the collection basket. Wow!
The people who seem to be doing the most for the people were the pastors of churches and the directors of orphanages. Many children have lost one or both parents. The orphanages have grown in number, size, and importance.
In the States we complain if the pot hole isn’t repaired on our street, if we have to wait too long at a traffic light, if the snow isn’t removed quickly enough. In Haiti they thank God for their lives and they are above all else, hopeful. I spoke with a young teacher who lost his school to the earthquake. He is getting a degree at the University and wants to open a new school later this year. He points out that education is the only thing that will transform this nation into something better.
As I reflect on my days in Haiti, I am most grateful for the ability to meet children and adults who care about themselves. While they are tossed obstacles, they bend but are determined not to break. If we can put an infrastructure into place and educate the population, better times will most assuredly come.