The last day in Haiti.
We packed and relaxed Tuesday. Left the hotel at noon for the trip to Port au Prince. The trip is taxing. 4.5 hours of winding, dusty and pot holed roads in the back of a land cruiser.
The sights and smells are almost indescribable. The beauty of the country, often one can see the sea out one window , mountains in the other. The houses and shops in the frequent small villages sit quite close to the road, giving one a quick glimpse into lives of ordinary Hatians. People are doing laundry in almost dry river beds and drying clothes on nearby rocks or cacti; playing with dolls or sticks on the front porch; sweeping rocky paths with traditional banana leaf brooms; repairing mopeds and bicycles which are the only source of transportation for most; cooking rice; soaking drying shelling or grinding various kinds of beans or grains; tending goats and chickens, or just sitting on the porch (clothing optional). For many in Haiti survival is a full time job. One of the missionaries I met named Andy, said the first 6 months they were in the country, day to day tasks seemed to take about all their time.
Coming into PauP is an experience. Many, many. Homeless people; a very high unemployment rate;
An extremely dense population; and shocking lack of municipal services combine for a sensory experience that is unforgettable. The week gave us time to adjust to some of the cultural uniquenesses, like street venders, loud emotional speech patterns, swarms of mopeds, and a quite assertive driving style that is based on "the biggest and bravest has the right of way."
Even setting all that aside, the poverty and what I can only describe as dehumanization (referring to the filth, the tent cities, rooting through garbage and the stench of burning and rotting garbage) is unforgettable. How can we ("we' being humanity) ever be forgiven for creating a situation in which this is the only life available to millions of Hatians? (I suspect that this is not unique to Haiti, but is repeated in India, Africa, Asia and south America. (I don't know of anywhere in North America or Europe That rivals PauP in this way. Certainly to our credit it would never be tolerated in the US.)
As we are in the air over the Gulf of Mexico between ft. Lauderdale and Dallas, I write this last reflection. Wondering where this trip will lead us. I don't mean whether we will get to CR tonight or not, though that is a real question at this Moment.
The question I am asking is will our lives ever be the same (I hope not) and how will they be different.
Today, as I reflect I keep going back to a conversation I had with Avald last night. Perhaps one of the most important conversation of the trip. Without divulging personal information let me start by saying that Avald grew up in a pretty" normal " Hatian family. 2 sisters And his parents. He talked about having very little food, the difficulties of getting an education, his wish to get married to his fiance and start a family, and most importantly the desire to make a different life for his children. He has pursued a US education. (He says many of his cohorts don't because they say "I'll still be unemployed when I get home." ) He continues to improve himself with education. (he has a US economics degree and is pursuing engineering now ) He wishes to own some land so he is not locked into living with his mother for the rest of his life. (unlike the US, rental is for the wealthy in Haiti) He talks about how grateful he is to have this job with the Consolation center (which pays well compared to many of his peers) and how he tries to put a little money in his bank account every month.
This is a young man who has a real dream and a real chance of seeing it become a reality. (if he survives his own driving... You'll have to ask us about that)
Isn't that the answer for Haiti? Avald reaching his dream doesn't fix Haiti, but it would change the course of history for his family.
Perhaps it is people like Avald and Wadsene, and the residents of the village of Hope, and Eddie, and the girls at the consolation
Center reaching for their dreams that will begin to lift Haiti out of the desperation that has grown out of its history, politics and geography. If we can give young men like Avald a leg up with employment; families like Saint Louie's an opportunity to start over after the earthquake by giving them housing in the village; and girls like Samula an education, a faith foundation and some job skills so that she may not fall prey to the pitfalls so many young women in Haiti do... Perhaps... Just perhaps, one person at a time, one family at a time, one child at a time we can begin to change the course of history for the whole Hatian nation. Just perhaps... One person helping one other person... One family encouraging one other family... One church lifting up the people of another church.... Just perhaps.
Will life be different? How could it not be... how? I'm am not quite sure. But I know it will have to do with projects like the Consolation center and village of Hope. I know it will have to do with people like Avald, St Louie, and Samula. I know it will be in partnership with people like Ken De young. And les deroo. Governments are not the answer. Cookie cutter aid is not the answer. Stereotypes and Pity are not the answer. People are the answer. People who love Jesus and are willing to take a risk to help, to visit, and to give so that the dreams of people like Avald, St. Louie, Samula, Ken, les, and our team can be realized. That in Haiti and in all places like it, "justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream." and God's Kingdom will be a reality in my life your life and in the lives of all people everywhere.
Keep praying. Thank you for coming on this journey with us, and God bless you.
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