>I attended a breakfast at church for small group’s leaders and their members. I looked around the room for my members, and after seeing only one, I then began placing phone calls. I really had hoped my member from Haiti answered her phone so I could be assured that all was well with her and her family in Haiti. She did not answer. I decided to send her another email. I prayed during and after sending the email. Less than 30 minutes later, upon walking back inside the church’s chapel I saw her seated a few rows in front of me. I smiled brightly as I tried to gauge the look upon her face as she listened to our pastor speak. She seemed to appear peaceful and content, but I was not sure if it was simply her “mask” she was wearing. A few minutes later I made my way to the seat next to her and we reached out and gave each other a huge hug, then whispered for a few moments about how she was doing.
After the breakfast meeting we spoke for a couple of hours about her sister and other family members still in Haiti. Her sister lives on the outskirts of Haiti, outside of Port-au-Prince, right in the middle of the madness…but spared of mass destruction, unlike the city neighboring her, the epicenter of the earthquake… Léogâne City, that was almost totally decimated (roughly 80-90% of buildings).
In 1770 Léogâne City was wiped out due to an earthquake; so this is not the first time the city has experienced destruction and the hope for renewal. The difference between now and 1770 is that rebuilding it will take more time and resources than were necessary 240 years ago; but that does not mean it’s not possible!
My friend’s sister has four young children, and it took one week for her to finally make contact with family members. Her home is unsafe to live inside, so they simply wait for assistance from the various charities, organizations, and governments who they pray will arrive soon.
After discussing the devastation in Haiti my friend gave me an unbelievable history lesson about this country that has been plagued with corruption for many years. What information I had known was only surface level compared to the inner-workings she shared. The irony is that once the dictatorship that ruled the land for some time left, all chaos broke loose as class systems became more defined and anarchy became as common as seeing a liquor store or pawn shop on every “inner-city” corner here in the United States. Haiti is truly an example of a have-versus-have-not society. The dictatorship actually maintained order…but circa 1986, using the word “order” to describe Haiti became an oxymoron.
As I listened to the stories, not just rumors, but what she knew to be true, I cried. Her pain was apparent; her sense of helplessness showed across her face and in her voice. She is joyful that her family is alive, while fearful for her sister’s wellbeing (and that of her nieces and nephews). For quite some time it has been a crabs-in-a-barrel mindset, coupled with a drastic decline in resources, and uncertainty of who will receive assistance- she hopes her sister and other family members do not get lost in the shuffle. At this very point my dear friend only wants the opportunity to help…help rebuild her home that she remembers many years ago as a beautiful location, and prime tourist attraction.
Although the coastline is still beautiful she explained to me why Haiti is not the tourist spot like its neighbor, the Dominican Republic. She told me how the cruise lines pulled out quickly and opted to visit the neighboring countries and islands because the poverty and temperament of Haiti was far too depressed to be an attractive commodity. She explained that there has not been sufficient money earmarked to build adequate ports, secure infrastructures for buildings and houses, and that it is important that through Haiti’s renewal there is a focus on decentralization so that Port-au-Prince is not the only location for employment, health care, adequate living, etc.
My friend heard of an organization that was taking those individuals interested in helping, there to begin the sorting and rebuilding stages. When she called they already had more than enough volunteers. She wants desperately to go there, to help in whatever way possible- because she knows that without immediate action of not just other nations but of Haitians themselves to rebuild their home, the urgency from others will slowly die off as the media pays less attention to her country…and do-gooders find another “cause” to support.
As the days, weeks, months, and years progress I will shed more light on Haiti’s history and where I believe it can be with the help of ethical organizations and governing bodies who seek earnest restoration of this country and its people. We will see who is serious about making the necessary positive changes in this land that fought for freedom, later to pay France to keep it, and now is fighting for a pulse!
Copyright © 2010 by Natasha L. Foreman. All rights reserved; excluding displayed images
(Haiti Map Image Source: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/maps/caribbean/haiti/map_of_haiti.jpg)
(First Haiti coastline Image Source: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2009/2398832210_23ca33e1cf.jpg)
(Haiti- Antrim Coastline Image Source: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2009/2398832210_23ca33e1cf.jpg)
(Haiti Shoreline Image Source: http://piphaiti.org/blogs/media/blogs/all/AAshoreC.jpg)
(Girl on rubble at Leogane City Image Source: http://images.mirror.co.uk/upl/m4/jan2010/8/0/leogane-haiti-pic-dm-ian-vogler-745564000.jpg)
(Léogâne City map Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%A9og%C3%A2ne)
(Haitian Palace Image Source: This image, which was originally posted to Flickr, was uploaded to Commons using Flickr upload bot on 18:17, 14 January 2010 (UTC) by Apalsola (talk). On that date it was licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.)